Matthew Westgate named chair of music and dance department at UMass Amherst : UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – Matthew Westgate, associate professor and director of wind studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named chair of the music and dance department, effective July 2022. He succeeds Salvatore Macchia, who recently completed his three-year appointment as president. Macchia will return to teaching and composing for his 44th year with the department.


Matthew Westgate

In accepting the nomination, Westgate underscored its commitment to redesigning and updating the department’s programs to better meet the needs of today’s students and to fostering collaborations within the department and with the wider community. . “I’m so proud to be a member of this amazing community, and I look forward to serving as department director in the years to come,” said Westgate. He also thanked outgoing President Macchia for leading the department with “heart, passion, vulnerability and thoughtful determination” through three very difficult years.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Westgate began his musical career as a jazz/classical trombonist and public school educator in southwestern Michigan. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education (Phi Beta Kappa) and Masters in Instrumental Conducting from Western Michigan University, then completed his Doctor of Music Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Since his appointment as Director of Wind Studies at UMass Amherst in 2014, Westgate has led the department’s wind ensembles on concert tours in Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Cork and Killarney) and in high-level performances at the National Association of College Band Wardens conferences at the US Coast Guard Academy and Yale University. In 2019, the UMass Wind Ensemble under his direction released three newly commissioned wind pieces on a CD titled “Quicksilver”, which was released on MSR Classics. In 2016, he was nominated for the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award, the only student-focused on-campus teaching recognition.

As a conductor, Westgate has appeared on major concert stages in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia and has conducted some of the country’s finest wind orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the US Marine Band “The President’s Own” and the US Coast Guard. Chamber players. In September 2019, he was featured guest conductor with the Sinfonica Metropolitana Band from Quito (Ecuador), where he will return this fall for another concert. In the summer of 2019, he led the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Twin Lake, Michigan) International Northern Winds on a European concert tour of France, Germany, Austria and Denmark, and he will lead the group for another European tour in 2024.

Westgate’s current research focuses on “Real vs Virtual Communication: The Growing Importance of Community Building through Musical Ensembles in the Age of Technology”, the wind chamber music of Swiss composer Frank Martin and Anton Stadler’s influence on Mozart’s clarinet writing in late 18th century Vienna. In his spare time, Westgate is an avid ultra-marathon and marathon runner and a hiker. He is married to Erica Drake and together they have a creative and curious daughter named Juniper.

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