Matt Tilford '11 plays for a cause

By Rob Duffy


Matt Tilford ’11 will be performing a benefit piano concert on March 10 at 7 p.m. in the Natalie Davis Rooke Recital Hall of the Sigfried Weis Music Building to raise money for the many service organizations he has been involved with in his time at the University. The Bucknellian recently sat down with Tilford to ask some questions about the concert and his experiences composing music.

Q: Tell us a little about the concert.

A: It’s called “Music Making a Difference.” Whatever money we raise is going to be evenly divided between the Bucknell Brigade, the Civil Rights spring break trip, Common Ground, the Katrina Recovery Trip and the office of LGBT Awareness. Suggested donation is $5 for students and $10 for anyone else, and if anyone wants to write a check they can make it out to the Office of Civic Engagement.

Mostly it’s going to be me playing on the piano original pieces that I composed, for the most part inspired by my involvement with those organizations receiving the money. For example, when I was in New Orleans with the Katrina Recovery Team, there was this old beat-up piano where we were staying, and while we were there I wrote a piece inspired by what I was experiencing as part of the trip; so that particular piece is what I’m playing at the concert. There’s a direct link between what I’m playing and who’s benefiting from it. I’m also going to talk a little bit about my involvement with each of these organizations, and there will be a few other students and staff members who will speak.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of holding a concert?

A: The idea for the concert was actually Fran McDaniel’s before she died. I haven’t really been directly involved with the LGBT office like I have with the other programs, but I knew Fran through my music, so I kind of decided to go with it and do it as a tribute to her and in her memory.

Q: As a history major and someone who’s student-teaching, how did you get into composing music?

A: I started playing the piano when I was four; music and piano in particular was always a big part of my life growing up. I got very involved with the music programs with my high school. I think most people expected me to go on to study music and do more with it, but I was burned out of it by the time I finished high school. I was more interested in studying history and becoming a teacher, and I just needed to try different things and broaden my horizons.

Q: What got you back into music?

A: What I found when I got here was that I needed to sit down and play the piano. I didn’t have any music with me, but I started going into the practice rooms in the music building and playing stuff. Over time I started noticing themes and patterns I liked to play a lot, and eventually they started turning into these songs that I’ve composed. By the beginning of junior year I was doing it more consciously. I haven’t actually written much of this stuff down; it’s mostly just in my head and what I’ve recorded.

Q: How did you come to start sharing your music?

A: It wasn’t until this year that I started sharing my composing. One of my pieces, “Finding Common Ground,” sort of became the theme song for Common Ground. There’s an activity at the end of Common Ground called “Breaking the Silence” where everyone has the opportunity to talk about what they’ve gotten out of the experience. I was playing with the idea of playing this song during the activity. After I did play it, everyone asked what else I had composed and if they could have a recording, and things just snowballed from there. Since then, I’ve recorded two CDs and played at a number of different events and memorial services.

Q: Any plans for the future?

A: I’m hoping to get another CD out before the end of the semester, before I graduate, and I guess I’ll go from there. A not-so-secret ambition is to become a film composer; I’m not really expecting that to happen, but if it did I’d be happy with it. In the meantime, I’ll keep performing, keep composing and keep sharing it with people.

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