About Matt

About Matt

After two years as an English major at James Madison University, cellist Matt Walker transferred to Florida State University, where in 1991 he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music. After playing for three years with the Jacksonville Symphony and then five years with the Charleston Symphony, Matt won a position in the cello section in the Nashville Symphony in 1999.

In 2002 Matt was one of the founding members of ALIAS Chamber Ensemble in Nashville, TN, appearing as cellist, composer, bassist, and guitarist. He served as the organization’s Executive Director from 2009-2011. The ensemble has garnered much critical acclaim locally and nationally for its artistry and adventurous programming, which has included several of his own compositions.

Matt is featured on ALIAS’ first CD, “Hilos”, music of Gabriela Lena Frank, released on Naxos’ “American Classics” label in 2011; he also co-produced the disc, which received a Grammy-nomination for Best Small Ensemble Perfromance.

Since coming to Nashville, Matt has also:

  • Appeared numerous times on WPLN’s “Live in Studio C”, including one program of his own compositions
  • Performed nationally on NPR’s “Performance Today”
  • Self-produced two CDs as a guitarist/songwriter (“Rhythm of the Road” and “No Fiddles”) as well as playing cello on countless other recordings
  • Played live with a variety of rock, jazz and country artists at 3rd & Lindsley, the French Quarter Cafe, the Exit-In, the Basement, and the Nashville Jazz Workshop, among other popular Nashville venues
  • Performed three of his own works as guitar and cello soloist on the Nashville Symphony’s Young Peoples Concerts

As a composer as well as a performing musician, Matt has written many pieces which he has performed around the country. From years of working closely with many musicians in other genres (notably Lyle Lovett and Chet Atkins, as well as countless Nashville recording artists), many of his compositions have become heavily swing- and blues-influenced. Among these are several pieces for various instrumental pairings with the cello (flugelhorn, violin, viola) and jazz piano trio. These pieces rely on the cellist (as well as the rhythm section) to improvise over standard jazz chord progressions.

Several of Matt’s solo cello pieces are imitative of blues guitar music, and thus require complex finger-picking patterns and left-hand “hammer-on” techniques. Matt’s writing also calls for the player to use the cello to imitate a bass and drumset as needed. Two of these pieces were featured on three Nashville Symphony’s YPC programs in 2008.

His Quartet “Sixes and Sevens” for Clarinet, Marimba, Cello and Bass, also in a jazz vein but with a modern mixed-meter structure, was premiered in its totality in 2016 by ALIAS Chamber Ensemble in Nashville. The piece garnered much attention and was an audience favorite.