by Mark McGowan
The five-year music director and conductor of the University Symphony Orchestra at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will move this August to the NIU School of Music.
Lucia Matos, a native of Brazil, will serve as conductor of the NIU Philharmonic and music director of the NIU Opera Workshop. Matos also will teach conducting.
“I feel very fortunate to be joining NIU,” Matos said. “The NIU School of Music has an outstanding faculty, very talented students and a warm and vibrant atmosphere.”
Paul Bauer, director of the School of Music, said Matos “brings a level of artistry that will be a strong complement to our artist faculty, which includes the Avalon String Quartet.”
“Dr. Matos has previously performed professionally with several NIU faculty, and we look forward to the great potential such collaborations will provide in the future,” Bauer said. “I am confident that she will be a highly respected teacher by students and colleagues, as she is quite knowledgeable and demanding, yet supportive in her manner.”
Matos holds master’s and doctoral degrees in conducting from the University of Iowa, where she arrived in 1998 on a fellowship, and a bachelor’s degree in conducting from Campinas State University in her native Brazil.
Fluent in English and Portuguese, she also speaks Italian and French and has basic knowledge of German, Spanish, Czech, Romanian and Hungarian.
She has conducted orchestras in the United States, Brazil and Europe and has served as an opera music director across the Midwest. She recorded a CD with the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra that was released in 2006. In 2007, she was a semi-finalist at the Bela Bartok International Opera Conducting Competition.
Not surprisingly, Matos calls music her “first interest in life.”
“My first memories are of seeing someone play the piano when I was 2 years old, and it has been my interest since then. The memory was engraved,” she said. “I love how much music can communicate.”
Nine years later, at the age of 11, she convinced her parents to pay for piano lessons. “I really put my heart into it,” she said.
“Then when I went to college I decided to be a conducting major. I first fell in love with choral conducting, but in the last years of the program, I had the chance to work with an orchestra,” she added. “At my first rehearsal, I knew instantaneously that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. It was a very strong experience.”
Matos said the NIU Philharmonic will continue to perform major works of the standard repertoire. She also plans to program contemporary music and Latin American works as well.
Meanwhile, she’s started planning for the for the next year and recruiting students to NIU through her guest-conducting engagements.
“I am very much looking forward to the start of the fall semester. I hope the students will find that I am passionate about music and that I have high expectations for them,” Matos said, “but at the same time that I’ll foster a nurturing orchestral environment.”