Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Elgin Symphony Spotlight

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is featured on Polyphonic.org's current Orchestra Spotlight.

Read article here.

Highlights of this article are an interview with my good friend and colleague, Charlie Schuchat. Charlie is the principal tubist of the Elgin Symphony, as well as being one the top freelance musicians in Chicago. You can also listen to a two-minute clip of the ESO's recent recording for Naxos.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beatrice et Benedict Reviews

There are only three shows left of Chicago Opera Theater's production of Beatrice et Benedict by Hector Berlioz. Below are reviews from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Tribune review here.

Chicago Sun-Times review here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Non-Musical Skills for the Modern Orchestral Musician

Very often, I have conversations with my colleagues about what is wrong with the current landscape of professional orchestras today. Many musicians complain about "management", conductors, declining or undereducated audiences, not enough pay or benefits, etc. While these are all valid concerns, I don't hear too many musicians having conversations about what we, as individuals or collectively, can do better.

This morning, I ran across two very intriguing articles that deal with this very subject matter. Ironically, both articles are concerned with pedagogy, both institutional and individual.

Bassist, Jason Heath, has an excellent ongoing series, entitled Road Warrior without an Expense Account. This post, Rethinking Music Performance Degrees, is about how music schools leave modern musicians woefully unprepared for the "real world".

Read article here

In the article,
Do As I Say: Music Conservatory Culture and its Contribution to Discontentment Among Professional Orchestral Musicians, Sloan Hoffman has some interesting ideas about music schools, college orchestra conductors and applied music faculty. She proposes that all of these factors shape the professional musician's attitude and ability to deal with life in an orchestra.

Read article here

There are some very good and useful ideas in both of these articles. I hope that many musicians, both professional and student, get to read these. There needs to be more of an intelligent discussion about the ever evolving music business. Notice that I used the word business. Too often, "classical" musicians have this fantasized vision of what we are doing. We are all trying to make a living performing music. In any profession, the most successful look at their occupation as business people and entrepreneurs. A lot of our current attitude is not our fault. We are trained as artists, not business people. Now, I am not offering any real solutions myself. But the longer I am in this business, the more I have learned how to rethink my general attitude towards being a professional trombonist.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Erwartung/Bluebeard reviews

Here is a review of COT's Erwartung/Duke Bluebeard's Castle double bill by Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein. It's a pretty favorable one.

"COT makes dark tales twice as compelling"


Andrew Patner, of the Chicago Sun-Times, also gave us a very glowing review.

"A thrilling bill of operatic tales from dark side"


Judy Collins

Tonight I will be performing with the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra. We will be backing up acclaimed folk-song artist, Judy Collins. For tickets and information, visit the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra website.


For more information on Judy Collins, you can visit her website.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Erwartung/Duke Bluebeard's Castle

Last night was opening night of Chicago Opera Theater's double bill of these two great one-act operas. We performed for a very enthusiastic and packed house. Most people are familiar with Samuel Ramey, who is famous for the role of Bluebeard. Of course, he sounds fantastic. But everyone needs to hear Krisztina Szabó as Judith and Nancy Gustafson's solo performance in Erwartung. I love both of these works. But, most of my friends and colleagues know how much I love Schoenberg. He was an excellent orchestrator who really understood how to write idiomatically for all of the orchestral instruments.

We have four more performances. I highly recommend coming out to see this very fine, unique production! You can get tickets thru the COT website.


If you need any more encouragement...check out Jim Palermo's top eight reason's for seeing these operas.


Also, another great resource for background on this production and all things COT is Brian Dickie's blog. Brian is the general director for Chicago Opera Theater.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sam Burtis/David Taylor Masterclass

Tom Matta, over at Depaul University, just sent this out this info about an upcoming masterclass. I strongly encourage all to attend. Thanks Tom!

Greetings all:
On Saturday, May 19, a very special event will take place at the DePaul School of Music, and I want to invite all interested trombonists to attend.
Trombonists Sam Burtis and David Taylor will be on campus to present a masterclass / workshop, and in addition, have time for perhaps one or two private lessons*** to interested folks.
This event is open to the public, free, and frankly, a “don’t miss” kind of event! Please spread the word to all your trombone playing friends, colleagues, and students.

These two extraordinarily talented musicians are in town at the Symphony Center on May 18 as part of a national tour of the Charles Mingus Epitaph - an 85th Birthday Anniversary Tribute conducted by Gunther Schuller. We are very fortunate to have these gentlemen visiting our campus the following day - a special treat indeed!

***If you are interested in a private lesson with either Mr. Burtis or Mr. Taylor, please get in touch with me ( tmatta1@depaul.edu ) as soon as possible, and I will put you in touch with either Sam / Dave and let you work out the details on price, etc.
“Sam and Dave Show”
with Sam Burtis, trombone; and David Taylor, bass trombone
Saturday, May 19, 2007
DePaul School of Music, Room #103
11:00am - 1:00pm
804 W. Belden
Chicago, IL 60614
Free admission!!
Bring your horns!!
Thomas Matta
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies
(773) 325-4389 office
For those of you living in a cave for the last 40 years, here is some info on the artists – links to their respective websites:



Thomas Matta
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies
DePaul University
School of Music
804 W. Belden, Room #326
Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 325-4389 – office
(773) 325-7263 – fax

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