NEWS Matthew Westgate

Matthew Westgate Named Chair of UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance

AMHERST, Mass. – Matthew Westgate, associate professor and director of wind studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named chair of the Department of Music and Dance, effective July 2022. He follows Salvatore Macchia, who recently completed his three-year appointment as chair. Macchia will return to teaching and composing for his 44th year with the department.

NEWS Matthew Westgate
Matthew Westgate

In accepting the appointment, Westgate outlined his commitment to redesigning and updating the department’s curricula to better meet the needs of today’s students, and to fostering collaborations within the department and with the broader community. “I am so proud to be a member of this extraordinary community, and I look forward to serving as Department Chair in the years to come,“ said Westgate. He also thanked outgoing chair Macchia for leading the department with “heart, passion, vulnerability, and thoughtful determination” for three very challenging years.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Westgate began his musical career as a jazz/classical trombonist and public school educator in southwest Michigan. He earned his bachelor’s in music education (Phi Beta Kappa) and his master’s in instrumental conducting from Western Michigan University, then went on to complete his doctor of musical arts degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.

Since his appointment as UMass Amherst’s director of wind studies in 2014, Westgate has led the department’s wind ensembles on a concert tour of Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Cork and Killarney) and in high-profile performances at College Band Director National Association Conferences at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and at Yale University. In 2019, the UMass Wind Ensemble under his direction debuted three newly-commissioned pieces for winds on a CD entitled “Quicksilver,” which was released on MSR Classics. In 2016, he was nominated for the UMass “Distinguished Teaching Award,” the only student-driven recognition of teaching on campus.

As a conductor, Westgate has appeared on major concert stages throughout the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia and has guest conducted some of the nation’s top wind bands and chamber ensembles, including “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and the U.S. Coast Guard Chamber Players. In September of 2019, he was a featured guest conductor with the Banda Sinfonica Metropolitana de Quito (Ecuador), where he will return this fall for another concert engagement. During the summer of 2019, he led the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Twin Lake, Michigan) International Northern Winds on a European concert tour of France, Germany, Austria and Denmark, and he will conduct the band for another European tour in 2024.

Westgate’s current research addresses  “Real vs. Virtual Communication: The Increasing Importance of Building Community through Music Ensembles in the Age of Technology,” the wind chamber music of Swiss composer Frank Martin, and the influence of Anton Stadler on Mozart’s clarinet writing in the late 18th century in Vienna. In his spare time, Westgate is an avid ultra-marathon and marathon runner and hiker. He is married to Erica Drake and together they have a creative and curious daughter named Juniper.