22 July 2023
Sometimes an artist jumps out from the crowd as unique, innovative, hugely talented and packed with potential. Following his organ recital at Wells Cathedral, Matt Walters, star is certainly in the ascendant.
Where would you find a concert programme which included works by Handel, Kate Bush, Ennio Morricone and Dieterich Buxtehude? Such is the breadth of Walters’ repertoire that he can place these next to each other and it feels natural; added to this he creates mashups between them offering up originality which blows the mind – Pachelbel crossed with Maroon 5? – it works like a dream.
23 year-old Walters hails from Somerset and started his musical journey learning the piano and organ and, under his alter ego, Reductio, took to DJ-ing, creating his own style of music alongside his education; studying Classics at Cambridge University where he held an organ scholarship. Taking to social media Matt has built a firm and growing following with his quirky and inspiring videos and now with live performances he will continue to gain in popularity.
The magnificent surroundings of Wells Cathedral offer up a theatrical setting as the quire is packed to capacity; some of those present, will know the artist and some will be coming across him for the first time.
The programme starts with classical staples and two of Walters’ signature mashups; what comes over immediately is the sensitivity of the musician as he uses the instrument to its full potential.
Walters own compositions create a frisson through the audience; these are stunning, allowing him to set out his skillset in all its glory. The trio of ‘lux’, ‘tranquilitas’ and ‘fortuna’ suggest influences of Hans Zimmer, Michael Nyman and Philip Glass; the ‘Prelude in E Minor’ is more classically traditional with maybe hints of Handel, Widor and Saint-Saëns. These compositions further illustrate the talents on display.
Like many musicians, improvisation creates a fulfilling challenge, but offering this up within a concert is unusual and shows a huge degree of confidence. In the last segment before the interval an audience member is plucked out to create a short phrase on the organ from which Walters creates a composition; the audience is gripped and in awe.
Walters’ love of film music creates the majority of the second half with some known and lesser known works by the aforementioned Hans Zimmer, Nino Rota and Howard Shore. These are followed by another favourite genre; the hymn, and here there is audience participation. The recital concludes with Zimmer’s mesmeric piece ‘Time’ from the film ‘Inception’.
Introducing the concert, chairman of the on-going Grand Organ Restoration Appeal, David Morgan-Hewitt, tells the audience that the Wells Cathedral organ is on its last legs – hence the appeal – but that when we witness it being played by Matt Walters, we would never know. How right he is!
Walters displays a deep understanding of the pipe organ and the music which he plays; it is full of colour and love of humanity and of passion. He allows the instrument to use its full voice when required and is mindful of the need for restraint.
The audience is left deep in admiration at this talented musician who is impossible to categorise, something which is going to be to his advantage in the future. The world of TikTok and Instagram are embracing this unique, modest and engaging young man and the chance to witness his work first-hand is nothing short of glorious. Keep your eyes open for Matt Walters online (follow him on @reductiomusic ) or in person and savour in his artistry, his passion, his humour and his undeniable ability.
In the programme for the evening, Matt says that “striking a balance between tradition and innovation is an art in itself.” This is completely borne out by this concert and may he continue to innovate and develop. What is created here is dynamic, theatrical, unconventional and inclusive. It is utterly refreshing.
An inspiring, encouraging and unique recital by an artist of awesome talent and foresight.