Born in 1973, to a very small mining town nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado West of Boulder, Matthew Gurnsey was raised to crisp high altitude air, hard work, and particularly to an early love of music. His father, a hard rock miner had built his own log cabin above the town where he savored the tranquility and freedom afforded by his lifestyle. His mother moved to the mountain hamlet seeking solace and wildflowers amongst other things, but after meeting they soon purchased property on top of a nearby mountain and began settling down to the good work of building a household. Matthew was born soon after and the solace ended there. Lightning struck the house, burning much of it to the ground, the mines shut down, and the small family was forced to live above the small mercantile while they rebuilt. His father found work in the public utilities for a few years until becoming a professional firefighter for the city of Boulder. To bring in the additional money necessary to raise up the family his mother went to work as a librarian in Longmont. Through all the hardships the family faced, music was a consistent source of strength. When there was no electricity, the oil burning lamps would be lit, his mother would tune up her autoharp, and his father break out a guitar or harmonica and they would sing songs of the frontier and the west. Matthew enjoyed many of the normal interests associated with mountain living including horseback riding, backpacking, fishing, photography, reading and rock climbing.
At the suggestion of a school music teacher, Matthew was given piano lessons starting at the age of six, which he continued till the age of thirteen attending various music institutes, competitions and performing concerts as often as the opportunity afforded itself. By the age of 8, he was already performing on high school stages, his first role was that of a workhouse boy in Niwot high school’s production of “Oliver!” He was sent to a private Montessori school from the ages of 9 – 12 where he had the opportunity to study a wide variety of fields and excelled in the open opportunity to further his education and experience. While there he directed and wrote plays and a performance of the Christmas Revels, but he also thrived in other subjects such as archeology, planning and leading his class on a lengthy excursion to Mesa Verde Colorado where they participated in archeological digs in their study of the Anasazi Indians and other past civilizations. He still spent all of his time out of school in the pursuit of music though, having also begun to take violin lessons which he continued for the next ten years, and playing leading roles in stage productions such as Boulder High School’s “The Music Man” where he played Winthrop (age 9). His love for the theater flourished, continuing in leading roles for the next twenty years including The Baker (Into the Woods), The Good Doctor, Prince Charming, Dracula, Gandalf, Antithesis of Syracuse, Oedipus, and many others. Somehow he squeezed in further activities like the Boy Scouts of America and sports such as soccer as well.
Matthew had quite a shock coming out of his Montessori school when he was placed back in the public school system for Jr. High (age 13 – 15). He immersed himself in the study of fine arts, his family sent him to a school out of his normal district because of it’s fine arts program. Matthew sang in every choir he could find, the Jr. High had two audition only choirs, Madrigals and Jazz which met after school, he juggled them with whatever theater rehearsals were going on at the time, and made money on the side by running the schools light and sound system for special interest groups renting the theater in its off hours. He played first violin in the orchestra, playing both the violin and on occasion the string bass (which he also played with the jazz band). He was in the Talented and Gifted club, the book club, was an aid in the library and for various teachers, chairman of the yearbook committee and started the school’s science fiction club. His last year in the Jr. High, out of his class of about 350, he was voted both most likely to succeed, and most talented. His summers were played out in various ways, from working at a 1,040 acre mountain environmental education center where he began as an intern (age 14), then a field instructor (15-18), returned as Operations Director (21-22), and finally as acting Program director (23-25), to the Centerstage theater touring company (age 14 & 15), The Colorado Renaissance Festival singing Madrigals (15–17), and also as a volunteer fire fighter (16-26) where he was an EMT from the age of 21.
He attended Fairview High School in Boulder with a class of about 650, where he became the president of the schools International Thespian Society Guild as a 4star honor thespian with more than 500 theater hours, sang in 7 school choirs (5 of which were by audition including Madrigals for two years and Excalibur), became president of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy club, and TAG (talented and gifted) program. Finding not enough time to take advantage of all these fine arts activities and keep up with his regular curriculum, Matthew supplemented his course load with correspondence courses from Brigham Young University, and won various awards while completing the LDS seminary program. He also participated strongly in the schools peer support team, and played various sports. During the summers when he was not working at the environmental education center, he worked at Boulder’s Dinner theater, and the Country Dinner Playhouse in Denver. He would also go on the annual cattle drive for one of the local herds and began teaching rock climbing.
After High School Matthew served an LDS mission living in, and performing two years of community service for the Philadelphia, PA area (to places like Camden, NJ). When he returned home (age 21), he married, attended the University of Northern Colorado for a degree in Music Education, continued to take correspondence courses through BYU, became a Scoutmaster for the BSA, pioneered two very successful programs for at risk youth, and youth already within the judicial system (one of these programs still flourishes in the Front Range of Colorado), and divorced (age 25). Over the next few years (ages 25-28) he took a long awaited trip to Scotland and the Orkney Islands, Worked with the Red Cross in disaster recovery such as the Oklahoma City Tornado (5/99), Met Tanya for the first time, went to the University of Alaska for a Journalism degree, fished of the coast of Alaska on a professional shrimping vessel, Became the director of the hospitality program for the University of Alaska at Anchorage, and upon returning home to Colorado at last became the Director of Property Management for Pearl Street Mall Properties, in Boulder. From the ages of 28-31 Matthew started dating Tanya, quit his job at PSMP to come on the road with her singing and playing Celtic music professionally, started his own recording studio (Arkenstone Design) worked at various Renaissance Festivals both musically and in shops such as Chischilly Pottery, New Pterodactyl Leather, and Unicorn Strings. Matthew married Tanya, took up playing the concertina and hammered dulcimer and helped to found The Muses.