Meet Matthew Brown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Katie Scarvey
When Adam Ward took a job in Charlotte after 10 years with First Methodist in Salisbury, he left behind a thriving music program.
The church’s new director of music ministries, Matthew Brown, plans to continue that tradition and build on it.
Brown, who is 26, grew up in Burlington attending the United Church of Christ.
“I was fascinated by the sound of the organ as a child,” he says.
He started playing the piano at age 5. By the time he was 8, he was playing by ear for church services.
At age 10, he began formal organ lessons, continuing until he went to college at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
He graduated with a bachelor of music degree in organ performance and then went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. After finishing that program, he moved to New York City and worked as an organist for an Episcopal parish in the East Village. He studied abroad on a grant from the Carwithen foundation.
Ultimately, he decided that as “a proud southerner,” he needed to get back to his roots and be closer to his family ó which conveniently provided better access to sweet tea. So when the opportunity to replace Adam Ward as the music director at First United Methodist church arose, he jumped at the chance.
He was looking for a solid, well-established church with a strong music program, with “integrity of music and worship,” he says.
He’s recently affiliated FUMC with the Royal School of Church Music, a global organization with the goal of uplifting spiritual lives of communities through the highest quality of church music possible.
Brown is particularly interested in developing the church’s youth choirs.
Brown is happy that he can take the gift he says he received ó of learning the Christian faith through music ó to the children in his choirs.
Brown has also started an ambitious concert series that will involve the community. The series includes some Sunday morning worship services, but other concerts will be offered as well, including, on Oct. 10, “An Evening of Chamber Music,” featuring tenor Jonathan Sidden, violist Christine Placilla and Brown on piano.
The East Rowan High School Honors Chorus will sing as part of the series, and on Dec. 19 the Ron Rudkin Jazz trio from the North Carolina School of the Arts will perform.
In the spring, Giannini Brass, one of North Carolina’s premier brass ensembles, will perform a program of classical, jazz and Dixieland music.
To learn more about FirstARTS, call 704-636-3121.