We caught up with Matthew, clarinettist with Youth Orchestra Waikato, ahead of his debut solo with YOW in the Cambridge Autumn Festival

Catch Matthew in action on Sunday 23 March, 3.00pm at Cambridge Town Hall in 'Fire & Romance'

© Richard Lummus

Kia ora Matthew! Great to catch up ahead of your performance with us.
Tell us a little something about your musical journey so far...

My journey in music started when I was very young. My mother is a music teacher, and has had a significant contribution to that part of my life. I started learning the clarinet in year 4 at Hukanui Primary School. From then I just kept playing and enjoying what I was playing. My biggest achievement so far has been being selected as Principal Clarinet of the NZ Secondary Schools Orchestra, something I am really proud of.

Tell us about the concerto you're playing, why did you choose it?

Waipoua was written after the composer, Gareth Farr, took a trip to the Waipoua forest in Northland. I like to remember walking through this magical place when I play it. The beautiful climax of this piece is like laying your eyes on the awesome Tāne Mahuta, the tallest and oldest Kauri tree in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a powerful, wise and incredible thing.

Another great thing about this concerto is how it really gives me the ability to focus on the musicality and shaping of the piece. Waipoua isn’t as technically difficult as other famous concerti, and its lyricism gives me plenty of opportunities to really add my own interpretation instead of having my mind and fingers flying all over the place. Having said that, it still poses some significant challenges to me. Gareth Farr writes pretty high in the clarinet range, while also in a quiet dynamic range. Let’s just say a lot of practice has gone into those moments, as they are the most powerful moments in the piece!

What does it mean to you to be a part of Youth Orchestra Waikato?

Being a part of YOW is like being in a family to me. The ability to be friends with people you never would have, to spend so much time together and play such amazing music together is such a valuable thing to me. I get to not only work on my personal playing school, but also my leading, ensemble, and social skills.

We might be a little bias, but we think the Waikato is pretty awesome, what do you enjoy about living here?

There are heaps of things to love about living in Hamilton and the Waikato. I get so many different opportunities right at my doorstep. I can play in a pit orchestra of a musical, perform at the garden’s festival in a big band, play in Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, and many other opportunities through the University of Waikato I just couldn’t get elsewhere as a 16 year old musician.

When you're not on stage, what are you up to?

When I’m not onstage, I’m often rehearsing, practicing, or thinking about practicing for lots of different things. My other hobbies include reading, composing, spending time with family and friends or learning something about an obscure topic - currently New Zealand Sign Language!

Thanks Matthew, great to chat! All the best for your upcoming debut solo performance. 

Fire & Romance

You can catch Matthew in action on Sunday 23 March, 3.00pm at Cambridge Town Hall in 'Fire & Romance'. Mathew performs alongside YOW member and soloist Kezia Schuitemaker (violin)


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