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LHS grad takes passion for music internationally

Date: 9/14/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW Matthew Bertuzzi is not like many 20-somethings today - he's focused, driven and has answered one of life's hardest questions - what to be in the professional world.

Bertuzzi realized his love for music at age 10 when he began playing the cello and realized his career path thanks to those in the music department at Longmeadow High School.

"At Longmeadow High [School] I was with teachers that were able to nurture that passion [I had] for music and show me the best way to use my passion [in the real world]," Bertuzzi said during an interview with Reminder Publications, adding that he also served as assistant conductor of the school's football pep band.

Since his graduation in 2004, Bertuzzi has taken his passion to its limits, earning a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst, enrolled in the university's graduate program for conducting and recently completed work as assistant conductor of the Italian Operatic Experience (IOE) in Urbania Italy.

He noted that his experiences with the faculty at UMass have also helped him to further his musical education beyond the walls of Longmeadow High School and the university. Bertuzzi was asked by Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr., director of orchestral activities at UMass, to be his assistant conductor this summer at the IOE's Rossini Festival Orchestra.

"The whole experience had a huge impact on him," Marcelletti said.

He noted that Bertuzzi had no previous experience conducting operas - a vital component for conductors to succeed in the workforce.

Marcelletti, who serves as Bertuzzi's graduate advisor, said Bertuzzi's dedication to the five-week program with IOE has prompted him to consider taking on a student each summer.

"It was a great opportunity for me who's never been an assistant conductor," Bertuzzi said of the experience in Italy this summer. "We were in this small town of about 7,000 people in the middle of nowhere so there was really nothing to do but study this opera. The location was really conducive to study."

He added that he was also able to learn about the inner workings of a professional company as opposed to his work conducting ensembles at UMass. Bertuzzi also served as principal conductor for the festival's cover cast performance and opera scene project, which included selections from nine Italian operas.

"It was an intense summer where I had to learn a great deal of music in a short period of time," he said. "I was able for the first time to fully immerse myself in an opera and see what it will be like when I do the same for a professional company."

Bertuzzi plans to complete his graduate work in conducting at UMass and explore doctoral opportunities. He said his experiences at Longmeadow High still remind him of how much he'd like to be a high school conductor one day.