EX CATHEDRA | Matthew Reeve - alto

From our ‘The Grand Tour’ programme, October 2015

Born in Birmingham, Matthew spent his formative years in Solihull, where he sang regularly with St Alphege Choir. He attended King Edward’s School, renowned for its excellent musical tradition, and became School Organist by virtue of being the only person around his age who even knew where the console was. His voice broke early, and he spent a number of years as a baritone, performing a cameo falsetto solo in a school performance of West Side Story.

At university in Southampton, Matthew started to discover that Computer Science was not all it was cracked up to be, and took to spending all of his time singing with choral groups, including a church choir run by Director of Vocal Studies, Keith Davies, a countertenor. During this choral scholarship, Matthew saw the errors of his ways and switched from baritone to alto.

On completing his degree, Matthew spent a year singing at Truro Cathedral, before returning back to Birmingham to study as a postgraduate at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he first met Jeffrey and a number of other Ex Cathedra members, although it took him three years to actually audition for the group! Matthew began a 10-year career in administration at the University of Birmingham and continued to sing throughout.

For the last few years Matthew has been working as an IT-focussed Business Intelligence Consultant, having become an expert at a data visualisation tool called Tableau. Despite taking him around Europe, Matthew still regularly sings with Ex Cathedra and is proud to support the Host of Angels.

1. How long have you been a member of Ex Cathedra and why did you join?

Having grown up in Birmingham, I’d always known that Ex Cathedra was the best choir around. It took me until after University to realise that my voice was good enough to sing in choirs like this, and having sung semi-professionally elsewhere I was persuaded to audition and joined in late 2007.

The other reason I want to be part of Ex Cathedra is because of the work it does in the community. I lacked encouragement to pursue music professionally and I want to ensure that others like me have those opportunities. Schemes such as ‘Singing Playgrounds’ and ‘Singing Medicine’ go into the community and expose people to the skill and thrill of singing, and this is why I support Ex Cathedra as an Angel.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

As a consultant, I no longer have such a thing as a “typical day”. I work with strategists in major businesses finding ways of using the data they have to run their businesses more effectively, by implementing modern reporting technologies and providing training.

I’ve frequently bumped into Ex Cathedra members at Euston station as I’ve been a regular commuter to London, but have also worked with clients in Chester, Lancaster, Luxembourg, Zurich, and Krakow. I’m currently working for an airline in London.

When I’m not with clients, I can often be found looking at data sets, or out walking, but can also be found flying small aeroplanes, as I am an avid aviator with a private pilot’s licence.

3. If you could choose to perform again any piece you have performed before with Ex Cathedra, what would it be, and & why?

There have been many special moments in my relatively short career with Ex Cathedra. Some are the result of the huge amount of work our researcher and fellow countertenor Derek Acock puts in to ensure we perform authentically: in particular, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius. However, the most exciting part for me is being able to be part of premieres, and we have been blessed with some fabulous commissions over the last few years, including the 40-part Earthrise by Alec Roth, and Seven Angels by James MacMillan (who I shared a flight with the morning after the premiere).

4. What’s your musical “guilty secret”?

I wrote two prizewinning Christmas carols when I was at school. One won the City of Birmingham Choir’s competition, performed in Symphony Hall in 1999. The second won the (London) Bach Choir’s competition, which was performed in the Royal Albert Hall by a choir including the Duchess of Kent, in 2000. I decided that it was best for me to retire on that compositional high.