Joe Johnson premieres another encore by Matt in Toronto

Toronto – Saturday, 26 September, 2015

Two years ago Toronto Symphony principal cellist Joe Johnson  asked Matt to write a two-cello encore piece for him to play with Yo-Yo Ma. The resulting piece, “Yo Yo Joe”, became one of Matt’s most popular pieces.

Joe emailed Matt two days ago. “I’m about to do a string of performances of Brahms’ double concerto. I was just curious if you have any short violin-cello duos that would be appropriate for an encore?” Matt didn’t – but he spent the next two hours or so writing “Big and Little”, and sent Joe the parts the morning of the first performance with the Toronto Symphony, with the TSO’s concertmaster Jonathan Crow. They performed it after the Brahms; “The crowd went nuts,” Joe remarked afterwards, adding that Matt is “becoming a household name on that stage.”

Click here to see the video of the encore, “Big and Little”.

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ALIAS Chamber Ensemble releases “Boiling Point: Music of Kenji Bunch”


ALIAS Chamber Ensemble has completed “Boiling Point: Music of Kenji Bunch”, the Grammy-nominated ensemble’s second CD. The disc is now available at, and for download on iTunes, and was officially released on September 25 at a CD drop event at the CMA Atrium on Nashville’s Music Row.

The CD release event featured performance by composer/violist Kenji Bunch, special guest artist Tracy Silverman, and members of Grammy-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble.

The album download on iTunes includes the bonus track, “Double Down”, which is an improvised duo by Kenji Bunch on viola and ALIAS’ Matt Walker on cello.


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Yo-Yo Ma and Joe Johnson premiere Matt Walker’s “Yo-Yo Joe” as encore in Toronto Symphony concert

Thursday, May 31, 2012 – Toronto, ON

About six weeks ago, Joe Johnson, principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony, suggested to Matt that he write a piece for two cellos. The occasion? “Yo-Yo Ma is playing Elgar concerto with Toronto at the end of May,” Joe said. “He and I like to play an encore together, some kind of interesting, fun cello duo.”

Matt got to work and produced “Yo-Yo Joe” within a week or so, and sent it to Joe. It’s a Latin jazz set interspersed with blues and swing, something that infuses most of Matt’s music.

[See the video HERE]

Afterwards, Joe provided a blow-by-blow account of the performance. “We launched into the opening, super slow and rubato, very fun. When the Latin section started, the audience started cheering and clapping with the beat for a while. When we got to the Swing section, there were more hoots; we were both stomping our feet on the ground, just having a blast. On the final note, the audience started going nuts, and then when we finished it was like bedlam. People loved it.”

Joe added that it was a thrill to perform with Yo-Yo Ma: “Getting to play this piece with my idol in front of 2100 people was incredible.”

Matt was similarly humbled: “It is a privilege to have my piece premiered by such fantastic musicians. Everyone knows how great Yo-Yo Ma is; and Joe is one of the very finest cellists in the business right now, both as an orchestral leader and as a solo artist.” (Johnson recently released a CD of sonatas by Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich with pianist Victor Asuncion.)

“I wrote ‘Yo-Yo Joe’ for these specific cellists, as the name implies,” Matt added. “And I can’t think of a better pair of cellists to play this work, and I’m a cellist myself.”

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The reviews are in…

Assorted rave reviews of ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and Nashville Ballet collaboration, “Emergence”, including premiere of Matt Walker’s “Arabian Blues”

Nashville Scene – Nashville Ballet, Alias Chamber Ensemble and Watkins join forces for an adventurous evening of music, dance and visual art

ArtNowNashville – Team Effort: Nashville Ballet, ALIAS and Watkins College premiere four new works

BroadwayWorld – Emergence shows off artistic collaboration at its very best



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“Arabian Blues” commissioned by the Nashville Ballet

Matt has recently completed his “Arabian Blues” for English horn, clarinet, viola and cello. The piece has been commissioned by the Nashville Ballet and will be premiered on the Ballet’s Emergence series on May 17-19, 2012, with new choreography by the Ballet’s Artistic Director Paul Vasterling.

<<<Read the interview with Matt and Paul>>>

Matt’s piece is one of four chamber music works that will be performed by ALIAS Chamber Ensemble on the Ballet’s program. Each work will receive new choreography by four different choreographers. Emergence is the Ballet’s annual showcase of new and emerging talent from across artistic genres.

For more information about the event and the project, you can read about it on ALIAS’ website here.


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