Diana Martin tells us more about Matthew Taylor, the man behind Farnham Sinfonia
There really couldn’t be a better time to write an article on local composer and conductor Matthew Taylor, for the Oscar nominated Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro is due to show at Farnham Maltings in February…Matthew was one of Bernstein’s protégées!
Bernstein, who is known for composing one of the most successful musicals ever, West Side Story, had an inspired conducting style which led to his big break conducting the New York Philharmonic in 1943. He was one of the first American-born conductors to lead world-class orchestras and achieve success globally. Maestro tells the audience of Bernstein’s complex life, his musical fame and his marriage.
During his twenties Matthew was selected by Bernstein as one of three conductors to attend the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival – when young musicians from all over the world are given the opportunity to study and perform great works from the orchestral literature with famous conductors. During the summer Matthew continued to conduct concerts with Bernstein in Northern Germany. Matthew was a friend of Bernstein’s until his death in 1990. He recalls with amusement Bernstein’s ability to put young musicians at ease by reciting limericks, some of which were quite risqué.
Matthew felt a passion for music at a very young age when his father would play Beethoven to keep him amused rather than playing nursery rhymes. This led to his lifelong enthusiasm with music as he became both a conductor and composer. He says, ‘Beethoven has always been central to all my thought processes as a composer. I still find more life force in his work than in any living composer.’
Over the years, Matthew has appeared as Guest Conductor with many renowned orchestras both at home and abroad and which included many first performance pieces by Robert Simpson, Vagn Holmboe, David Matthews and James Francis Brown. Matthew has also held significant roles such as Artistic Directorships, Composer in Residence and Lecturer in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He currently works at the Yehudi Menuhin School, supporting the development of his students.
Matthew’s recent work includes his 6th Symphony which was commissioned by the family of Malcom Arnold for the composer’s centenary celebrations. Matthew has long been an advocate for Malcolm Arnold’s music. This work will be broadcast later this year with Matthew conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Having moved to Farnham in 2010, a town that he considered home to many artistic people, Matthew decided to form an orchestra and the Farnham Sinfonia was born. Over time, his vision became a reality, and the orchestra nurtures the next generation of musical talent by inviting young aspiring musicians to perform solo with a professional orchestra. This is a unique proposition for the students and graduates alike and underlines Matthew’s enthusiasm to promote young talent.
Sinfonia’s Outreach programme includes Matthew and Lead Violinist Elizabeth Cooney visiting local schools and colleges to fill the gaps in musical education. Matthew is keen to impart his musical abilities with the rising stars of the future as well as nurturing the orchestra to its full potential.
The next concert is on Saturday, 23 March at 7.30pm at St Andrew’s Farnham.
Mahler – (theme from Death in Venice)
Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 2 and Two Romances
Schumann – Fairytale (for Viola)
Hindemith – Trauermusik
Piazzolla – Spring
For further information on Farnham Sinfonia (CIO), please go to their website