Arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Middleboro, Massachusetts, who started playing trombone when he was nine years old and graduated to the bass trombone at twelve.
He might have been a football player, but when he broke his collar bone and fractured his left arm, he decided that the musical life was for him.
Instead of accepting a scholarship to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he enrolled in Boston University as a music major and Russian language minor. His time at B.U. allowed him to work with Empire Brass and become a member of the Epic Brass Quintet.
He transferred to the New England Conservatory, where he studied under Norman Bolter and Douglas Yeo, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986. In 1988, he graduated from NEC with his Master’s of Music degree, won the Donald Yaxley Scholarship, and continued his studies at Tanglewood. He also studied at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute.
His early professional experience included stints with the Boston Ballet, Boston Pops, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera Company of Boston. He appears on the BSO’s 1988 album, R. Strauss: Elektra.
On 20th April 1989, he performed Vivian Fine’s “Discourse of Goatherds” at Northeastern University as part of Vivian Fine Appreciation Week.
He landed a full-time job with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and that led to work with the San Francisco Symphony. Stage and screen were not far off for Matthew, who went on tour with a Broadway touring company production of Les Miserables in the Northwestern United States. In 1990, he appeared on the soundtrack of Predator 2, which was recorded at Skywalker Ranch.
He aced an audition for the National Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich hired him as their bass trombonist in 1991. Other groups with whom he has performed comprise the Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Chamber Musicians, The Guarneri String Quartet, the Harvard University Band, the Krakow Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Army Orchestra, and the Washington Trombone Ensemble.
In 1993, he began teaching at the University of Maryland in College Park. He has also taught at Bethel College, the Catholic University of America, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, the National Orchestral Institute, the International Trombone Festival, and the Manhattan School of Music.
He appeared on a handful of CDs in the 1990s, including Dmitri Shostakovich/Mstislav Rostropovich: Complete Symphonies, Glennie/Schwantner/Slatkin/Jordan, Of Rage and Remembrance, and Sing Noel!!. Of Rage and Remembrance won a Grammy award in 1997 in the category of Best Classical Album.
On 15th and 16th November 1998, the Chicago Chamber Musicians interpreted Giovanni Gabrieli’s “Canzon in Double Echo a12” from his Sacrae Symphoniae and “Sonata pian’ e forte”. It barely interrupted his recording career.
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, he appeared on Ancient Airs for Brass & Organ, Christmas with the Master Chorale of Washington, Melodious Accord, Michael Kamen: The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms, Piano Grand! A Smithsonian Celebration, Slatkin/Prokofiev: 6th Symphony and Music From A Love for Three Oranges, and Stabat Mater.
He started his own business in 2004, the National Music Management Agency, which contracts musicians in the nation’s capital and beyond. Groups who have used his services include The Choral Arts Society of Washington, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Master Chorale of Washington, NASA, The Smithsonian, The Washington Chorus, and Washington National Cathedral.
Whilst NMMA was getting off the ground, so was a brass trio with the catchy name, Tres Bone. Matthew also started this enterprise, along with co-founders, Christopher Dudley and Ken Wolff. They made their debut on 19th February 2006, at one of Matthew’s faculty recitals at U of M-College Park. Around this time, they were also working on their debut album, Bach and Forth. On 17th March 2006, they appeared at Loboda Studio at Fort Myer, Virginia, in a program of Johann Sebastian Bach’s My Spirit Be Joyful, BWV 146 (arranged by Matthew), “Prelude IX” from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, “Trio from Sonata No. 2, BWV 1015” and “Trio Sonata”, the world premiere of Joseph Lawson’s “Snap Crackle Pop”, Mark O’Connor’s “Appalachia Waltz”, and Raymond Premru’s “Two Pieces for Three Trombones”.
Matthew was back at Loboda Studio for a performance of Tommy Pederson’s “Blue Topaz” at the Eastern Trombone Workshop on 15th March 2008.
On 29th March 2009, he and trombonists Barry Hearn and Craig Mulcahy and tuba player Stephen Dumaine gave demonstrations and master classes at Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, as part of the NSO’s Arkansas Residency.
The Washington Trombone Ensemble appeared at St. John’s Episcopal Church on 15th November 2009 in a recital that included Bach’s “Passacaglia in C minor”, Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria (Angelicus Domini)”, Norman Bolter’s “Fanfare to the Rising Phoenix” and “Peri-dots”, the second movement from Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3”, Rob Deemer’s “Prolegomenon”, “Langsam” from Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2”, a reprise of Tommy Pederson’s “Blue Topaz” (with Matthew as soloist), and the prelude to Act III of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin.
In 2010, Matthew was an adjudicator at the ITA’s George Roberts Bass Trombone Competition.
The Washington Trombone Ensemble premiered James M. Stephenson’s “The Road Not Taken” at the Eastern Trombone Workshop on 20th March 2010.
On 1st October 2010, Albany Records released Brass Trios, featuring Matthew with French horn player Gregory Miller and trumpeter Chris Gekker interpreting works by Lauren Bernofsky, Eric Ewazen, Alan Hovhaness, Vaclav Nelhybel, Anthony Plog, and David Sampson.
Matthew participated in the sixth annual BrassWorks at the University of Puget Sound on 23rd October 2010. The very full Saturday included equipment displays, workshops, and a concert by Brass Ensemble, John Falskow, Matthew, Gerald Morris, Puget Brass, Judson Scott, Wind Ensemble, and Wind Ensemble Brass. The last week of October included a concert entitled “A Year with Frog and Toad” at Tacoma Musical Playhouse and the University of Puget Sound Schneebeck Concert Hall.
On 13th February 2011, Matthew and pianist Sophia Kim Cook and trombonist Craig Mulcahy appeared in concert with the University of Maryland Trombone Choir at Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Their program included: Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria”; Derek Bourgeois’s “Scherzo Funebre, Op. 86”; Charles Small Craig’s “Conversation”; Edvard Grieg’s “Landkjending, Op. 31”; James Kazik’s “The Hex Files” and “Mini Overture”; Richard Peaslee’s “The Arrows of Time”; and, Henri Tomasi’s “etre ou ne pas etre (monologue d’Hamlet)”.
Then he had to hot-foot it to the Bluegrass State for the NSO’s Kentucky Residency. The tour included stops in Florence, Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, Paducah and Somerset for performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60”, Aaron Copland’s suite from Appalachian Spring, Michael Daugherty’s “Route 66”, and selections from Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe.
On 28th February 2011, the Washington Trombone Ensemble reprised James Stephenson’s “The Road Not Taken” at Capitol Hill United Methodist in Washington, D.C. They immortalized it on CD in March 2011.
In 2015 he toured of Texas as a guest artist and soloist at his annual UTA Trombone Day.
Paul Hill Chorale recordings
O Come All Ye Faithful (Frederick Oakeley/John Francis Wade)
Arranger – Jackson Berkey
Conductor – Paul Hill
Organist – Sondra Proctor
National Capital Brass and Percussion Ensemble