May 21, 2024

Senior Jordan Mathews got to live out the musician’s dream over Easter break: performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Encouraged by a piano professor while studying abroad in Costa Rica, Mathews entered the American Protégé contest, and claimed second place. The best musicians – pianists of all ages, as well as vocalists, cellists, violinists and a string quartet – were recognized and got to perform at the iconic music hall.
And Mathews was selected to close the show.
“We got an email with a pdf of the program,” he said, “and so I looked for my name, and I ended up being the last one . . . it was an honor.”
Behind the scenes, Mathews talked to people, utilized breathing exercises and performed yoga to relax before he went on.
“The time went by really slow,” he said, “I was getting more excited, but I was relaxed, mostly.”
Mathews performed three Gershwin preludes, and was very pleased with how he remained disciplined.
“When you perform, you have to stay so focused, you know; you don’t want to be distracted,” he said. “I was very satisfied with how I did.”
Mathews started piano lessons with a church organist when he was seven, and continued lessons with various teachers off and on throughout his life, but has dedicated his time in college to mastering the instrument.
“It’s what I enjoy most, and sometimes I just feel like it’s what I’m good at,” he said. “It’s what I do; it’s who I am.”
Music inspires Mathews, and has been an important part of his life for many reasons.
“When I can’t express all my emotions in a certain way – even though I’m outgoing – it either relieves stress or is a way to focus, a way to concentrate; it balances me,” he said.
Mathews said he was grateful for the support from the students, faculty, staff and music department at Wittenberg, and was thrilled to have this experience.
“I think anything is possible,” he said. “I never thought that I’d be playing there [Carnegie Hall] . . . I told my professor ‘I’m not applying; I’m not going to make it.’ And I did, and it was such an honor to even be there, and then especially to close the show. But I think it takes work and dedication, and you have to want something; you have to work hard for it, and then it can happen.”

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