Rising star composer and violist Matt Laing took part in the Flinders Quartet’s Composer Development Program last year and the Quartet will premiere his new work Out of Hibernation, in their first program this year. The composer tells us about working with the Flinders Quartet and studying with Brett Dean in Berlin.

Matt Laing, Viola, Flinders Quartet Matt Laing. Photo © Sharon Gertner

What inspires you to compose?

Mainly just an interest in sound, and combinations of sound, and the evocative and expressive possibilities. I mostly work as a viola player, and that is a great way to learn a work as a whole, but in almost every context the viola part has a subservience to something else so often it can feel like, for better or for worse, you’re serving someone else’s vision. So from a creative point of view, with composing I know that it’ll be good or rubbish, but that’ll happen on my terms, and I like the creative responsibility of that.

Are there advantages or disadvantages to being a viola player when it comes to composition?

I think it’s generally an advantage, particularly for ensemble writing. Violists play music of every era, and so...