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Matthew Walker: Trombonist makes the music, and the horns too

Matthew Walker, Kettle Moraine Symphony trombonist

If it involves “anything trombone,” Matthew Walker is in. Walker has performed and recorded in venues across the globe, and even crossed oceans to come to Wisconsin to build custom trombones.

A native of Australia, Walker was working toward his bachelor’s degree in music at the Sydney Conservatorium in Music when he won a full-time job with the Australian Opera at the age of 21.

He spent the next 16 years as bass trombonist with the Opera performing on tenor, bass and contrabass trombones for standard opera repertoire as well as many world premieres. He also performed with the Australian Youth Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Queensland Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic,  and later the Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee Ballet and Skylight Opera. His horn also has been heard in numerous TV commercials and background music scores, including the national anthems of countries recorded for the Australian Commonwealth Games in Sydney in 2006. He played contrabass trombone for the “Salem’s Lot” motion picture soundtrack.

Horns first called Walker to come to the United States in 2006 to work for Greenhoe Custom Trombones in Jackson. He now builds trombones as a technician for the Getzen Company in Elkhorn.  His first season with the Kettle Moraine Symphony was in 2008.

What are your other musical interests? Anything involving trombones!

Who was your most influential music teacher? My father, who instilled a real sense of tone being the most important aspect of performance. Also Michael Mulcahy, now with the Chicago Symphony, and Michael's first teacher, Baden McCarron.

When did you start playing? At age nine, in the brass band of my hometown of Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia.

What do you enjoy most about playing? The endless frustration it brings – because there always is something to work on!

What’s on your iPod? Billy Joel, Sting, The Corrs, Elton John, Tower of Power, Chicago, to name a few.

What is your favorite musical memory? Playing for Luciano Pavarotti for his Sydney concerts in 2005.

What advice would you give to young musicians? Practice with a purpose. If you settle for mediocre when you practice, all you are doing is getting better at being mediocre!