Matthew Stewart is a New York City-based trombonist, Arts administrator and production manager. He began his musical training in public school at age 9, starting first on euphonium and tuba and transitioning to tenor trombone in college. Pursuing his career as a musician, educator and administrator, Matthew attended The State University of Buffalo, completing a BA in Music Performance, and The College of Performing Arts at The New School MA in Orchestral Performance. His instrumental teachers include Weston Sprott and Demian Austin (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Jonathan Lombardo (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra) and David Taylor, a legendary bass trombonist and international soloist.
On Saturday, October 29th, Matthew will perform David Baker’s Concert Piece for Trombone and String Orchestra in his TCS soloist debut. In anticipation of the performance, we reached out to him for a behind-the-scenes Q&A session.
The Chelsea Symphony: Can you share any favorite TCS memories?
Matthew Stewart: My favorite memory as a member of the TCS is when I performed the Duke Ellington Nutcracker Suite alongside my wife Tabitha, herself a talented flutist. We first met performing in an orchestra at University of Buffalo and we don’t often get a chance to perform with each other, so when we do it is special. That piece has a kicking trombone solo too!
Also, speaking as a brass player, playing Pines of Rome with TCS with antiphonal brass in the loft at St. Paul’s Church was a sublime feeling. To contribute to such a massive and majestic sound is one of the joys of being an orchestral musician.
TCS: Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
MS:I do a lot of stretching and breathing exercises and a short warm up. My goals before a performance are to be warmed up without over-practicing.
TCS: What is the most fun part of playing a concerto?
MS:The most fun part of playing a concerto is the dialogue between the ensemble and the solo part. There is a back and forth, as well as a coming together that is unique to the form of a concerto. It can feel at times like you are riding at the edge of a wave of sound, which is a special feeling.
TCS: What is the most challenging part of playing a concerto?
MS:The most challenging part of a concerto is navigating the technical passages while remaining lyrical and musical throughout. These types of runs are usually reserved for smaller instruments that have many buttons—not a 3-foot slide—so it takes a lot of creativity and technique to make these passages sound fluid and clean.
TCS: What feelings come up for you when you are playing this piece?
MS:This piece has a strong sense of character and a modern sound and it gives me a feeling of connection to a recent past. David Baker wrote this piece over 30 years ago and I feel fortunate to have discovered it and to be able to share it as a live performance with an orchestra.
TCS: Is there anything else you would like to share about your upcoming solo feature?
MS:I would like to acknowledge the love and support from my family, friends and mentors both now and throughout my journey as a musician. I would also like to thank TCS for being a source of inspiration and joy for myself and my fellow musicians.
Join us at 8pm on Saturday, October 29th at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 West 37th Street for Matthew’s performance of Baker’s Concert Piece!