Paula Matthusen is a composer who writes both electroacoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. In addition to writing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. She has written for diverse instrumentations, such as “run-on sentence of the pavement” for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker noted as being “entrancing”. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered.

Her music has been performed by Dither, Mantra Percussion, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, The Glass Farm Ensemble, the Estonian National Ballet, James Moore, Kathryn Woodard, Todd Reynolds, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Lancaster and Jody Redhage. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, the MATA Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, International Computer Music Conference and Dither’s Invisible Dog Extravaganza. She performs frequently with Object Collection, and through the theater company Kinderdeutsch Projekts.

Awards include the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards, First Prize in the Young Composers’ Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship, the “New Genre Prize” from the IAWM Search for New Music, and recently the 2014 Elliott Carter Rome Prize. Matthusen has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Matthusen completed her Ph.D. at New York University – GSAS. She was Director of Music Technology at Florida International University for four years, where she founded the FLEA Laptop Ensemble. Matthusen is currently Associate Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where she teaches experimental music, composition, and music technology.


“A pleasant surprise in the Sunday morning program [for the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music] was Paula Matthusen’s piece, ‘of memory and minutiae’ (2006), a plaintive, haunting setting of a Norwegian prayer that fragments further with each repetition.” —Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, 2009
“The whispering, scratching, plinking, and sighing of her run-on sentence of the pavement — for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics — has an oddly sad, entrancing effect, especially when the stream of noise coalesces into slivers of song.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2004

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Recent news

October 14, 2021
  • The collaborative project between myself, Firat Erdim, and Olivia Valentine continues as part of the ongoing exhibition LOOM • ROOM • HARP at Drake University. Several overlapping streams (online and in-person) of performance coincide with the performance.

    Performance dates include:

    Thursday, September 9: Performance 4:30pm-6:30pm CDT
    Thursday, September 16: Performance 12pm-2pm CDT with special guest Sam Wells!
    Thursday, September 23: Performance 4:30pm-6:30pm CDT
    Thursday, September 30: Performance 12:30pm-1:30pm CDT
    Thursday, October 14: Final Performance 4:30pm-6:30pm CDT

    The performances are accessible both in-person and online, via the exhibition website and Sunship, the website of the Arts Letters & Numbers 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale Italian Virtual Pavilion. 

September 25, 2021
  • Loadbang’s Plays Well With Others Album Release Party!
  • Loadbang celebrates the release of it’s album Plays Well With Others, featuring works by Taylor Brook, Reiko Füting, Heather Stebbins, Scott Wollschleger, Eve Beglarian, and myself! The event begins at 12pm EST on September 25th at Opera America (NYC). More info here.

September 22, 2021
  • New Music Miami
  • Lullaby for Dead Horse Bay will be performed as part of the New Music Miami ISCM Festival, featuring works by Orlando Jacinto Garcia, Javier Alvarez, Caroline Shaw, and Mario Lavista with performances by the Amernet String Quartet, Mari-Liis Pakk, Jaime Marquez, and Jesse Gilday. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22nd at the Wolfsonian–FIU. More info here.

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