Brief Career Narrative
Gustavo Matamoros is a composer/sound artist whose creative output bridges the intersection between electroacoustic music and visual arts. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, he has lived in Miami, Florida since 1979 and became U.S. citizen in 2004.
He creates both multichannel sound art installation works for exhibitions; and multichannel digital/electroacoustic music compositions for performance. They are works that are site-specific, combining three main elements: the content (the sounds we hear), the instrument (or technology), and the acoustical architecture, all coming together as one unified experience that aims to elicit an emotional response from the listener.
Matamoros has a long history of introducing a holistic experimental sound art experience to a broader audience. In 1989, he founded the Subtropics Music Festival, which invited sound artists from across the globe for a two-to-three-week -long festival, at various venues throughout Miami-Dade County. He is responsible for bringing to Miami over 200 such artists as John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor, Alison Knowles, Kenneth Goldsmith, Jackson MacLow, John Giorno, Carles Santos, Derek Bailey, Steve Reich, Trimpin, Robert Ashley, Chris Mann, David Dunn and Tania León for important community interaction projects since 1989. He also started the Frozen Music project in 2009, a sound art collective that includes David Dunn and Rene Barge, which emerged from the notion that audiences for sound art and experimental music are typically small and that in order to maximize accessibility, sound art and acoustically interactive compositions should be brought to where people already gathered.
In the 40 years of his compositional and sound art career, Matamoros has received nearly 60 commissions from art institutions. These include The Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts*, New American Radio, The Swiss Institute, Center for Cultural Collaborations International, New Music America Festival, Perez Art Museum Miami*, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, HistoryMiami*, and ArtCenter/South Florida.*
He has received commissions from performers such as percussionists Jan Williams, Meridian Arts Ensemble, singers Jackie Humbert, oboist Joseph Celli, guitarists Davey Williams, Orquesta Solistas de Venezuela, contrabassists Bertram Turetzky, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and poets Robert Gregory and Adrian Castro.
He also collaborated and performed with artists such as Alison Knowles, David Behrman, George E. Lewis, Christian Wolff, Joan LaBarbara, Paula Matthusen, Chris Mann and Thomas Buckner, among others
Matamoros has received two Knight Arts Challenge (KAC) Awards from The Knight Foundation, the first in 2010 to realize his public sound art project, Listening Gallery (2011-15); and a second KAC to produce his 30-channel sound art project, Audiotheque 2.0 (Sept. 13-Dec. 15, 2018). Both of these projects took place at ArtCenter/South Florida and required matching funds which came from the City of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, The Culture Builds Florida State Program and ArtCenter/South Florida.
In 2015, he produced the 120-channel sound piece SoundSpace,in a collaborative large-scale work with his sound art collective Frozen Music, that was commissioned for broadcast over the New World Symphony’s outdoor multichannel Constellation Sound System at Soundscape Park on Miami Beach. The event was a collaboration with the Subtropics Festival, and presented in partnership with New World Symphony.
Other creative performances with his sound-art collective Frozen Music include the 24-hour-long, 4-channel performance Pond—a featured event of the 2014 ISEA Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness International Conference—staged at the Duck Pond, University of New Mexico’s Main Campus; the 2018 performance of May In NY, as part of the Interpretations Series at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY; and Frozen Music’s premiere event, the one-city-block-long performative sound installation Canal, commissioned by the City of Miami Beach and experienced by 50,000 people during that city’s Sleepless Night 2009.
In 2005, the Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts commissioned Gustavo Matamoros to create a large-scale sound and video performative installation with collaborator, experimental installation artist and filmmaker Charles Recher titled Cars & Fish, which premiered in December of that year as part of Art Basel Miami.
In 2004, he received an Art-In-State-Buildings commission for his sound installation Breezeway, for the Paul Cejas School of Architecture Building by Bernard Tschumi at Florida International University in Miami.
In 2000, he received the South Florida Consortium Visual and Media Fellowship; as well as a Florida Individual Media Artist Fellowship; and in 1995, he received a Florida Music Composition Individual Artist Fellowship.
In January 2019, he became resident artist with En Residencia—a commissioning program of Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts. For it he created the work Tilde, Tilde featuring the sounds and the voices of the unique Miami neighborhood of Little Havana. Tilde, Tilde, which incorporated a projected environment by Freddy Jouwayed, received its première October 26 and 27, 2019 at the Koubek Center in Little Havana.
In a 2008 article for New Music Box, titled, “Acoustic Ecology and The Experimental Music Tradition,” David Dunn sums up Gustavo Matamoros as a sound artist and “community designer.” Throughout his career, he has aimed to create a listening community attuned to the sensorial environment all around us.
* Since Matamoros began his relationships with Miami-based organizations, several have had name changes: The Adriane Arsht Center for the Performing Arts was formerly known as Miami Performing Arts Center and Carnival Center for the Performing Arts; The Perez Art Museum Miami was formerly named Miami Art Museum and Center for the Fine Arts; Miami Historical Museum of Southern Florida was rebranded to HistoryMiami; and ArtCenter/South Florida is now renamed Oolite Arts.