Matthew Russo, Trombone
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Matthew Russo


Matthew Russo, Trombone

Trombonist Matthew Russo enjoys a varied career throughout Connecticut as an educator and performer. Russo is serves on the faculty at The Hartt School Community Division and the University of Connecticut. Prior to his appointment at UConn, he served on the faculty of The Hartt School, leading the Hartt Trombone Ensemble in the premieres of 10 new works for trombone choir and fundraising concerts that raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Russo’s students have had success in regional, state, and national competitions and festivals. 

As a performer, Russo frequently performs as a soloist with area ensembles, including a recent solo concerto performance with the Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, he premiered Ryan Jesperson’s Concerto for Trombone, “Cowiche” with the UConn Symphony Orchestra. He is principal trombonist of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, and appears regularly with the New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, Wallingford, and Greater Bridgeport Symphonies. He is a regular trombonist at the Goodspeed Opera House, most recently in its productions of Oklahoma! and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and has played for the Hartford Stage, Monomoy, Ivoryton, and Playhouse on Park theatre companies.

A frequent recitalist and advocate of new music, Russo endeavors to bring unknown works to new audiences through innovative programs and themes. In these endeavors, he has premiered dozens of works. His most recent program,Memoirs, focused on music and memory and featured the premiere of Julien Monick’s Azteccia Sketches for trombone and piano. 

Russo is a two-time winner of the Paranov Concerto Competition and was runner-up in the 2012 International Trombone Association Alto Competition at the International Trombone Festival in Paris, France. Russo holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from The Hartt School and a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music. His main area of research is the collegiate trombone ensemble. His doctoral essay, Transcribing the Fourth Movement of Brahms's Symphony No. 4, discusses the compositional techniques used by transcribers and arrangers when writing for the trombone ensemble. His principal teachers include Ronald A. Borror, Scott Hartman, and John D. Rojak. Russo plays Hartman mouthpieces.

Teaching Philosophy

My ultimate goal as an educator is to foster curiosity in all of my students. The path there differs from student to student and age to age. My students are encouraged to experience music in a variety of ways, including singing, playing their instrument, and movement. Students will experience strict routines and free improvisations. We may engage in activities that may seem unrelated at the time but are designed to find a solution through a different approach. Above all, students will develop musicianship, not just learning the correct notes and rhythms, and will be encouraged to find their own unique musical voice. Students are encouraged to embrace the music that interests them while displaying mastery of a variety of musical styles. 

I believe in a structured, disciplined, and individualized curriculum that progressively builds on techniques from lesson to lesson. My role is to guide students through various styles of music, helping them to recognize what music speaks to them. The goal is for students to have the skills to examine the exceptions in music, rather than regurgitate the rules handed down from generation to generation. Each lesson asks students how to address their own challenges and come up with their own solutions. This expectation of self-sufficiency extends beyond the classroom with the hope that students will have the ability to address issues in their playing on their own. 

This works in tandem with my philosophy that the teacher has just as much to learn in the classroom as the students. I challenge myself to answer why a particular concept worked well or did not. Each lesson is an opportunity for the teacher and student to explore a technique or topic in the hope of finding a solution for that student.