Native Chicagoan Matthew Way returned to Juilliard in October, eight years after receiving his double bass master’s and 11 years after his bachelor’s. He’d started playing bass in middle school, and when he was 16, began studying with Erik Harris (B.M. ’86, M.M. ’87, double bass). At Juilliard, he studied with Homer Mensch and Timothy Cobb. Matthew’s transition from performance to administration began three years ago as the development and marketing intern at the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. From there, he spent the next two years fund-raising for the American Composers Orchestra. At Juilliard, he writes reports and proposals, works with potential and current donors, and does a lot of research. In his spare time, he and his wife Ana hang out in Brooklyn with their cat, Chloe.
How was the transition from student to employee?
Transition? I wouldn’t call it much of a transition. It was natural returning to a familiar community that I’m fond of. A few things are very different: the facade (no plaza), no chili bar at Balducci’s (now Gourmet Garage), no Barnes and Noble. Some wonderful additions are the Kaufman Dance Studio, the fifth-floor rehearsal space, and that awkwardly angled grassy knoll across the street. When do they let people walk on it?
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day?
Only one day? How about one month? Or at least a week? I wouldn’t want a job for a day. It isn’t enough time to accomplish anything, but if I had to choose—it would be the president’s. I can’t think of a better way to raise money for the School.
What is the most memorable job you’ve ever had?
A really fun gig for me was working as an extra on films and TV shows. Law and Order always needed perps! Anyhow, one day my booking agent got me on the film Anger Management, starring my favorite S.N.L. comedian Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. I was booked for the final scene at the old Yankee Stadium and met Adam. He autographed the ‘#1 hand-sign’ prop I was given. I don’t know what happened to that sign, but I’ll never forget meeting Adam—and witnessing Woody Harrelson’s cameo as Security Guard Gary.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do?
Call my wife immediately to grab lunch with her. If she wasn’t available, I’d head to Sheep’s Meadow to people watch. If the weather was lousy, I’d buy a movie ticket from Student Affairs and see whatever has been out for at least two weeks.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
I’ve been on an artistic hiatus for about two years. With that said, this semester I enrolled in the Evening Division course Intro to Music Technology. Each week we take one step deeper into the exciting world of music production using Logic, the most addictive software on the planet. The instructor, Taylor Hollyer (B.M. ’08, M.M. ’11, double bass), is great.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I'm the executive director of Doublestop Foundation, which gives talented musicians a competitive edge in classical music by supplying them with no-cost loans of rare high quality string instruments, and a network of resources and mentors to guide them through their professional development. Our m.o. is if music is the weapon of the future then Doublestop is instrumentally arming musicians for the battle of their lives.
Doublestop hosts the annual Artist in You Instrument Loan Competition. This fall finalists will compete for a Raffaele Gagliano violin (1854), Giovanni Pistucci violin (1890), Terry Borman viola (1993), and a Kolstein Carcassi Model bass (2000). Please visit doublestopfoundation.org to read the competition guidelines and apply.
What was your favorite vacation?
Galapagos! I particularly loved the lightly inhabited island of Isabela (2,500 people in peak season)—hiking volcanos, swimming in a lagoon with sea lions, and watching the gorgeous sunsets. Imagine going to a zoo without borders; it’s easily the most beautiful atmosphere in the world. I could not have been there with a better companion: my wife. If you enjoy National Geographic’s films then I highly recommend watching the one about Galapagos—it’s spot on.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I like my pizza how I like my house music: deep and from Chicago. I’m a classically trained musician, but people are often surprised to learn that I also DJ. I primarily spin house music, but also enjoy the down-tempo sounds of trip hop and nu disco and of course those relentless pulsating beats of techno. I’m also a big fan of Chicago’s sports teams; particularly the Cubs and da Bears. Bear down!
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
It has the best variety of international foods and neighborhoods. I can experience nearly every culture in the world without stepping foot onto an airplane. That’s pretty amazing.
What are you following?
Deeper Shades of House. For over 10 years, Lars Behrenroth has released this weekly podcast and kept listeners informed on playlists, background information about the music, producers and record labels, and the show’s featured guest DJs. And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, twitter @2waysworld, and SoundCloud.
I don’t believe it is possible to find inspiration from life if it only exists in the fourth-floor practice rooms. Try making an earnest effort to find your work-life balance, and it will influence you to discover the greatest artist that you can be.