Matthew Coley


"Thank you so much for your performance at the Arcata Playhouse! Though surrounded by marimbas every day, it is a rare event to hear our marimba played by such a talented artist. Your playing brought out the best in our marimba." -Denise Fitzgerald, Marimba One


"Everyone had a wonderful time with Matthew -- in fact I'd say it bordered on magical. He touched a lot of young lives, and we really appreciated his willingness to move the marimba to [Albion and] Petersburg." -Albion Arts Council, Nebraska


“Percussionist Matthew Coley…delivering virtuoso performances…captures the attention…[With] exquisite soloing on marimba…Coley coming to Chicago serves as a reminder of what we lost when he left for an appointment at Iowa State University.” -by Lauren Warnecke,


“Coley rips across the strings of the hammered dulcimer with abandon bordering on delirium!” –by Linda Shapiro, ChicagoPress Review


" one of the 'up and coming' stars of percussion. His performance at PASIC [2012] this last year showed that he was one of the best-of-the-best." -Kevin Lepper; percussion instructor, VanderCook College of Music, Chicago


"Our audience was very pleased, Dr. Coley’s musical skill is off the charts and his repertoire selection was eclectic and served as a great introduction to a traditionally 'obscure' instrument. I was particularly pleased with the way he took time after the performance to connect with our patrons. That speaks volumes of his professionalism and personality." -John Cook, Westminster Presbyterian Fine Arts Series


“Matthew is an outstanding musician with technique that will make your jaw drop combined with a musical sensitivity and understanding for what he plays.” –Russell Vinick; conductor, Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, McHenry Youth Orchestras, Lakeview Symphony Orchestra


“Your performance of Khan Variations is wonderful. It has polyphonic clarity, rhythmic precision and pace. Balancing these three aspects is -in my opinion- essential in this piece and your performance achieves just that. Congratulations!” –Alejandro Viñao; composer, London


“His speed and accuracy always astounds me even when the technical aspects of the music seem insurmountable. Yet he never looses the sense of the music, and has a gifted ear with regards to expressive details and nuance of sound. He commits to the music whole heartedly, and this can be seen in the dynamic and exciting physicality that is also part of his performances. It is not surprising that he also excels at dance and choreography, as he views movement to be central to his vision of music.” –Bjorn Berkhout; composer, Queensbouro Community College


“As the maker of Matthew’s 5-octave Marimba One marimba, I have heard Matthew create sounds and expressions that are uniquely his own—beautiful and clear in communicating his vision of music.” –Ron Samuels; designer and owner, Marimba One


"It's just great performing and recording with such an outstanding professional as Matthew Coley. He gathered a wonderful group of musicians and we rocked!" –Barbara Haffner; cellist, Lyric Opera of Chicago


“Matthew Coley is a virtuoso musician who possesses an enormous intellectual and emotional range whether performing on the marimba or any number of other instruments. Highly recommended!” –James Ross; percussionist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra


"I would say that Matthew Coley's personality irradiates something warm, friendly and at the same time very aristocratic. He's a young, clever and brilliant star that is rapidly gaining international recognition. Musicians working with him, feel that they are creating together something very valuable, distinctive and unique. It's a direct result from Matthew's versatility as marimba, dulcimer and percussion player, his skills as composer, experience in programming concerts, and also his rich background in dance and choreography. It's a blessing for us to have such an outstanding musician!" –Daniel Galay; composer, Israel


“I still remember your wonderful performance of my Concerto. I think that Matthew played it just as I had imagined it before. He showed a great virtuosity and an outstanding musicality. Matthew is just a perfect artist.” –Marcin Blazewicz; composer, Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music


“I really thought your performance at University of North Texas was wonderful, very inspiring!” –Paul Rennick, UNT Professor of Percussion


“I have just come from a live WFMT broadcast of Matthew Coley (marimba player) and the MIC’s wonderful Mary Drews [piano] and flutist, Scott Metlicka. Their concert was truly outstanding. Matthew Coley (he’s really a STAR) had started their group, “Sonic Inertia” and I have a new appreciation for marimba.” –Jim Jennings, Music Institute of Chicago Board Member


“You are a fine player, amazing!” –Igor Sarmientos, conductor (Guatemala, Moldova)


“Thank you once more for your brilliant participation in The Days of New Music International Festival. All the musicians are delighted with your performance and your master-classes.” –Ghenadi Ciobanu, composer (Moldova)


“If you ever need a very fine percussion-player: ask Matthew. I can assure you: He is cool, flexible, virtuous and works very quickly. A true professional !!” –Raymond Munnecom, basstrombonist Royal Concertgebouworchestra Amsterdam and conductor Amsterdam Conservatory Brass


“The Concerto for marimba and orchestra of Jorge Sarmientos performed by the American virtuoso, Matthew Coley became an effective and incendiary episode of opening of festival”. –“Sources of Life” Newspaper, Chisinau, Moldova (Snejana Pislari. A lot of voices - one world, 2008


Awards & Grants

Finalist, Web Concert Hall International Competition, 2012

Recipient of Iowa Arts Council Mini-Grants, 2010 and 2011, and Project Grants, 2013 (Iowa Days of Percussion) and 2015 (Heartland Marimba Festival)

Third Place, 5th World Marimba Competition, Stuttgart, Germany, 2008
(first American to ever place in this competition)

Illinois Arts Council Artstour Roster Performer, 2007-2009

Recipient of a Northwestern University School of Music European Travel Grant, 2008, 2009

Recipient of a Special Assistance Grant, Illinois Arts Council, 2006, 2008

Recipient of a Community Arts Assistance Program Grant, City of Chicago, 2006, 2008

Third place, WAMSO Young Artist Competition, Minnesota Orchestra, 2005

Finalist and semi-finalist, Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Young Artist Competition, 2004, 2005

Winner of the Percussive Arts Society Marimba Concerto Competition, 2000

Percussionist of the Year, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, 2001

National winner, Music Teacher’s National Association Solo Percussion Competition, 2000

Percussion winner for the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award, 1999

Greensboro Music Teachers Association Music Scholarship, NC, 1999

Euterpe Club of Greensboro Music Scholarship, NC, 1999

Second place, Marimba Marching Percussion Competition, PASIC, Atlanta, GA, 1998

Recipient of the A.J. Fletcher Music Scholarship, East Carolina University, Greensboro, NC, 1997