I have performed with the pop groups Migos at the YouTube Studios, Chance the Rapper on NBC's Saturday Night Live, SZA on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the Tonight Show with David Letterman and in at concert at The Pier One, Bollywood singer Arijit Singh, and NYC bands Tredici Bacci, ANONYM, Cuddle Magic, Ava Luna, and Lip Talk. I have played with the classical music ensembles Sinfoncia Nacional of the Domincan Republic, Bard's The Orchestra Now, the dLux Quartet, the Sirius Quartet, and the Publiq Quartet. I performed with Marc Ribot's Young Philadelphians's and it's all star downtown crew including Mary Halvorson, Bern Nix, Calvin C. Weston, Jamal Tacuma,
I have played with the improvisors Weasel Walter, John Zorn, Anthony Coleman, John Escreet, Nasheet Waits, Tatsuya Nakataki, Daniel Carter, Craig Harris, and many more. Notable festivals include The Newport Jazz Festival, The NYC Winter Jazzfest, and SxSW. I attended the New England Conservatory of Music and received a bachelors of music in classical viola performance. Primary teachers include Martha Strongin Katz, Junah Chung, Mai Motobuchi, and Jon Handman. I completed the teacher training course in the Alexander Technique from the ATTC Boston, led by Ruth Kilroy. I have completed 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training from Yogaworks. I am currently studying Aikido at Brooklyn Aikikai.
21st Century Improvised Music on the New York Scene
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December Artist Feature: Joanna Mattrey
This month’s feature focuses on the work of violist Joanna Mattrey, who is relatively new to New York. Mattrey has been involved in a number of interesting improvised and composed music projects focusing on music ranging from Karlheinz Stockhausen to Anthony Braxton.
Cisco Bradley: Who/what have been your big inspirations as an artist?
Joanna Mattrey: It’s a joy to live amongst such a daring, explorative community of musicians. There have been countless moments, as both an audience member and performer, where I’ve felt changes in the flow of time brought about by everyone really going in together, and wow! Life-giving purpose. The membrane between performer and audience softens and you feel that quiet sense of unity.
Especially with improvised music, the questions, the pauses, the danger. Those elements of instability that somehow deliver us into the spiritual. I love playing new and classical music as well, but for me with improvised music, it’s just so close to the surface.
CB: How did you come to be a musician?
JM: I started playing music because my third grade teacher brought her violin into class one day and played for us. She then called my mom and told her that moment was the only time she’d ever seen me sit still and listen. I suppose its still like that. Improvising feels like an antidote to a hectic, chaotic world. A zen practice in listening. What is going on that isn’t being heard? What hidden wisdom? Improvising can be a state of listening that blots out all the other static, giving space to surrender oneself. Tapping into the flow of momentum that is inside and outside, and mixes with everyone else in the room. Unity finally for a glimpse!
CB: How would you describe your aesthetics as an artist?
JM: Playing a string instrument is just the best! There are so many sonic possibilities. With the lightest touch of the bow, you can make these layers of overtones and distortion. Exploring preparations and other sound worlds can create portals into faraway times and places. There is this resistance between the bow and the string that pulls something out of you, just as you draw it out. It’s a dream. Ultimately, I am looking for those rare states of full self-investment. Being in surrender, being listening. It’s such a beautiful way to experience closeness.
CB: What projects have you been involved with since coming to NYC?
JM: In September, Jonah Rosenberg, Brooke Herr and I created a multimedia Stockhausen installation for MoMa/PS1’s ALLGOLD gallery. We created a living score environment of ‘Connections,’ one of Stockhausen’s Intuitive Music pieces. We had video, interviews, drones, and live sound installations filling the various rooms, and a library of zines and cassette tapes, of other artist’s interpretations of the ‘Connections’ score. It was such a great experience studying that score closely, and searching for ‘vibration in the rhythm of the universe.’
Sean Ali (bass), and Leila Bordreuil (cello), and I, worked intensely on the sound installation for the Connections exhibit, and have been rehearsing and performing a lot since. It’s so exciting to
stumble upon chemistry and a shared sense of curiosity. The natural acoustic blends of the instruments, the way the overtones line up and resonate each others instruments is always shocking and awesome. It’s inspiring to find musicians you can be in dialogue with about the
process of playing and to have collaborators who are as enthusiastic about rehearsals as they are about gigs.
I have several projects that have given me that kind of freedom of exploration, Three Minute Mullet, with Henry Fraser (bass), Joe Moffett (trumpet), and Connor Baker (drums), We’ve worked on the music of Anthony Braxton, Art Ensemble, and originals. Having incredible musicians to rehearse really challenging music with for months, and really being able to study in depth has been very fulfilling. In another group, Ancient Enemies, with Carlo Costa, (drums) and Nathaniel Morgan (sax) we have been practicing rehearsing, and some of the exercises we’ve stumbled upon have blown my mind and pushed me so much as a player.
–Cisco Bradley, December 11, 2015
Here's the Migos Performing "Hannah Montana" with a Symphony
By Slava Pastuk
Quavo and Takeoff are two very busy Migos as they prepare for the July 31st release of their debut album Young Rich Nation, but they took some time out of their schedules to appear alongside a nine piece symphony to perform "Hannah Montana" over top of a classical arrangement, composed by New York's own John Cleary.
Watch as the two musicians rap in their signature triplet bursts over top of bells, whistles, strings, and drums. Everyone comes off looking like a classic man, but the real star of this video is Joanna Mattrey, on viola. Not only did she give a spirited performance, but she's the one that responded with a resounding "oh yeah!" when asked if she'd ever heard of the Migos. We are all Joanna Mattrey.