NPR listeners met Matthew Muckey six years ago. At that time, he was a boy wonder from Sheldon High School, appearing on the program “From The Top” with host Christopher O’Reilly.
Muckey wowed that audience with his flashy performance of “The Carnival of Venice,” nailing a difficult-to-play high f at the end.
So what became of the young prodigy? He went to Northwestern University, and when he graduated, he was picked by maestro Lorin Maazel as the associate trumpet principal of the New York Philharmonic – a pretty nice job for a guy just out of college.
The Sacramento Philharmonic invited Muckey to come back this week, as a soloist. So for the past few days, Muckey’s been hanging out at his childhood home – a five acre spread on a country road south of town. When I arrived, Matthew Muckey and his mom Susan were feeding Jasper, the family pet – which happens to be a donkey.
When he was growing up, the rural setting gave Muckey something special – a big, outdoor space to play. Standing on the back porch, the sound reflects off the nearby barn.
“It’s a pretty unique place….”
In the back yard, Muckey can do things that wouldn’t be wise at his apartment in New York.
“Something I like to do is just play really loudly…”
Muckey does amazing things with his trumpet, but he began as a keyboard player. His mom was and is a piano teacher – that’s her in the background. Young Matthew started piano lessons at age five. He tried the trumpet at age nine, and considered it his second instrument for years. But the ability he showed led to the Sacramento Youth Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and lessons at UC Davis.
Muckey turned professional last year. Joining a big league orchestra like the New York Philharmonic fulfills a dream. The job also involves a lot of touring.
Local audiences can hear Matthew Muckey on Saturday night, with the Sacramento Philharmonic. You can bet that plenty of old friends, band mates and teachers will be there for the homecoming.