Bass trombonist Matthew Guilford began his musical training at the age of nine. His mother’s love of the trombone sound, combined with a classified ad for a used King Cleveland Superior for $50 in the local newspaper set the wheels in motion on his remarkable musical journey. By the age of 12, he was playing his first bass trombone—a Conn 62H, and was under the tutelage of bass trombonist/teacher Jerry Shaw.
In high school, Matthew was an honor student and athlete as well as a musician. A broken collar bone and fractured left arm were all the convincing he needed to give up football in favor of the bass trombone. Playing with the Boston Youth Symphony made him realize that he could achieve the same kind of endorphin rush from the back row of an orchestra that he used to get as a middle linebacker—only no broken bones.
Matthew turned down a four-year chancellor’s scholarship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in favor of study at Boston University where he majored in music with a minor focus in Russian language. His studies with Norman Bolter began in his first year. As a B.U. student, Matthew worked closely with the Empire Brass Quintet and joined the Epic Brass Quintet as trombonist (playing the trombone part on bass trombone).
In his second year at B.U., he was the only bass trombonist in the school of music and knew he would need some competition in order to thrive, so he transferred across the city to the New England Conservatory at the start of his third year. The trombone studio at that time now reads like a Who’s Who for the trombone world: Mark Fisher (Chicago Lyric Opera); Julie Josephson (NY freelance/soloist); David Ridge (San Francisco Opera); Paul Welcomer (San Francisco Symphony); Douglas Wright (Minnesota Orchestra) just to mention a few. Matthew’s studies with Norman Bolter continued after his transfer to N.E.C.
By his senior year, the Boston Symphony had appointed Douglas Yeo as its new bass trombonist, and Matthew became his first student at N.E.C. Guilford received his bachelor’s degree with distinction in performance in 1986. He continued his studies with Yeo as a graduate student in the fall of 1986. Matthew made his first appearance with the Boston Pops at the age of 21 and was soon the first call substitute for the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. His freelance engagements included the Boston Ballet, Opera Company of Boston and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. Matthew graduated from N.E.C. with a master’s degree in 1988 and was a student of John Swallow in his final year. In the summer following his graduation, he was a fellow at the Tanglewood Institute.
Guilford won his first orchestral position in the summer of 1989 at the age of 23 and was soon driving across the U.S. to begin his new job with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. In addition to his duties with the S.F.O., he often performed with the San Francisco Symphony, recorded the motion picture soundtrack to Predator II at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and went on the road with a Broadway touring company of Les Miserables in the Pacific Northwest.
In the summer of 1991, at the age of 25, Matthew won the bass trombone audition for the National Symphony Orchestra and was hired by music director Mstislav Rostropovitch. He was soon on the faculties of the Catholic University of America and the University of Maryland at College Park. Several of his students have gone on to successful performing and teaching careers. As a much sought-after educator and clinician, Matthew has presented programs for the International Trombone Festival, The Eastern Trombone Workshop, and the National Orchestral Institute. He has given master classes and clinics at most of the top colleges, conservatories and universities both here in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to the N.S.O., Guilford has performed with many of the top U.S. orchestras, including: the Baltimore Symphony; the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops; the Minnesota Orchestra; the New York Philharmonic; and the San Francisco Symphony. He has also performed with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He was a featured soloist with the N.S.O. in the spring of 2005, performing Chris Brubeck’s Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra with Marvin Hamlisch conducting. Guilford also performed the Brubeck Concerto with the N.S.O. at the U.S. Capitol for the annual Labor Day Concert, as well as the J.F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Open House. He has also appeared as soloist with the Harvard University Band, the U.S. Army Band and U.S. Army Orchestra. A few other groups/solo artists he has performed with include: The Guarneri String Quartet; the Krakow (Poland) Philharmonic; and Diana Krall.