Alison Mathews

Composer and Piano Teacher

UK

Author

About

Alison is a composer living and working in Surrey, UK. A graduate of the Royal College of Music, holding both a Piano Diploma and Honours Degree, Alison went on to complete a Masters Degree at Surrey University, with the philosophy of music at the heart of her studies.

This led to a wider exploration of the links between art, myth and music with the offer of a scholarship to complete a Doctorate at Surrey University. Having a family intervened and a career in music education came to the forefront.

Initially, Alison’s career focused on music education, running a thriving private teaching practice along with workshops integrating art and music. The direction of her career changed as she began composing for her students, motivated by a desire to provide imaginative music that would give young pianists the opportunity to explore the full range and sonority of the piano.

Since then Alison’s publications have covered a range of educational and contemporary classical music for solo piano:

‘Landscapes’ Editions Musica Ferrum (EMF) ‘Treasure Trove’ EMF ‘Doodles’, EMF ‘Capturing the Spirit of Christmas’ in collaboration with Barbara Arens, EMF ‘Capturing the Joy of Winter’ in collaboration with Barbara Arens, EMF ‘Piano Paintings’ in collaboration with Barbara Arens, Arensakov Editions

Included in the following anthologies: ‘Mosaic’ Volume One, EMF ‘Mosaic’ Volume Two, EMF ‘Small Hand Piano Music’, Breitkopf & Härtel

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Music means freedom, release, self-expression. The chance to communicate in ways that words cannot articulate.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

It can be, but not especially. It can express truths that may be painful or joyful, personal or reflect events and feelings on a larger scale. Music can be a very powerful form of therapy.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

When I was younger I had all sorts of interests and ambitions which included pursuing art and history but I honestly don’t think I could have chosen a career path that didn’t involve music.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

I am not especially worried in that I see quite a lot of changes in attutides and developments in the way classical music is presented. Within the world where technology allows for ease of creating and accessing music I still firmly believe that live music is incredibley important to us all and will continue to be.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I feel the role of music will essentially remain unchanged – it will still be something that can be personal and reflect larger concerns and moods.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I think the musician needs to be more creative in engaging their audience and in embracing/ understanding the technology that is available. Collaboration is important in the creative process – certainly it is for me. However, being able to switch off and be quiet at times is equally important.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

There are so many ways! For the youngest children having live music within schools or concerts within the community which are accessible and edcuational. Having a positive experience at the youngest age is vital! For teens or young adults concerts in small venues – being up close and personal. Removing the barriers or formalities that can exist in concert halls. Interaction with the audience, engaging them through telling the story or narrative behind the music. Having pre-concert events that provide direct interaction or participation for the audience with musicians. Collaboration with artists in other spheres to engage all the senses.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

One of my favourite pieces is from the collection ‚Landscapes’. ‚Expression’ was initially inspired by a landscape I love and wanted to capture or evoke. It began with the setting of a scene, a mood using a particualr sonority, but quickly turned into the expression of something very personal and in many ways painful. This is the beauty of music, to be able to express things on different levels.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Be open-minded! Listen to as much music and as wide a variety as you can. All forms of music are so easily accessible. If you play an instrument, be brave and try a wide range of music and genres. From the earliest forms right up to current, living composers.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

This depends on what type of project I am working on. When working on educational music, my long experience of teaching and pupils needs are paramount. However, with other music there is much more a sense of freedom and self-expression.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Currently I am in the middle of writing educational material but am also starting something entirely new – a collaboration with a choreographer for a dance piece. I love to experiment!