The SFCM Newsroom sits down with voice faculty member Matt Worth and discusses winning a Grammy, his advice for young artists, and what he’s most excited for in the future of music.
By Mark Taylor
A Unique Start
Voice teacher Matt Worth didn’t start out intending to sing professionally -- and you might be surprised to learn his first love was actually jazz.
“I played the trombone pretty well through college,” Worth said.
However, singing was always a part of his life. He grew up singing in church in his hometown in the New England area. “My mom is a retired elementary school music teacher,” Worth continued. “We were always singing and dancing and making music fun in the house.”
In high school Worth participated in many musical theater productions (including playing Tony in “West Side Story”), but it wasn’t until college that he began to really embrace his love for singing when one of his professors told him to take voice lessons.
“It took all four years of undergrad to get it through my thick skull that maybe this was a potential career path,” Worth said. “Once I got that bee in my bonnet I really dug in and decided that I was going to attack this.”
A Storied Career
Worth switched to singing and continued his music education, and the rest is history, saying “I’ve been everywhere, I’ve got all the degrees and all the certificates and all the diplomas.” His career has taken him to heights including the Juilliard Opera Center, an apprenticeship with Glimmerglass Opera, the world premiere of David T. Little's “JFK” with the Fort Worth Opera, and making a Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in Brahms’ “A German Requiem” under conductor James DePriest.
Over his many performances it was during this time he discovered something new about himself. “Whenever I do bel canto opera, there are these long melismas where you’re sustaining vowels for a long time and what I realized is I am a huge drooler,” Worth said, laughing. “I would take off my costume and there would be this bib of drool, but it sounded great … I think it was the drool!”
Most recently, in March, he won a Grammy. The Recording Academy chose Worth and his creative partners for the prize of “Best Choral Performance” for their recording of Richard Danielpour’s dramatic oratorio “The Passion of Yeshua.” The honor came as a complete surprise, “I knew we were nominated, but I had completely forgotten!”
Advancing the Art
While he is proud of his accomplishments, teaching Voice at SFCM is now paramount to Worth. “I was so lucky to come up with teachers, coaches, and conductors who asked me the most important questions, and I want to continue that teaching,” Worth said.
Last year, Worth led a “Minute Master Class” that offers six tips to singers on how to tackle difficult phrases.
For the next generation of singers and musicians at SFCM, Worth’s advice is to find their voice and have confidence in everything they do. “The idea being that they can take the skills they have learned and be anything they want, from an artist, to a professor, to a contractor who just kills it at karaoke,” Worth continued. “This is part of our mission at SFCM to raise responsible citizens in this world.”
As for what’s next in music?
Worth is most excited for new works in opera that challenge the status quo.“We are at this amazing point in American opera history where we are actually producing works that are speaking on contemporary themes.” Worth looks forward to seeing what new concepts and subjects come to the performance stage especially from students right here at SFCM. “The students that we have now are interested in getting up and using their own unique voices to tell stories and I love that for them.”
Learn more about studying voice at SFCM.