When was your first encounter with music?
My first interaction with music that really started my love for it was in the late 90’s; my parents had just purchased a new Windows computer, and with it came a few CD applications. The one that caught my attention was the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. It was truly meant for research purposes I am sure, but for an 8-year-old boy the large library of interesting videos and music was enough entertainment for hours. I grew extremely fond of the seemingly endless selection of music recordings. With selections from different regions all over the world, and samplings of most eras of western musical history, it truly shaped what my musical interests would be for the rest of my life. I ended up using this program as entertainment for years, during which I became very fond of the jazz recordings. The sweet sounds of Louis Armstrong and the vivacious notes of Charlie Parker would ultimately lead to my desire to play a wind instrument.
When/How did you start playing your instrument?
Some may not know that I actually started on clarinet in middle school band, I really wanted to play the saxophone, but we were required to play clarinet for a year first. About halfway through my first year on clarinet my band director told me that our band needed an oboe player and she thought a fellow clarinet player and I showed promise. She decided that we would both audition on clarinet for the opportunity to learn to play oboe and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. I finally got my hands on the saxophone in 7th grade and played it till the end high school, but the oboe had already stolen my heart and the prospect of playing in an orchestra one day didn’t seem too bad either!
When did you decide to make music your career?
I can remember the exact moment I knew that music was my passion and that I would eventually make a career with it. It was near the end of my 7th grade year after one of our concerts at school. I was talking with my parents and director about the concert when our conversation evolved to how much I had grown over the last few years in band, and that it was clear I had talent for music. This led me to inquire about how a professional musician made a career, and what some of the options were. After our conversation about it, I was so pumped about music as a career, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I guess I never did! From that moment on, I had made the decision that I was going to be a performer, and that music was to be apart of my life forever. I always consider myself very lucky in this regard because I know so many people who search for a much longer time until they find their passion, I was just fortunate to stumble on my passion at an early age.
What is your favorite memory of a performance?
This is a tough question for any musician because we all have so many wonderful memories while performing, although I’ll admit we all have some bad memories too! Rather than give you one specific memory, I think it’s best to list a few of my favorites, as I can’t seem to find just one. Performing with all of my colleagues at the MWF has certainly been some of the most musically satisfying moments of my career. The high level of artistry in this group is truly special, and I just love making music with my friends. Some of the other truly special moments would be performing music of the Spanish Baroque with the Austin Baroque Orchestra at one of the Missions in San Antonio, TX. Performing with Josh Groban in Dallas was definitely like nothing I had experienced yet as a performer. Having a microphone shoved up my oboe, looking out to a sea of people, having your ears violated by a drum set 10 ft from you, and not to mention someone of considerable fame being on the same stage as you is just something you don’t get as a classical musician very often. Finally, my experiences at the International Baroque Institute at Longy (IBIL for short) will be something I will always cherish. The faculty is always, quit literally, the best performers on their instruments in the country, and I always learn such invaluable insights from each of them. Aside from the location in beautiful Cambridge and the phenomenal music making, the best thing about the institute are the people you get to meet from all over the world; from professionals to students, to the avid amateur. All of who turn into lasting friendships and connections.
What do you like to do outside of music?
When I am not practicing or slaving away at reeds you can typically find me outdoors doing something with my dog Archie. I am an avid hiker and love being immersed in nature. I think plants and animals are fascinating and if I were not a musician I would most likely be a wildlife photographer or some other career that requires being out in nature. I also enjoy reading and try to have other artistic outlets such as ceramics and painting.
You go, Matt! We look forward to seeing you again this summer!