Composer and saxophonist Matthew Evan Taylor (1980) has been hailed as “a promising new voice” (Lawrence Budmen, Miami Herald) and a “risk taker” (Neil De La Flor, Huffington Post) whose music is “insistent and defiant…envelopingly hypnotic” (Alan Young, Lucid Culture).
A southern kid who worshipped at the altar of Cannonball Adderly, Ornette Coleman, Carla Bley and Charles Mingus, Matthew’s music has been performed across the United States and Europe by such ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Metropolis Ensemble, the Imani Winds, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. As a performer, Matthew has worked with musicians Elliott Sharp, Marilyn Crispell, Tatsuya Nakatani, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson; visual artists Will Kasso Condry, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Dannielle Tegeder; and dancers Katherine Kramer, Sara Shelton, Laurel Jenkins, and Lida Winfield.
Matthew has developed a dedicated following for his #project39 series on Instagram and Facebook. In December 2019, on his 39th birthday, Matthew pledged to improvise for at least 39 seconds for a year. This series has yielded the album Say Their Names, seven improvised reactions to the events of May 29 – June 5, the early days of the renewed Black Lives Matters protests. Self-released on Bandcamp on June 6th, the proceeds have gone directly to such racial justice organizations as Black Lives Matter Global Organization and the Equal Justice Initiative.
Matthew has also partnered with the Metropolis Ensemble and New Amsterdam Records to release his epic The Unheard Mixtapes. Another product of #project39, this 5-EP series represents a journey inward and Matthew’s struggle to cope with isolation in a time when it was never more important to join in solidarity with people. The first installment, The Unheard Mixtape 1: Follow to the End was released September 29, 2020, with each installment thereafter released monthly. All albums will be on Bandcamp, courtesy of New Amsterdam Records.
Matthew is currently based in Vermont. He is Assistant Professor of Music at Middlebury College.
Monteverdi Music School is graced with the addition of two new faculty members! Please join us in welcoming Erin Eberhardt and Jesse Metzler! We're very excited to round out our brass and percussion departments with these highly qualified and talented instructors!
Erin teaches horn, percussion, and piano, and also specializes in working with kids with special needs. You will find Erin's bio linked here.
Jesse Metzler teaches trombone and low brass. You can find Jesse's bio here.
Dear Friends of Monteverdi,
Wow - what a challenging year 2020 has been for us all! COVID-19 has hit the performing arts world hard! That's especially so for arts and music education organizations like Monteverdi which depend on people gathering together in small studio classes for practices and performances. While our faculty and students have persevered with virtual lessons and recitals, the impact to our budget has been severe, since a great deal of our revenue depends on teachers renting space in our building. We are thankful to teachers who have maintained their memberships with Monteverdi, and some who have continued to pay rent even while they cannot use the building for lessons.
The stay-at-home order in March was a shock to all of us, and for Monteverdi teachers, a sudden shove onto the learning curve of how to teach via Zoom or FaceTime or other online platforms. The faculty came together to share technical knowledge and we started to get back on our feet in the late
spring, though only in a virtual way.
Lisa Carlson, who has taken on the role of programming consultant, put together our faculty recital in a virtual format in May. The program was a lovely and diverse collection of performances by our highly professional teaching faculty. She also organized online student recitals starting in May, which have continued this fall. A holiday themed recital (virtual) is planned for a local assisted living facility. Lisa has also led the way in upgrading our website and starting a blog, with entries
from Ron Thompson, Erik Nielsen and others. Check them out if you haven’t seen them. With these upgrades, Lisa started a campaign to reconceive our logo, including a community competition; work to develop design concepts is ongoing.
Financially, Monteverdi has survived thus far, with the help of a small Economic Recovery Grant from the State of Vermont. We have applied for additional recovery grant funds and have cut back expenses wherever possible. Donations from our supporters, however, are urgently needed to ensure that we can make it through this pandemic.
With your financial gift now, we can continue our efforts to keep music education, faculty and student connections and virtual performance opportunities moving forward, while we plan for the days, hopefully in 2021, when we can once again teach in person and enjoy live performances.
We are so grateful for your support. May you find peace, calm and connection in new and different ways this holiday season.
President, MMS Board of Directors
A quick update on our logo process. We're still in communication about our new logo, but are officially on the "slow track" to ensure faculty and community engagement in a new logo that fully reflects our community.
And again - many thanks to all who have contributed to the process over the summer. Your ideas and proposals are so appreciated, and have gotten us on solid footing for defining our next steps.
Please stay tuned!
The winner of the new logo design entries in Monteverdi Music School's "New Image for Monteverdi" campaign was Birtu Lindert-Boyes of Marshfield, Vermont!
The staff and board of Monteverdi Music School found Birtu's design to be inspiring and energizing, and will be part of our thinking as we take next steps to confirm a final decision on our new logo. Here's Birtu's design:
There are many things we loved about the design that helped us move beyond the limited thoughts we had previously considered. We loved the use of the "o" for the favicon - something none of us had previously considered. We universally felt that Birtu's design gave us a reference point to consider in our next steps.
As first place winner, Birtu was given the choice between a gift certificate to Guitar Sam, Vermont Violins, or Buch Spieler Records. She has chosen Guitar Sam.
Our next step will be to consult with a professional design artist, and we are grateful for the design Birtu shared and the discussions it has sparked in refining our thoughts of what our logo will be! Stay tuned for updates!
Submitted by Erik Nielsen
At their best, the arts can be not just a reflection of their times, but can also provide an emotional call to action. This is certainly true for music, in many ways the most abstract of all the arts. For the truth of this, one need only look at the songs that helped spur many social movements over the past several centuries to realize that they owe as much to the melody as to the words for their broad appeal. This is again such a time, when in the United States in particular, many of us have been stirred to action following the latest in a long line of deaths of unarmed Black and Brown citizens at the hands of police. A great example of powerful art that speaks to its time is the work for male chorus and orchestra, The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson, an African-American composer based in Atlanta. The work was premiered by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and the Sphinx Ensemble in 2015, five years before the latest murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and others. This is the ensemble featured in this video. Sphinx is an organization that promotes the training of African-American and Latinx classical musicians. It is my view as a member of the Monteverdi faculty that we need to promote and support musicians of color in our community. In addition, if we can collaborate with and support organizations like Sphinx we will be working toward the important goal of making concert music and our society more inclusive and equitable.
Erik Nielsen teaches music theory and composition at Monteverdi Music School . Check his full bio here.
We now have a frontrunner among potential logo submissions! AND we're in our final week of accepting submissions. We're hoping to assess our options at the end of THIS WEEK and choose a path forward from there.
We will continue to assess options that come in this week, but we're excited about the ideas presented in this submission from Birtu Lindert-Boyes:
And if you've already submitted one design, you may submit another! Each entry will be entered into our drawing for prizes from Vermont Violins, Buch Spieler and Guitar Sam.
We will not necessarily use a submitted design for our final logo choice, but we will enjoy every entry and potentially incorporate ideas into our final design. Thanks in advance for joining our logo design team!
Please see guidelines for entries, and options of prizes, here. Deadline July 31.
Announcing prizes in our "New Image for Monteverdi Music School Campaign!
Submit a logo design that meets the criteria listed in the blog post linked here - or on this entry at the bottom of the page, and you may win a $25 gift certificates to one of our friends linked above! And please support the businesses that support Monteverdi!
Please submit designs by July 31 - or let us know that it's on the way at that time. We may or may not continue to accept designs after that point. And spread the word to everyone you know!
All submissions will be appreciated! The one or two that most represent our ideal, as determined by the Monteverdi Board of Directors and Faculty Members, will win your choice of a gift certificate to Vermont Violins, Guitar Sam, or Buch Spieler Records! Other entries will be entered into a drawing for the remaining gift certificates. ALL entries will be counted!
Please submit designs to firstname.lastname@example.org (this is not a live link - please paste in your browser!)
Here's a reminder of what we're looking for:
Here's what we're looking for in our new logo:
I compose as a contribution to community. My aim is to bring people together through music. I work hard to communicate as directly as possible with listeners. I want to move people emotionally through the sound structures I create. My hope is that by telling a musical story, my work will strike a responsive chord in listeners who approach art with an open and attentive mind and heart.
I also view helping others to compose as part of my mission. I am passionate in my belief that anyone who wants to create music can do so and I've spent many years seeing the truth of that statement borne out with students of all ages.
Composer Erik Nielsen has created works for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, solo instruments, chamber music, works for dance, film and electronic music. His pieces have been performed all over the world by ensembles including A Far Cry, the Amabile, Chiara, Emerson and Ying String Quartets; the National Symphony Orchestra; the Killington and Manchester Chamber Players; Bread and Puppet Theater; the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble; Vermont Opera Theater, Vermont Symphony; Vermont Youth Orchestra and Village and Northern Harmony. He has won awards from ASCAP, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Vermont Music Teachers Association. In September 2015, his opera, A Fleeting Animal, a collaboration with poet/playwright David Budbill that premiered in 2000, was performed in a newly revised edition to great acclaim in six locations in Vermont.
Above - the cast of "A Fleeting Animal" takes a bow
Recent commissions include a film score for the 2019 Green Mountain Film Festival (premiered March 23, 2019 by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra and funded in part by a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council); a new work for chorus and brass or organ, All This Night Shrill Chanticleer, a commission from the Vermont professional chorus Counterpoint, premiered in December, 2018; a new work for the Northern Third Quartet, premiered in October, 2018 (funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation); A Voice in the Night, a four-movement work for bassoon and piano (funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council); Fanfare in B Flat, commissioned by the Vermont Symphony for their 80th anniversary; and Glimpses of Azure, commissioned by the Boston string orchestra, A Far Cry.
The Falling of Trees
Above is a complete performance of Erik's 2007 composition for piano quartet and baritone with poems by Erik's late brother, Lars Nielsen. The piece was originally created as a tribute to older brother, Karl Nielsen, who died in 1998 of brain cancer. This performance, by the Northern Third Quartet and baritone Thomas Beard, took place May 26, 2019 at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, Vermont at a special event honoring Lars' work as a writer. And a special thank-you goes to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, for his wonderful work as videographer!
Mr. Nielsen is Senior Composition Mentor with Music-COMP (formerly the Vermont MIDI Project). He also teaches music theory and composition with the Green Mountain Suzuki Institute, the Monteverdi School and privately, as well as music appreciation classes at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center. He was elected a Fellow by the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. Mr. Nielsen lives in Brookfield, Vermont.
A Psalm for a New Year
Above: a composition for SATB chorus and solo viola, with words by Erik's late brother, Lars Nielsen. The text is the final work he wrote before becoming ill from brain cancer in September, 2017. Erik wrote the music just after Lars died in June, 2018. This is the premiere performance, featuring the chamber chorus Les Voix de Mai, directed by Jessica Pierpont, with Elizabeth Reid playing viola. It took place at a special event honoring Lars' writing at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, Vermont on May 26, 2019. And a special thank-you again to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz.
This is a performance by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra of my score to the final two acts of Lotte Reiniger's 1926 silent film classic, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed". The performance took place as part of the concert "New Music at the Movies" that took place on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont. Anne Decker, the Music Director of the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, conducted. The project was a collaboration among the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, the Green Mountain Film Festival and Music-COMP (an online music composition resource for students).
Erik Nielsen teaches composition at Monteverdi Music School and is actively teaching composition lessons and music theory during the COVID pandemic. You'll find more information about Erik at https://www.eriknielsenmusic.com/.
Ten Thousand Hours
My parents took me to Bill when I was nine, after I had played for a year in
the Theodore Judah Elementary School band class. Bill was a magician on the
instrument. His good friend (and partner in a Mexican tequila venture) was Raphael
Mendez the world-acclaimed trumpet virtuoso. He and Raphael would challenge
each other to see who could play an excerpt faster. In my lessons with Bill it could be
said that he blew me away, literally, with his trumpet virtuosity. Week after week he
sat next to me and showed me precisely how to achieve my own virtuosity in the
general areas of technique, musicality, and intonation. And he repeatedly told me in
no uncertain terms that I would have to practice a lot to gain mastery.
The volume would undergo a steady slow decrescendo until our tones would
disappear into the realm of shadow tone. During “Longtones” I was required to
produce the exact same pitch as Bill’s, I mean the EXACT frequency of Bill’s tone, so
that the two tones sounded precisely like one trumpet was in the room. I learned
that precise intonation required a matching of tonal timbre, volume and pitch. Years
later, when I was put to the test as Second Chair Trumpet in the National Symphony,
the intonation refinements Bill taught resulted in the only compliment that I ever
heard Principal Chair Trumpet Lloyd Geisler utter: “Ron has never played an out-of-
tune note”. Lloyd and I played over 700 concerts together.
After “Longtones” came “Schlossberg Slurs”, exercises in which the overtones
(think bugle calls) of the instrument are connected without any break. There are
three ways by which to execute bugle calls on a trumpet. They are to change
embouchure (lip) aperture size, air speed and/or lip tension. If slurs are executed
correctly the tonal changes are lightning fast and both tones have the same timbre.
Bill was a master. All I had to do was listen carefully as he demonstrated. There was
no rush. I listened to Bill for seven years. I found out later that Max Schlossberg was
the teacher of my Juilliard teacher Bill Vacchiano, and was responsible for Vacchiano
being hired into the New York Philharmonic. Unknown to me at the time, Bill’s
musicianship. Bill’s musical heritage came from the concert band and
cornet solo traditions. He polished my technique using cornet solos and cornet
method books. I had to wait for Juilliard training to learn orchestral style and tonal
In addition to weekly trumpet lessons, Bill Peron brought me into the
Sacramento Symphony when I was 14, to perform beside him. On our first concert
we performed Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and Debussy’s Fetes. The
precision and emotional richness of the music were overwhelming. I was hooked.
During my trumpet lessons with Bill Peron time both stood still and
disappeared in a flash. The doorbell announcing Bill’s next student came way too
soon. At my first Juilliard lesson, Vacchiano asked me who had taught me to play. He
didn’t know of Bill Peron. He simply said: ”He did a good job.”
Seven hours each summer day, in the sweltering Sacramento heat, with the
puddle of sweat under my chair, and the pendulum of the metronome swinging
faster and faster, I inched forward. A small price to pay for social and self identities,
both enhanced by fun musical friendships, a string of first chair successes, and
virtuoso solo performances in both concert bands and jazz bands. And all being
enabled by a profound connection to and passion for music performance,
specifically trumpet performance.
And then there was the Toscanini NBC Symphony recording of Respighi’s
Pines of Rome. Little did I know as a 15 year old teary-eyed kid listening to my
Motorola, that in two years I would be learning trumpet artistry from two members
of Toscanini’s New York Philharmonic trumpet section, William Vacchiano and
Nathan Preger. And in four years I would be performing that same music of
Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Respighi as Second Chair Trumpet in Constitution Hall
with the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.
Ron Thompson teaches trumpet lessons at Monteverdi Music School. During the pandemic, he is actively teaching online during the pandemic. Ron is also a practicing psychologist specializing in performance anxiety. His book, On Cue: Managing Anxiety, Inviting Excellence is published by Ron at Masterful Life Performance Press. You can read his bio here. And please do click the audio file near the top of the page, below the photo, for a lovely audio recording of Ron performing the Posthorn Solo from Third Symphony by Gustav Mahler.
Monteverdi Music School has been a center for music lessons and music activity in Central Vermont for 26 years, and now establishing its outreach to the online community!