An active advocate for expanding diversity and inclusion in the arts, Dr. Matt Travis (M.M. choral conducting, '09), director of choral and orchestral programs at Midland Center for the Arts, has joined the Advisory Board of the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), which includes executives from Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and others. With a mission to increase diversity in American orchestras by eliminating financial and logistical barriers for musicians, NAAS brings together key industry leaders to develop a comprehensive, national approach and strategies.
"I'm sincerely honored to be part of the vital work that NAAS is doing to ensure that people of every race have the resources to pursue their ambitions as professional musicians," said Travis. "By providing underrepresented musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, financial support and audition previews, significant progress is being made to bring forward a new generation of musical talent that is more wholly representative."
Launched in 2018, NAAS is made up of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program administrator and fiscal agent for the Alliance; the New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras. Supported by a four-year $1.8 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation along with additional financial and programmatic contributions from America's orchestras, NAAS offers a holistic and personalized array of support to Black and Latinx musicians to develop audition skills, increase participation in auditions and, ultimately, increase representation in orchestras.
"Matt's selection to the NAAS Advisory Board is a substantial and well-deserved honor and will be an excellent platform for him continue his personal and professional goals for broadening the accessibility of orchestral and choral music for the audiences and the artists," said Terri Trotter, president and CEO of Midland Center for the Arts. "Since joining our organization in 2017, he has been instrumental in fostering a creative and dynamic spirit in programming and promotion throughout the organization, resulting in innovative partnerships and commissions that are changing the perception of what audiences can expect."
In his role as director of choral and orchestral programs, Travis directs the in-house community choirs and serves as liaison between the Center, MSO and the extensive choral programs. Previously, he has served as music director for the Kent Singers, a community chorus in Connecticut. He also founded and directed the UCONN Men's Glee Club and taught undergraduate coursework in conducting and general music while pursuing a doctorate in choral conducting at The University of Connecticut. A native of Bay City, Michigan, he completed as bachelor's degree in Voice Performance at the University of Michigan and a master's degree in Choral Conducting at Penn State University.
"A very talented musician in his own right, Matt has both the personal passion and the community commitment we need to keep the MSO strong and relevant to today's audiences," said MSO Music Director Bohuslav Rattay.
Travis has been recognized as a rising leader in arts administration by Association of Performing Arts Professionals and the League of American Orchestras.
Find more information about NAAS online at http://www.sphinxmusic.org/national-alliance-for-audition-support/; for The Sphynx Organization at http://www.sphinxmusic.org/ ; and Midland Center for the Arts at https://www.mcfta.org/