Sherri Matthew arranges and records liturgical music for Irish wire-strung harp. In 2014 she released her first CD Vox Celeste, an album with eight tracks evocative of Enya’s vocal layering and filled with a timeless quality derived from classical, sacred and medieval musical influences.
The Gregorian chant melodies that form the basis of all the tracks are modal instead of the familar major/minor keys found in popular music, invoking a sense often felt around the holidays.
The track Afer Ventus on Enya’s 1991 Warner Music release Watermark significantly influenced Sherri’s studio recording style, and she studied the recording technology and methods used by Enya to achieve that sound, on that album and others released by the Irish artist:
Sherri Matthew studied piano and business administration at SUNY Fredonia from 1987 to 1991 and completed her B.A. with honors at Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT in 2007 in music, studying composition, sacred music and arranging on pipe organ.
She was introduced to the harp as an independent study in the fall of 2006, surveying the general history of harps, and came across the clairseach, or wire-strung harp in her research and fell in love with the sound. After her May 2007 graduation, Sherri gave up organ and continued her harp studies at the Irish Harp School at Castleconnell, Ireland. In 2009, Triplett Harps of San Luis Obispo, CA built her modern wire harp, Luna.
The wire harp was traditionally (for 2,000 years) a secular instrument and not played during the Mass. Sherri plays arranged Gregorian chant, sacred vocal music normally reserved for unaccompanied singing. Her studio work is layered many times to recreate a cathedral ambiance.
For each track on Vox Celeste, she created either a pencil or a color pencil drawing to accompany it in a glossy 16-page booklet for the CD.
In January 2019 Green Mountain College announced its intention to close at the end of the spring semester. Sherri did a series of fundraising/awareness harp videos on YouTube to try save her alma mater.
For fun she enjoys playing tunes and ornaments from O’Neill’s 1850 book of Irish fiddle tunes and the Dance Music of Ireland on her specially made wire cross-strung harp Esabelle, built by Stoney End Harps of Red Wing, MN in 2015. She is also learning to play jazz on nylon strings with Loveland levers on her pretty little cardboard kit harp, that she named Jasmine’s Harp, by Backyard Music of Hamden, CT.
She is married to George Matthew Jr. organist of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Middlebury, VT and carillonneur, Middlebury College and Norwich University, VT. They live in Brandon, Vermont with their six adopted cats Jake, Jasmine, Donella, Toni, Willow, and Daisy. In her spare time she crochets kitty blankets and catnip toys for donation to Rutland County Humane Society.