Matt Van  Brink, composer, pianist, accordionist

December 25, 2014

Scrap Happy

Each Scrap Happy is a collection of 100 old gems, new favorites, oddball ephemera, and the occasional earworm. Collected every December from my ears to yours.

Scrap Happy 2015 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2014 No Scrap Happy
Scrap Happy 2013 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2012 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2011 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2010 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2009 ==> LINK
Scrap Happy 2008 ==> LINK


"Teaching Improvisation"
Improv Insights, December 2014
A field report from Concordia Conservatory's Summer Composition & Songwriting Intensive

"Writing Over"
NewMusicBox, May 2012
Reporting on The Intimacy Of Creativity workshops

"Striking a Balance"
"Writing to Stereotype"
"That Eight-Minute Threshold"

NewMusicBox, May 2008
Three reports for NewMusicBox from VocalEssence's "Essentially Choral" workshops.

Relix, April/May 2006
In collaboration with Jesse Jarnow, a short analysis of "Inca Roads."

March 24, 2014

White, Those that Stayed Still [unlisted page]

SATB chorus | 3 mins.
setting of a text by Eduardo Galeano
First performed by La Cantoria de la Merced, 5 August 2011, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Eduardo Galeano has made an evocative encapsulation of a story from Kadiweu mythology about the origin of the colors of birds. This particular story is full of talking animals and the blood of a martyred child, yet I am drawn to the magical realism of myths like this one. From our vantage point in an age of science, I am in awe of the thousands of stories which sought to explain the mysteries of our world.

The music enhances the mystery, wandering without a true key center for the entire piece. It is a consonant world full of fourths and fifths, and the harmony often finds a pocket of tonality before skating off again, searching elsewhere. The piece finally comes to rest on E-flat, but even then there are extra notes, casting shadows. Nothing truly resolved, nothing truly explained.

Performance by the World Youth Choir, Grete Pedersen, conductor


Eran blancas las plumas de los párajos y blanca la piel de los animales.
Azules son, ahora, los que bañaron en un lago donde no desembocaba ningún río, ni ningún río nacía. Rojos, los que se sumergieron en el lago de la sangre derramada por un niño de la tribu kadiueu. Tienen el color de la tierra los que se revolcaron en el barro, y el de la ceniza los que buscaron calor en los fogones apagados. Verdes son los que frotaron sus cuerpos en el follaje y blancos los que se quedaron quietos.

White were once the feathers of birds, and white the skin of animals.
Blue now are those that bathed in a lake into which no river emptied and from which none was born. Red, those that dipped in the lake of blood shed by a child of the Kadiueu tribe. Earthen, those that rolled in the mud, and ashen those that sought warmth in extinguished campfires. Green, those that rubbed their bodies in the foliage. White, those that stayed still.

Words excerpted from MEMORY OF FIRE: GENESIS by Eduardo Galeano. Copyright © 1982 by Eduardo Galeano. Translation copyright © 1985 by Cedric Belfrage. Published by Nation Books, and in Spanish by Siglo XXI Editores, México. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, New York, NY and Lamy, NM. All rights reserved.

January 20, 2013

A new recording of "Zephyr"

Friend and collaborator Lara St. John gave me an outrageously thoughtful present during the holidays -- a new recording of my solo piece for her, ZEPHYR. Previously, the only recording was her premiere performance at the Woodstock, NY Maverick festival in their historic outdoor barn ... when she was accompanied by a serious summer squall. I love me some nature, but I'm happier now to have this studio recording!

Lara St. John, violin

January 18, 2013

Polkastra says "I Do."

Valentine's Day is the release date of Polkastra's newest oeuvre "I Do": The Wedding Album. The record includes my arrangements of Bridle Chorus (Wagner), Shotgun Wedding March (Mendelssohn) Flumpet Voluntary (Clarke) Canon in D, Mostly (Pachelbel), and in collaboration with Martin Kennedy, J.S. Bachelor Party (a medley and quodlibet of Wachet Auf & Jesu Joy). Get ready to propose ... or renew your vows!

January 1, 2013

Scrap Happy 2013: 101 mp3s!

101 favorites which passed through my ears and brain in 2012. Click, download, and import into your favorite music listening conveyance.
LINK (101 mp3s, 505MB).

Previously: Scrap Happy 2012, Scrap Happy 2011, Scrap Happy 2010, Scrap Happy 2009, Scrap Happy 2008

June 18, 2012

The Lower Leaves of Trees published

The Lower Leaves of Trees
for SATB choir a cappella
published by Hayo

Hayo | HY2078


May 25, 2012

Thirty years ago, in a bowtie

After the ceremony, I entered the banquet hall and took my place by the cake. The rest of the wedding party arrived to shivarees, but my attention was fixed on the plasticky vastness of the tiered confection on my left. Could it be real? Or was it yet another decoration, like the shoddy ersatz rings sewn to the pillow of which I was the bearer? How stupid I felt, holding the cushion aloft while the true rings had already found their fingers. Earlier, I had almost refused to participate in the ceremony, having discovered the true nature of this charade and the pointlessness of my role. No, this cake could not be real. Reaching out to test this hypothesis, I was shocked to find a large quantity of icing decorating my finger. And as I hid the evidence in my mouth, my family at table fifteen doubled over with delight at the silent-film comedy of a tuxedoed five-year old.

Later on, I kicked and screamed as someone shuttled me out of harm’s way of some breakdancing. All in all, a pretty good day.

May 24, 2012

Over Writing: Writing Over

My article for NewMusicBox summing up The Intimacy Of Creativity 2012. LINK

May 16, 2012

Be Music, Night Published

Be Music, Night
for SATB choir a cappella
commissioned by C4
published by Hayo

Hayo | HY2077G


May 13, 2012

Students of Concordia Conservatory performed Echo Song

Students of Concordia Conservatory's Chamber Music Program premiered ECHO SONG, commissioned for them for their performance on 12 May 2012 at Concordia College's Sommer Center. Having an inclusive chamber music program open to all instruments and abilities inevitably results a few unusual ensembles, and finding repertoire is a amusing challenge! Sometimes an arrangement of an existing piece does the trick, and in fact some short baroque pieces lend themselves quite cheerfully to flexible instrumentation. But by utilizing the composers at the Conservatory, we can combine students of roughly similar ability in sometimes oddball instrumentations. ECHO SONG, for example, is for three guitarists and piano four-hands!

live performance by students of Concordia Conservatory

May 7, 2012

Photos from Hong Kong & The Intimacy of Creativity 2012

I just spent two rewarding weeks on the campus of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, taking part in Bright Sheng's program there, called The Intimacy of Creativity. I will be writing a short piece about the experience for NewMusicBox, but in the meantime here is a hemorrhage of photos from the workshops and from touring around Hong Kong. LINK.

April 4, 2012

Interview with Victoria Bond

In which I cut an edge with C Major, discussing my piece ONLY THE PIANO WILL GIVE US OUR PEACE, which will be performed by the Great Noise Ensemble on Victoria Bond's Cutting Edge Concerts at Symphony Space on April 16.

April 2, 2012

San Francisco Choral Artists performed They Disappear

in three Bay Area concerts March 11-18.
SATB chorus, violin, cimbalom and contrabass | 4 mins
setting of "So" by Abraham Reisen, translated by Leonard Wolf

live performance by San Francisco Choral Artists, Magen Solomon director

March 8, 2012

Singing in Good Company

Here is a nice preview interview with director Magen Solomon for San Francisco Choral Artists' concerts on 11-18 March.