Houston Chronicle said of Pecos Bill: "Matthew Pierce's music is possibly the best commissioned score in Houston Ballet's history, and conductor Ermanno Florio and the Houston Ballet Orchestra find all the nuances. It opens and closes with high violins conjuring up crickets at night. Then coyotes howl and snap. Thunder crashes from the tympanis. Once humans enter the picture, familiar tunes -- Happy Trails to You, The Yellow Rose of Texas and Deep in the Heart of Texas -- are woven in seamlessly."
Pierce was born in Brooklyn on July 24, 1968, into a family rich in artistic talent. His father, Michael, a painter, and his mother, Catherine, a sculptor, now based in Seattle, gave Matthew his start in the music world in 1976 with formal violin training, and also instilled in him an appreciation for the regional bluegrass and American folk music of his father's Tennessee roots. Matthew's great grandfather, Johnny Pierce, a soybean and corn farmer, toured depression era Appalachia with his banjo.
Pierce moved to New York in 1992 after completing his Masters of Music at The Peabody Conservatory. He abandoned the classical violin performance avenue he initially sought and became a prominent member of the downtown Off-Broadway theater scene. As resident composer of HERE Theater he won a Meet the Composer grant, wrote many incidental and dance scores and performed a selection from his opera, The Cry Pitch Carrolls at the 1999 Village Voice Obie Awards.
Early exposure to the ballet world (his brother Benjamin is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet) developed in Pierce a special passion for the music of dance. He has written ballet scores for Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Ohio Ballet, Ballet Met, Cincinnati Ballet, Maximum Dance of Miami, New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Night, a full orchestra score set to a Chagall inspired dreamscape ballet has been seen at the Opera Garnier in Paris, Covent Garden in London and most recently at City Center in New York. His most recent work for San Francisco Ballet, Imaginal Disc was voted "Best Cultural Event of 2003" by the San Francisco Chronicle.
John Schaefer has featured Pierce's work with the guitarist Byron Estep in their new music duo The Unsung String Duo on the National Public Radio show "New Sounds." He has also performed on recordings by pop artists Jewel, Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega and on Philip Glass' score, Kundun. Pierce is a visiting professor of violin at the Montclair State University and is in his seventh year as the musical director and conductor of their youth symphonies. His home and studio are in Astoria, NY.