James Matthews is a junior studying piano performance at the University of West Florida. The Lakeland, FL native has been selected to perform at Carnegie Hall this spring. Matthews was recently honored as a 2014 American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition Honorable Mention Winner. He competed against students from countries such as Serbia, Russia, and China.
“We all submitted a piece online, and they had a panel of professional pianist judges that can listen to us,” Matthews said. “Based on our performance, they picked and choose who won based on whatever pieces that we sent on.”
Matthews submitted Sonata No. 7 by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev for his audition. The winners of the competition will perform at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City, NY on April 20.
“It’s not uncommon for me to spend like, ten hours a day practicing. It’s pretty common for a lot of pianists to practice all day, all night,” Matthews said.
Matthews is a recipient of a Music Talent Scholarship. He accompanies the UWF Singers and Madrigals and performs with the UWF jazz band and orchestra.
“It’s an on-going battle between having times where I absolutely hate my instrument and times when things are going great. I’ve taken some time off and tried to do other things, but no matter what I do, I always find my way back to the piano bench. I love it. It’s kept me through some really difficult times growing up, and if it wasn’t for piano, I don’t know where I’d be,” Matthews said.
In the future, Matthews hopes to earn a doctorate in piano and continue performing.
Katya Ivanov, WUWF News