Matthew Burtner: Coral Attraction

Program Note

Matthew Burtner (b.1971)
Coral Attraction (2010)

Matthew Burtner is an Alaskan-born composer and sound artist specializing in concert chamber music and interactive new media. His work explores ecoacoustics, embodiment, and extended polymetric and noise-based systems. Burtner won the Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition, IDEA Award, and the Howard Brown Foundation Fellowship. He is Professor of Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia.

Burtner has been commissioned by ensembles including Integrales, NOISE, Trio Ascolto, MiN, Musikene, Spiza, and CrossSound, and has worked closely with soloists Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Dimitris Marinos, Morris Palter, Haleh Abghari, Lukas Ligeti, Glen Whitehead, Madeleine Shapiro, and Wu Wei. Burtner has also conducted long-term residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Phonos Foundation at the Pompeu Fabra Universidad, Musikene, Cite des Arts, IRCAM/Centre Pompidou, and the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He studied composition, computer music, saxophone and philosophy at St. John’s College, Tulane University (BFA), Iannis Xenakis’s UPIC-Studios, the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University (MM), and Stanford University and the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (DMA).

As a technologist, Burtner develops systems for human-computer-environment interaction featured in his music. He invented the NOMADS telematic system, the MICE human-computer ensemble and orchestra, the Metasaxophone augmented instrument, and a number of ecoacoustic approaches.

Coral Attraction celebrates the fact that acoustic vibrations draw living things together. Humans are drawn together through our music. And even animals such as coral, which lack ears or any apparent audition apparatus, find one another using sound. This attraction by coral larvae to the reef is mysterious and previously no one imagined that such animals could detect directional acoustic cues and respond to them. It turns out that the largest biological structures on Earth result from this attractive sonic relationship.”

—Matthew Burtner