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Improvising cellist Matt Turner brings us this haunting piece in response to the theme of "poverty" and two verses from the Psalms.

Psalms 102:17

Psalms 140:12

Two Prayers


Matt Turner


Composer and Recorded By Matt Turner
Artist Location: Wisconsin
Artist Photo: John Beaver

Curated by: 

Jonathon Roberts


Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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"Two Prayers" is an improvisation for multi-tracked electric cello. The piece consists of two distinct sections with each part representing a prayer, hence the title. The first prayer is one of anguish and questioning. The second prayer is a desperate plea. As a child, I remember reading the Psalms and being drawn to the imagery and colors of each psalm. Concise and powerful, these writings are full and vibrant much like this verse. In this verse, destituteness means more than being poverty-stricken. Here it represents those who are grieving, suffering, or lost, and I have attempted to capture this in "Two Prayers" as a lamentation transforming into resolution.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Matt Turner is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading improvising cellists. Equally skilled as a pianist, Turner performs in myriad of styles and has shared the stage with Cape Breton fiddle sensation Natalie MacMaster, avant-garde musicians Marilyn Crispell, Peter Kowald, Guillermo Gregorio, Scott Fields, and John Butcher, country musician Wanda Vick, singer-songwriter LJ Booth, and jazz musician Bobby McFerrin to name a few and has performed in Canada, Europe and Asia. He appears on over 100 recordings on Sketch/Harmonia Mundi, Nato /Hope Street, Ayler, Illusions, Music and Arts, Accurate, Polyvinyl, Cadence Jazz and others and has recorded with jazz violinist Randy Sabien, goth vocalist/pianist Jo Gabriel, singer-songwriters Mark Croft and Tret Fure, punk artist Kyle Fischer, Kitty Brazelton’s chamber rockestra Dadadah, alt-country band Heller Mason and with the Pointless Orchestra. Turner completed his undergraduate studies at Lawrence University and his Master of Music degree in Third Stream Studies (now the Contemporary Improvisation program) at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Dave Holland, Geri Allen and Joe Maneri, and where he was the recipient of a Distinction in Performance Award. As a leader, Turner’s recordings appear on Illusions, Stellar, O.O. Discs, Asian Improv, Penumbra, Fever Pitch, Geode, Tautology, and Meniscus Records. His music is published by Carl Fischer, Alfred Music, Latham, and Alliance. Turner is a Yamaha Performing Artist, teaches improvisation at Lawrence University and currently performs and records with Bill Carrothers, Randy Sabien, Karmadog and with the Jean-Marc Foltz Trio.

(Photo by John Beaver)

Matt Turner

About the Artist

Matt Turner

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