By Catherine Twing, Contributing Writer
Marlborough -When Matt Pearl attends the University of Hartford in the fall, he’ll spend countless hours each day studying jazz music and practicing his tenor saxophone.
But this is nothing new for Pearl.
A graduating senior at Marlborough High School (MHS), Pearl has played clarinet since fourth grade and tenor saxophone since sixth. He spends three hours a day practicing and took four music classes this year.
His resume of honors and achievements is impressive.
He played in the Clafin Hill Youth Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble winning the concerto competition. He has earned a spot in the Central District Jazz Band the past four years and State Jazz Band for two. He has earned overall MVP at the Massachusetts Association of Jazz Educators twice and performed May 22 at the annual Anick Young People’s Performing Arts Festival Competition at Marlborough Public Library.
If that’s not enough, he has served as drum major of the MHS Marching Band and president of the Jazz Band for two years.
Pearl credits teachers for pushing him to be a better musician.
“Simon Harding was a really good teacher,” Pearl said. “When I got MHS we had Mr. Piazza. He really got me into it and pushed me really hard through the three years he was here.”
Pearl’s teachers share the same respect for him. Jimmy Verdone became band director at MHS in 2018 and heard great things about Pearl before they even met.
“I wish he was a freshman this year so I could have seen him all four years. When I met with [former band director] Gary Piazza, he said, ‘With Matt Pearl you’ll want for nothing.’ And he was 100 percent right,” Verdone said. “He’s a great kid with a bright future ahead of him.”
He has also made an impact on the department.
“I will miss his willingness to help. I’ll miss his sense of humor, his dedication to the music department,” Verdone said. “Matt is very hard working. He puts in a lot of work outside of school. Very self-driven. He takes that drive and determination and puts it into a product that he wants other people to hear.”
When Pearl was asked what he enjoys about jazz, there was no hesitation.
“The feeling I get when I’m playing or listening; it’s just so different than any other kind of music,” Pearl said. “The expression, creativity. You can be your own person.”
While he listens to a variety of musical genres, he loves jazz and admires tenor players such as Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Dexter Gordon.
Performing at the Hatch Shell May 19 with the jazz band was an important achievement in his musical career.
“It’s always been where the really good Marlborough groups would play. You have to make it through getting golds [at central district and states],” he said. “I know that’s something the jazz band really strives for.”
Pearl will major in jazz studies at the Hartt School and Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford, and is confident his future career will involve music.
“I’d love to make a living off performance. I’m also really open to education,” he said. “I can see myself being a college teacher, or high school director. I know for sure whatever I do will be music-based and I think getting a jazz studies degree will give me the background for whatever I choose.”