Profile image of Matteo Fargion

Matteo Fargion

Matteo Fargion was born in Milan in 1961, moving with his family to Yorkshire in England and then South Africa, before settling finally in London where he now lives. He began studying classical guitar before entering the University of Natal to continue music studies under the guidance of the composer Kevin Volans, whose composition teaching became an important influence on his later music and performance work. Following the contemporary music scene centred at that time in Germany, Fargion moved to Europe after graduation and worked for a time under the English experimental composer Howard Skempton. Kevin Volans also moved to Europe at this time, and the 'New Simplicity' movement headed in Cologne by Volans, Gerald Barry and Chris Newman set a precedent for the clarity of concept, composition and reference which is a benchmark of Fargion's work. He also played bass guitar for a time in the rock band headed by Chris Newman, a formative experience of live performance.

It was at this time that his interest in contemporary dance began, after seeing the Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform at the Sadler's Wells Theatre. This experience encouraged him to apply for the International Course for Choreographers and Composers, where he first wrote music for dance, and through which he met the choreographer Jonathan Burrows with whom he has collaborated for more than twenty years. Initially he wrote music for Burrows' choreography, including Dull morning cloudy mild (1989), Stoics (1991), Very (1992), Our (1994), Hands (1995), The Stop Quartet (with Kevin Volans, 1996), Things I Don't Know (1998) and Singing (1999).

Fargion was performing onstage already in some of these early choreographies, including Things I Don't Know, in which he presented one of his most popular pieces Donna Che Beve, a virtuosic percussion performance for three amplified cardboard boxes.

Over the past ten years Burrows and Fargion have made a series of six duets conceived, choreographed, composed, administrated and performed together, redefining their collaboration on more equal terms and bringing Fargion full-time onto the stage. i]Both Sitting Duet, followed by The Quiet Dance (2005), Speaking Dance (2006), Cheap Lecture (2009), The Cow Piece (2009), Counting To One Hundred (2011), One Flute Note (2012), Show And Tell (2013), Rebelling Against Limit (2013) and Body Not Fit For Purpose (2014) are all still touring, and the two men have now given over 300 performances across Belgium, Germany, UK, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Italy, Austria, France, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, Ireland, USA, Finland, Lithuania, Brazil, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, South Korea, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Turkey and Australia. Both Sitting Duet won a 2004 New York Dance and Performance 'Bessie' Award, and Cheap Lecture was chosen for the prestigious 2009 Het Theaterfestival in Belgium.

Fargion has written music for other choreographers including Lynda Gaudreau, Jeremy James, Karl Jay-Lewin and Russell Maliphant. Most importantly over the past fifteen years he has developed a strong collaboration with the leading English choreographer Siobhan Davies, writing music for some of her most significant recent work including The Art of Touch (1995), Two Quartets (2007) and Minutes (2009), in which he also performed.

Fargion writes also for theatre, particularly in Germany, where he has worked over a number of years at the Residenz Theater Munich, and at the Berlin Schaubühne under the direction of Thomas Ostermeier, for whom he wrote music for the prize winning 2004 production of Jon Fosse's play The Girl on the Sofa, a hit that year at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Matteo is a long-time visiting member of faculty at P.A.R.T.S, the school of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in Brussels, where he has worked on a new approach to teaching composition to young choreographers, within a framework of music practice but built also on his wealth of experience as a performer.