Aucoin has taken a new position as Artist-in-Residence with the L.A. Opera. (Photos courtesy of John Andrews/Peabody Essex Museum)
By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
In the eight years since he graduated Medfield High, Matt Aucoin has earned plaudits from around the world and become a rising star in the world of opera. He recently announced via Facebook that he will begin a “dream” position this fall as an Artist-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Opera.
The position was created specifically for Aucoin and will allow him to “fuse” his work as a composer and as a conductor. He will conduct the opera, including the premiere of a “major 20th century” opera in 2016-17, two operas including one of his own in 2017-18, and the world premiere of a new opera composed by Aucoin in 2018-19.
“The world of classical music has a bizarre preference for dead composers,” said Aucoin by email from Europe where he is currently traveling. “I love plenty of the dead guys, but as one of ‘The Living,’ I’ve yearned for a long time to be able to give new music a hand however I can.”
Aucoin will conduct Philip Glass’ opera, “Akhnaten,” which he described as a “trippy, contemporary piece,” while also working on a new score for the classic horror movie, “Nosferatu,” which will be performed with a full orchestra at a screening in downtown Los Angeles and also working on his new piece that will debut in 2018.
He said, “So, I feel like a kid who’s been let loose in a candy shop. Or possibly a bull let loose in a china shop?”
As he has grown within the music world, Aucoin has shifted from performing as a jazz and rock pianist and focused more and more on his classical compositions. He enjoys the creative freedom that writing music has afforded him. As he explained, “Writing allows you to wander and explore and get lost in ways that you can’t if you’re collectively improvising.”
He added, “My favorite moment is just after the pencil touches the blank page when I’m starting a new piece. There’s a sense that something pure and blank has been stained, and there’s no turning back.”
As he begins working on the next portion of his career in L.A., Aucoin reflected on how it all began. He said that a career in music was not something he had considered until he was out of Harvard College, when suddenly he needed to, as he put it, “survive.”
When asked if there was a moment that he knew that he had the talent for a career in music, Aucoin replied, “Well…for me making music was always as natural as breathing…I just made music with my friends and one thing led to another.”
“I feel absurdly lucky to be making a living as a composer; if you’d told me five years ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
While his music career took off years after he graduated from Medfield High in 2008, Aucoin credits Music Director Doug Olsen for being a personal mentor.
Aucoin said, “I can’t overstate the impact that Doug Olsen has on every student who comes into contact with him, whether or not the student knows it at the time. He is a profound and pure musician, the kind of teacher anyone would be lucky to come across.”
He added, “We had no idea how lucky we were! Medfield music students, if you’re reading this, show Mr. Olsen a little love!”
Medfield is still in his thoughts, particularly through his former band mates from the rock group Elephantom. He would see several of them regularly in Brooklyn and even credits drummer Nick Pope (“A Medfielder born and bred,” according to Aucoin) for giving him a sense of rhythm.
He has already made his name in the world of classical music and opera and will now be entering a position created especially for him, all while barely in his mid 20s. Looking forward, Aucoin is not resting on his laurels but wants continue making his mark on the world.
“I want to find the music I really need to write,” he explained. “The music that actually gives something back to the universe. I expect that will be a lifelong quest.”
Aucoin continued, “I just learned that black holes prevent the creation of new stars by emanating a very forceful kind of music, a B-flat, which is 57 octaves below middle C. So, I suppose I want to push back against the music of black holes.”
While he looks to the stars for inspiration, Matt Aucoin continues to shine brightly on stages across the world.
For more information about his career and what is next, visit www.matthewaucoin.com.
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.