Yeoman Interview – Matthew Blunt

Multiple award-winning musician Matthew Blunt is a former student of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Chetham’s School of Music and Royal Academy of Music. An accomplished and versatile musician, he has performed with Elton John, played at Jim Watson’s memorial concert and recorded the premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies Brass Quintet. Matthew regularly works with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia and Opera Holland Park and has performed under conductors including Sir Colin Davis and Semyon Bychkov.

What instrument do you play?
I play the tuba, cimbasso and piano.

Do you prefer solo or ensemble playing?
Ensemble playing; I have a very successful quintet called Total Brass which is brilliant as it gives me the soloistic experience of playing at the same time as being part of an ensemble. It’s incredibly tricky in parts, and very exposed.

Do you currently play in a brass band?
I grew up playing in brass bands, and still go into bands sometimes to help out at contests, but not regularly any more.

What musicians have most inspired you?
My teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, Patrick Harrild, has been the most inspiring person in my musical life. His approach to teaching and seeing playing the tuba as not just a tool in an orchestra but about being an all round musician made me the player I am today.

What do you like best about the tuba?
It surprises people how versatile it can be, but being the basis of what a good brass section sits on top of when in the orchestra is a great feeling. You feel like the bottom pedals of an organ, providing the beef that everyone else needs.

What was your first big break?
My first ever professional concert wasn’t on tuba, it was on cimbasso, funnily enough, which just goes to show that sometimes the secondary instruments are just as important as your main! I couldn’t really say that there was any singular moment that made my career, as it is such a fluctuating one, but becoming tuba player at the Gustav Mahler Jugenorchester (GMJO) helped a lot. It gave me the professional experience I lacked at the time in an environment where I could mess it up a few times first!

What is your greatest musical achievement?
Some of my favourite musical achievements are a few recordings I made. Maybe it’s because they’re still available to listen to, whereas concerts get forgotten! Of my favourites are a CD made by Chris Avison to raise funds for the Jim Watson Fund and my live recordings when on tour with the GMJO, which are great fun to listen back to, as they’re always massive works with monumental conductors. Some of the performances with that orchestra are also my highlights. Playing Bruckner 7 in the Musikverein in Vienna was an unbelievable opportunity to play the music in the hall it was intended for, with one of the best orchestras in the world.

What are your plans for the future?
My quintet, Total Brass, is pushing to get back into competitions so we will be preparing for that soon. That along with gaining as much experience in a wide variety of musical ventures is what I’m trying to do at the moment. I’m also working on branching out into conducting.

How can readers find out more about you?
You can find out more about the quintet at: www.totalbrass.co.uk, www.facebook.com/TotalBrass and https://soundcloud.com/total-brass.
I also have a profile on the Musicians Answering Service: maslink.co.uk