Nathan R. Matthews, Associate Professor of Music Theatre, has a career that has taken him across North America as a music director, conductor, composer, vocal coach, pianist and educator.
Matthews is the composer of the music theatre work, The Count of Monte Cristo, which he wrote with librettist, Stephen Pickover, a Metropolitan Opera stage director. He is a contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies, which includes his chapter, “Orchestrators in their own words: the sound of Sondheim in the 21st century.” Matthews conceived, orchestrated, arranged and music directed the new music theatre work, It Goes Like It Goes, The Music of David Shire, in collaboration with the composer.
His former students include two Tony Award winning Broadway producers and a Theatre World Award winning and Outer Critics Circle Award nominated actress. His students have credits on Broadway (AMERICAN IDIOT, AVENUE Q, BLITHE SPIRIT, CANDIDE, CHICAGO, CLYBOURNE PARK, THE COLOR PURPLE, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, 42ND STREET, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, HAIR, IMPRESSIONISM, LENNON, NEWSIES, PERTER AND THE STARCATCHER, PIPPIN, RENT, SLAVA’S SNOW SHOW, SPIDERMAN, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, VANYA AND SONYA AND MASHA AND SPIKE); Off-Broadway (BLUE MAN GROUP, CLINTON, DE LA GUARDA, MY BIG GAY ITALIAN FUNERAL, MY BIG GAY ITALIAN WEDDING, PERFECT CRIME, SEUSSICAL, SHOUT!, SILENCE!); on national tours (BILLY ELLIOTT, CANDIDE, CATS, A CHORUS LINE, CINDERELLA, 42ND STREET, GREASE, GYPSY, HAIRSPRAY, JERSEY BOYS, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE LION KING, MAMMA MIA, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, RAGTIME, RENT, ROCK OF AGES, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, TITANIC, WICKED); and at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
Matthews was Music Associate on Broadway for Children and Art, the Stephen Sondheim 75th Birthday gala, presented by The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton and Barbara Streisand, directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. and music directed by Kevin Stites. The experience led to an invitation from the University of London – Goldsmiths College to speak at their international conference on Stephen Sondheim and the publication of an article in the internationally acclaimed journal, The Sondheim Review. Matthews was Mark Hamill’s keyboard coach for the original Broadway production of Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall. He has served on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera for productions directed by Peter Wood. He has served on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera for productions directed by Peter Wood and Bliss Hebert and conducted by Raymond Leppard and John Crosby. Matthews spent several seasons touring North America for Columbia Artists and Karlsrud Concerts appearing as a solo and as a collaborative pianist. Off-Broadway he was music director for a revival of They’re Playing Our Song. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Amas Musical Theatre in NYC.
A founding director and the Producing Artistic Director of the Riverside Opera Ensemble in New York City, Matthews’s credits with the company include producing and conducting the New York premiere of Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo, a benefit for God’s Love We Deliver, with Leonard Bernstein serving as honorary chair. He produced the company’s concert honoring Ned Rorem’s 75th Birthday at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Matthews has presented two concerts at Merkin Concert Hall featuring Pulitzer Prize winning composer, David Del Tredici, who played world premiere performances of his own compositions. Matthews produced and conducted the company’s world premiere benefit performance of the new American opera, Incident at San Bajo, composed by Patrick Byers, with Rosemary Harris and John Ehle serving as honorary chairs. In conjunction with the University of Southern California and NYU, Matthews produced and music directed the company’s initial reading of the new musical Con Man, by Joseph and Benjamin Boone at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Additionally, he produced and music directed a benefit concert with Mystery Writers of America starring John Astin for the Edgar Allan Poe Awards. With Metropolitan Opera director, Stephen Pickover, he co-created Where or When…, a music theatre work using the music of Rodgers and Hart, which Matthews produced on Theatre Row in NYC. His music directing and conducting credits with the company also include the world premiere production of Richard Pearson Thomas’s Parallel Lives and new productions of Zaza; Werther; The Rape of Lucretia; Iolanta; Hansel and Gretel; Oh! Boy; Man With a Load of Mischief; and The Threepenny Opera, all in NYC.
Matthews’s career has also included working on productions and concerts with many other notable artists including, Harolyn Blackwell, Ann Blyth, Keith Buterbaugh, Dixie Carter, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Harvey Evans, Richard Fredricks, Malcom Gets, Noel Harrison, Mariette Hartley, Anne Hathaway, Stefania de Kennessey, Daniel Pelzig, Stephen Pickover, Mikell Pinkney Jane Powell, and Kevin Stites. He has also conducted new productions with orchestra of My Favorite Year directed by Evan Pappas in New York City; Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Artpark (NY); The Amorous Flea at Riverside Theatre (FL); Oliver!, Call Me Madam, and Camelot at the Virginia Musical Theatre where he is a staff music director; and Evita, The Sound of Music, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Man of la Mancha, Oklahoma!, The Boyfriend, Camelot, The Music Man, and The Fantasticks at Struthers Library Theatre (PA).
Matthews was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Florida where he music directed College of Fine Arts productions and university-wide special events. He served on the musical theatre faculty at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and was an Artist/Teacher for Arts4All, Ltd. in NYC. Matthews holds a Master of Music in Vocal Accompanying and Coaching from the University of Illinois where he studied with John Wustman and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In May 2006, Theatre Journal published his performance review of musicals at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival. His essay on the collaboration between music director and director was published in Robert Knopf’s book, The Director as Collaborator. As an invited panelist for a seminar on diversity in the musical theatre at the Association of Theatre in Higher Education’s 2006 national conference in Chicago, Matthews delivered a paper on Rosetta LeNoire and the Amas Musical Theatre.
Regarding Matthews’s composition, Anthony Tommasini wrote in the New York Times, “…it was impossible to resist the soprano Harolyn Blackwell’s deeply expressive account of “A Woman’s Plight“, a setting of some Edgar Allen Poe poems by an artistic director of the Riverside Opera Ensemble, Nathan R. Matthews.”