Composer JAMES MATHESON has rapidly emerged as one of the most distinctive, vital, and creative musical voices of his generation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him in December, 2011, with the Charles Ives Living, an award of $100,000 a year for 2 years (2012-2014), allowing the composer to devote his time to composition, free of the necessity of other employment. A 2000 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship recipient, Matheson's music has been programmed by such organizations as the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago and Albany Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orchestra 2001, LA's Monday Evening Concerts Series, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and at the music festivals including Ravinia, Aspen, Spoleto, Santa Fe and many others.
In September of 2009, James became Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s innovative Composer Fellowship Program. Recent projects include True South, an orchestral work commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and Borromean Rings, a piano quintet commissioned by the Cheswatyr Foundation for the Borromeo String Quartet and pianist Judith Gordon. Upcoming projects include a Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (with soloists Baird Dodge, Martin Chalifour, in Chicago and Los Angeles respectively), and a new work for soprano and chamber ensemble for Sequitur.
In December 2007, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presented the West Coast Premiere of Matheson's Songs of Desire, Love and Loss, which was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiered in October, 2004 as part of Dawn Upshaw's Perspectives series. The Anatomy of Melancholy, commissioned by Antares, premiered at the Ravinia Festival in 2008. The 2006-07 season featured the NYC premiere of Colonnade on the 2007 MATA Festival, the World Premiere of Violin Sonata, commissioned by Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, West Coast performances of Falling, by Xtet on LA's Monday Evening Concerts series and by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and the Midwest Premiere of Buzz by the Orion Ensemble. April 2004 saw the premiere of Umbras and Illuminations by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the second commission awarded to Matheson by that ensemble (Colonnade premiered in 2002-03; a third commission, La Seine for English horn, premiered in March of 2007). Buzz, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano was extensively performed worldwide by Antares and Ensemble X, and Pull was recently released by The Ambassador Duo on the Equilibrium label. Orchestra 2001 premiered The Paces for piano and large ensemble at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in 2002-03. In previous seasons, Ensemble X featured three Matheson works in a Merkin Hall (NYC) performance, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra chamber series featured the world premiere of Falling and the local premiere of Spin, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago world premiered the CSO-commissioned orchestral work River, River, River, and the MATA Festival programmed Pound.
In addition to the Guggenheim, Matheson has received fellowships and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship in 2008 and the Hinrichsen Award in 2002), the Bogliasco and Sage Foundations, ASCAP, and the Robbins Prize. From 2005-2007, Matheson was Executive Director of the MATA Festival of New Music in New York, which commissions and performs the work of young composers who are making their entry into professional musical life. Matheson was a 2000 participant in American Composers Orchestra's Whitaker New Music Readings with Gliss, has held residencies at Yaddo and the Liguria Study Center, and has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.