Curtain Call: High school crush paved way for Don Matthews’ career – Mail Tribune

Don Matthews, as Don Quixote, prepares to tilt at windmills in Randall Theatre Company’s 2019 production of “Man of La Mancha. ” His companions are actors Jeff Mercer and Kelly Jean Hammond. RTC photo

Husband and wife Judith Rosen plus Don Matthews play Doris and George in a 2015 Randall Theatre manufacturing of “Same Time, Next Year. inch Photo by Bob Pennell

Don Matthews shares liner notes with listeners during his morning classical music show at Jefferson Public Radio. Photo by Angela Decker

Jefferson Public Radio’s classical music director Don Matthews has a pretty good idea what led to his career as a singer and radio deejay: the high school crush and a perceptive choir director.

When Matthews was a high college underclassman, he was cast in a play as the romantic lead, “probably because I was the tallest in addition to looked the particular part, ” he said.

“My leading lady asked if I could run the spotlight for the variety show she was in, ” he stated. “Since We had a new crush on her, I mentioned yes. ”

There he met typically the choir movie director who, after hearing him speak, requested Matthews in order to sing with regard to him. Even back then, his voice must have had a mellifluous quality.

“He got my schedule changed so I actually could be in the choir, and put me in a select group as well, ” Matthews said.

The following spring, this individual was forged as this male lead in his first musical, “Hello, Dolly! ” and won a scholarship to all-state choir in Interlochen, Michigan.

The Interlochen experience in age 15 was some sort of game-changer.

“Singing my first classical songs, including Bach and Brahms, made me want to perform for the rest of the life, ” he explained. “When My partner and i came home, I started taking tone of voice lessons. ”

Those lessons included learning to sing within Italian. And while still inside high institution, he sang his 1st classical solo, from Handel’s “Messiah. ”

Today, Matthews hosts a good classical audio morning show that’s been running on JPR since this individual took often the job throughout 1998, and even performs along with numerous choral groups together with Rogue Valley theater companies.

His interest in music led to two degrees — your BA around Music from Eastern The state of michigan University along with a Master’s on Vocal Performance from USC.

A college experience that still resonates with him was when his choral group toured England and additionally Ireland.

“We sang at the International Choral Festival during Cork, in the U. S. Embassy for Dublin, and then toured England for nearly five weeks, ” he or she said. “We lived mostly with local families not to mention got some real sense of your culture because of that will. ”

He sang various opera roles at USC and received a scholarship or grant to the exact Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where he met the noted French baritone, Martial Singher.

“He became my most important teacher, ” he claimed.

Matthews performed as a fabulous member from the San Francisco Opera chorus for three seasons before moving to Boston to study and also try to be able to launch his solo profession.

“I experienced some success, but wasn’t earning enough to make it our primary focus, ” they said.

“The only other thing of which really interested me was radio, so I enrolled through the Northeast Broadcasting School and landed a job from WBUR in Boston before I graduated. ”

This individual also worked for WGBH, where he produced for Robert Lurtsema, the celebrated host of a classical music display.

The Birkenstock boston radio stints gave your pet the experience he / she needed to land the JPR job.

Matthews was born as well as raised within suburban Detroit. His dad was a film and TV sound man and his uncles and cousins are all stagehands. Matthews did a little stagehand work himself as a young man inside Detroit.

He was a big fan of the Beatles and heard some associated with his initial classical instruments in the Fab Four’s later works, such as “Eleanor Rigby. ”

“When the particular Beatles broke up, I joined the Time/Life Record Club. Every some other month, My spouse and i received four LPs through different common music periods and got hooked. ”

Matthews do not give up his singing career whenever he moved to Ashland for you to spin with JPR. From the get-go, he or she was sought by Rogue Valley choral groups and theater businesses. Early in the career they were an important tenor, but now is a baritone. “My voice has gotten more bass over the years, ” your dog said.

Paul French, retired SOU professor and overseer of Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, attended USC at the same time Matthews performed.

“He invited me to join Rep Singers a few months after I arrived, ” he says. He continues as a core singer for that group.

“A couple years later on, I played Emile DeBeque in ‘South Pacific’ regarding the Fake Music Theatre (in Grants Pass), and that fall I was in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ for Actor’s Theater. ”

He has been the guest soloist with Dodgy Valley Chorale and Siskiyou Singers, and has performed for several Rogue Area theater firms, including Camelot Theatre, Randall Theatre, Ashland Contemporary Theater and Collaborative Theatre Project.

His most memorable roles are Henry in “The Lion throughout Winter, ” Sweeney around “Sweeney Todd” and their favorite, Put on Quixote inside “Man regarding La Mancha. ”

He or she has a particular fondness intended for “Same Time, Next Year, ” found in which the guy starred with his wife, Judith Rosen, on the Randall Theater in 2015.

The story is about George and Bateau, each married to other people, who have an affair on a small California Inn in 1951 and then decide to meet at the inn every year to get a romantic retreat. In the decades that follow, they develop a level involving love plus intimacy exceeding that of their marriages, in addition to face their own struggles.

“Performing together with Judith was such a new joy, ” he reported. “Being on stage using someone is all about trust, and I could not trust anyone more. ”

They age during the performance, requiring different looks and even several makeup changes. In one memorable scene, Doris shows up pregnant together with Matthews, as George, has to give her plenty connected with time to put on her baby bump back stage while he delivers a monologue on stage.

“The audience always loved it any time she appeared, ” the person said. “I was dressed in my personal robe, thinking we are going to help make love, and additionally the target audience sees the girl before I do. Then she goes into labor, not to mention I have to get help without revealing the fact that she is not my own wife.

“The conflict I just faced with caring pertaining to this woman but not wanting to admit I knew her has been an interesting challenge as an actor, ” he said.

Matthew is on his element at JPR, employment this individual finds has evolved over time. Whenever he very first started, he or she mostly performed music by the composers he had learned about growing up and also in university.

“Since then, I have been able to share many lesser-known composers who were, perhaps, overshadowed from the a lot more famous ones, ” they said.

In the past several years, more works written by women and composers for color have been recorded. “And that offers been a joy to share with listeners, ” he / she said.

They stresses range in his mix, in both content and length, playing shorter pieces early in the morning if he believes many listeners are getting ready for their particular day or on their very own way to work.

As the classical music representative, he chooses all his / her own tunes.

“But I also want additional hosts to be able to choose their own music, ” he said, encouraging them to add selection to his or her mix so there’s something for everyone.

What’s next meant for Don Matthews?

“I will be performing with typically the Siskiyou Performers next year during a selection from ‘Sweeney Todd’ having Livia Genise, who has been Mrs. Lovett within the creation we would together, ” he talked about.

“Because about the pandemic, I haven’t auditioned very often, but I hope to in the next year. ”

With the impressive phase presence as well as rich, baritone voice, Matthews would be difficult to ignore at any audition.

Reach freelance writer Jim Flint during iimflint. [email protected] com.