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Faculty Friday with Matthew Recio

Time for another Faculty Friday! For first time readers, our Faculty Friday blog is a series of questions and responses meant to feature instructors from Luzerne Music Center in a unique light. Focusing not only on their professional career, we ask faculty questions that give students and readers a glimpse into their daily lives.

Returning to LMC this summer as our Senior Session composer in residence, Matthew Recio is the two-time winner of the NOTUS Composition Competition, a winner of the Cincinnati Camerata Competition, finalist in the YNYC Competition, and a finalist in the Morton Gould Awards and BMI Awards. As a musicianship and theory instructor for the camp, Matthew combines aural training, theory skills, relevant musicology lessons alongside contextual listening to prepare these performers for the next steps in their training. Matthew encourages all campers to try composing, insisting that you don't have to have any experience to sign up for lessons, just come open and willing to create some beautiful art!

Take some time to listen to his music at his website:

Tell us a little bit about your history with LMC: how did you get connected and how many summers have you been on faculty?

Last summer was my first LMC summer and it was incredible! I am thrilled to be returning this summer when I won't be the new face in camp and will be able to see old faces and welcome in brand new ones. I heard of LMC's reputation as a prestigious preparatory program and when I got to camp it exceeded my expectations. I applied as the composer in residence and theory instructor which are both of my passions and what I do as a doctoral candidate at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. Although the age group I work with at LMC is younger, the talent level is so high that I feel like I am working with my young collegiate students. I have projects and ideas for this summer that I am sure the students will be excited about. Can't wait for LMC summer 2019!

How did you first get interested in composition?

I started my compositional journey by improvising from a young age. When I would practice my standard repertoire I would always try to input my own variations on those pieces. I then began transcribing movie scores for fun when I was thirteen and fourteen. I remember the first score I listened to and transcribed was the Lord of the Rings soundtrack from the first movie. After transcribing a lot of pop songs and movie scores I was fortunate enough to have a strong music theory program in my high school where I was encouraged to create my own original works. The first original piece I wrote was for violin, flute, clarinet and saxophone. I was lucky enough to conduct and record this piece in high school with some friends. From then on, I was hooked to composition. I loved the collaborating process and was fueled by that rush you get when hearing a piece of your very own for the first time.

Why do you think it’s important to study new music even at a young age?

I love music of the past whether it is Couperin, Bach, Brahms, Ravel or Stravinsky. However, creating something brand new was my chance to put my very own original ideas into a work. Music is a living art and the way we can keep it relevant and meaningful is to create music with the artists of today. As a performer, collaborating with living composers allowed me a chance to not only create something authentic but be a part of the compositional process. There is a flexibility with new music, which allows the works to have life and breath that older works do not get the chance to have because of standardized performance practice. It is especially important for young performers to work on new music because it allows them freedom and a chance to explore their technique in a way that is collaboratively immersive. We should be creating art for the present that is relevant for today's world and starting new music at a young age to begin that cycle. This is the only way we can progress what art means for us as a society.

What did you think about living in the Adirondacks?

How often do we get to be consumed by our art, while being surrounded by the beauty of nature. In the Adirondacks, the stars are clearer, the air is fresher and there is no better inspiration than being surrounded by talented artists in such a scenic place. I loved living on the grounds and being able to go on a run around the lake and follow that up by creating music. I was so inspired by the beauty of the woods. You get to see all sorts of animals and appreciate being disconnected from technology. I was truly able to focus on my art and making music with incredible people.

What’s one piece of advice that you wish someone had told you as a young composer?

As a young composer I wish someone told me to listen to EVERYTHING. I have a wide pallet for different types of music and genres. However, it is natural to get hooked to one area or genre and forget to broaden our horizons. As I got older I would try to consume as many types of music as possible so I could add that into my own works. But how much better of a composer would I be now had I expanded my pallet at a very young age. I also wish I asked my parents to go to more live concerts. When you see professionals perform and create you really learn what it is to be an artist. As a young composer I would have grown much more quickly had I seen more live performances.

What’s your favorite part about working at LMC?

My favorite part about LMC is that I get to teach young musicians skills that will last them a lifetime. I love being able to share the parts of music that make me feel inspired and giving that gift to young musicians is powerful. Because of the setting, I get to know these talented people in a way I wouldn't in a traditional classroom. Having students perform my music and invest themselves in my work is so humbling. There truly is no place like LMC where we are so focused on our craft in a beautiful part of upstate New York. I have made great friends and life long connections because of LMC.

Finally, if you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?

I would absolutely want to be Mystique from X-Men, being able to change into any form and look like anything I want seems like such a cool power. I know she is a villain but that is such a cool superpower....

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