Press, News & Other Commentaries

The Matt McCallie Orchestra headlines Evening of Jazz:

Feb 19, 2015

     MOUNT VERNON -- The Matt McCallie Orchestra will be featured at the ninth annual Evening of Jazz concert Saturday, Feb. 21, in Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

The ensemble has entertained at many events and receptions in the St. Louis area. The experienced roster of orchestra members are professionally trained, many with music degrees from some the country’s top music programs.

     An Evening of Jazz will be from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Mitchell Museum Performance Hall at Cedarhurst, 2600 Richview Road in Mount Vernon.

Rend Lake College dance instructors Dan and Neth Huebel will also be on the dance floor during the evening of music.

     Tickets for the event are $35 per person or $30 for members of Cedarhurst. For more information, call 618-242-1236 or go to


Harrison Rich Blog

Photos from The Matt McCallie Orchestra Photoshoot

Image | Posted on July 23, 2013 by harrisonrich84

     Here are some photos from the photoshoot we took at The Principia a couple of weeks ago. Many of them turned out great and you can see the rest by going to The Matt McCallie website here. We are getting ready to play at a big bridal show at America’s Center on Sunday, and many other events to come.

7/28-The Wedding Show W/ The Matt McCallie Orchestra

Posted on July 27, 2013 by harrisonrich84

     Tomorrow I will be playing with The Matt McCallie Orchestra at America’s Center for The Wedding Show. We will be playing from 1:30-2:00 pm before the fashion show begins, and are expecting very many people to be attending and watching. I am sure that this will be great exposure for this group and I am expecting great feedback. For more information on the event, check out the wedding show link here.

Thanks Matt McCallie Orchestra

Posted on January 18, 2013 by harrisonrich84

     I wanted to take a minute tonight to give thanks to Matt McCallie and the Matt McCallie Orchestra. I started playing with the group in October playing alto saxophone and look forward to playing many gigs with them in the future. This is a group of many unique individuals that care and work hard at musicianship and have a lot to offer to this group. For me, it is always a fun and humbling experience to play with musicians who are so talented and can learn music quickly.

     I have only played out with members of this group once and can’t wait until I get to play a gig with the entire ensemble. I am going to try to promote this group more in the future, especially for private parties and weddings.

     That’s all I am going to write about this group for now because if you are reading this and interested, I would rather you check out our website. Below I will post links to our website and Facebook page as well as a video of me playing with members of the ensemble. More photos and videos can be found on the website. I hope you enjoy our music, like us on Facebook, and will remember us in the future!,_L.L.C./The_Matt_McCallie_Orchestra,_L.L.C..html

Thanks to the Matt McCallie Orchestra

Posted on January 18, 2013 by harrisonrich84

     Hello again, not feeling as good today and I hate having these days where I feel like nothing productive will come out of it. I digress. Tonight I will start organizing this blog so that in the future everything will be categorized. It should be interesting.

     I have a lot of other things to post about but given how much time I have for right now I will wait on those towards the end of the week. I wanted to take a minute tonight to give thanks to Matt McCallie and the Matt McCallie Orchestra. I started playing with the group in October playing alto saxophone and look forward to playing many gigs with them in the future. This is a group of many unique individuals that care and work hard at musicianship and have a lot to offer to this group. For me, it is always a fun and humbling experience to play with musicians who are so talented and can learn music quickly.

     I have only played out with members of this group once and can’t wait until I get to play a gig with the entire ensemble. I am going to try to promote this group more in the future, especially for private parties and weddings.

     That’s all I am going to write about this group for now because if you are reading this and interested, I would rather you check out our website. Below I will post links to our website and Facebook page as well as a video of me playing with members of the ensemble. More photos and videos can be found on the website. I hope you enjoy our music, like us on Facebook, and will remember us in the future!,_L.L.C./The_Matt_McCallie_Orchestra,_L.L.C..html

Central West End Window Walk-Off:

The 3rd Annual CWE Window Walk Kick-Off is Huge Success

Posted on December 06, 12 in Arts & Entertainment, Events

     Thanks to a little warm weather and a city filled with holiday spirit the 3rd Annual CWE Window Walk Kick-Off Party held on Saturday, December 1st was a huge success! Hoards of people came out to view the beautifully decorated windows in the neighborhood, ride the trolley and horse-drawn carriages and listen to the music of live bands on the corners. Check out the video below taken by The Matt McCallie Orchestra in front of Coffee Cartel on Saturday. They played great holiday tunes for passers-by to enjoy.  For more music by Matt McCallie’s  Orchestra check out their Youtube channel.

7th Annual Hot Dig It's Chili Cook-Off @ Blue Bird Park:

     Vendors at Hot Dog It’s Chili in Ellisville’s Blue Bird Park [File photo]

The arrival of fall means one thing in Ellisville, it’s time to get your recipes ready for the area’s favorite chili competition.

     The 7th annual Hot Dog It’s Chili cook-off, hosted by the Ellisville Parks and Recreation Department, takes place on Friday, Oct. 18, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Bluebird Park, 225 Kiefer Creek Road.

     Chili contestants will have booths in the parking lot near the park’s playground. Competition guidelines are available upon registration and on Each vendor is responsible for acquiring a temporary food permit for the day of the event.

     Chili tasting is available on a first-come, first-served basis until it runs out. However, a panel of local judges will determine which chili is best. An awards ceremony will be held at approximately 7 p.m.

     Chili teams interested in competing can contact Recreation Coordinator Sally Grobelny at (636) 227-7508 or by email at

     Let’s not forgot the dog in this annual event.

     As is tradition, dogs and dog owners can don their finest and funniest Halloween garb as part of the popular Howl-O-Ween dog costume contest. The contest will award prizes to winners in four categories: best costume, best costume combo with owner, most original and spookiest.

     The Howl-O-Ween dog costume contest returns for 2019. [File photo]

On-site registration is permitted but all registration must be completed before 6:15 p.m. The proceeds from each $5 entry fee will benefit the Ellisville Dog Park.

     Entertaining the crowd will be The Matt McCallie Orchestra, which will have attendees wanting to dance the night away. McCallie promises, “We’ve got the jams to get your toes tapping, hips shaking, hands in the air, and your feet stomping!”

     What’s not to love about the combination of delicious chili, free kids’ activities, dogs in costumes and  a dance band that is consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation.

     Kids’ activities include a variety of games and craft activities, professional balloon artists and face painters.

     Food vendors on-site will offer bundt cakes, from local favorite Nothing Bundt Cakes; hot dogs, brats, hamburgers and pulled pork; kettle corn; lemonade; adult beverages and more.

Visitors can park in Bluebird Park’s parking lots. Hayride shuttles will run from the park’s back parking lot to the event, which can be accessed through the park’s main entrance.

VoyageSTL Interview:

     Voyage STL spotlights local businesses working to improve the lives of others. Their interviews focus on stories that inform and inspire. We were honored to be asked to take part and be featured in 2021. Here is the link to the story on their website:

     The story is pasted below:

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt McCallie.

Hi Matt, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

     When I moved back to the St. Louis area in 2010, most recently from teaching music in Alaska, I joined multiple ensembles like big bands, blues, Motown and rock bands, played in pit and stage orchestras, and sang in an African choir. Despite putting a great deal of effort into each project, none showed long-term career type potential and some bands never even played any paying gigs. While I had wanted to someday lead a big band of my own, it was other local musicians who urged me to create a new band. They wanted to perform music they loved that was both fun and challenging. And they wanted to entertain audiences who would enjoy their art enough to pay professional rates.

     There were many challenges. One was that there were already long-established bands in the area with great name recognition booking pretty much every opportunity my musicians wanted. Another challenge was coming up with the actual notes on the page, sheet music for the musicians to play. We needed parts for vocals, horns, rhythm section and string players. Thanks to the efforts of the musicians in my new band, we were able to connect with a lot of other great musicians and we pooled together a large library of great arrangements and were soon creating a sound unlike any other local groups. But we still struggled as I, the unemployed musician, took on all the financial, booking and arranging duties the new orchestra demanded. The work it took was well beyond a single full-time job.

     Now, a decade later, the same struggles exist but we’ve managed to not only last but to stand out as the most versatile band around. The amount of work it takes to maintain our edge is still beyond what any single human can accomplish but we cover a couple thousand songs with ensembles of any size available from a soloist to around a hundred musicians.

     Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Becoming an agent for dozens of musicians was a job I never sought but the pressure to help them feed their families is a strong motivator. The costs of running an orchestra greatly outweigh the profits. Without a day job, nor the ability to work due to my being crippled, the band has no funding other than its own earnings, which isn’t nearly enough. Many bands pay less but musicians keep wanting to be paid more.

     The financial factor is one that could be solved a couple of ways. If we had merchandise and CDs to sell at our shows that would help. To do that, we’d mostly need to play public shows that pay next to nothing, especially when divvying earnings amongst a larger number of musicians. My musicians overwhelmingly chose to play fewer but higher-paying gigs so I’ve been stuck without that option.

     Likely, what would best increase earnings would be to put more focus into original music, but clients almost always want familiar covers they and their friends and families know and love and want to dance to. An understandable predicament and since I’ve chosen to operate this business so client-oriented, instead of focusing on our own art, we rarely have opportunities to perform or market original material.

     Another challenge is that we started as mostly a big band playing jazz standards and some Motown, soul, blues, and R&B classics. But clients increasingly wanted more rock, pop and Top 40. Then, they wanted more country, then more disco, bluegrass, folk, oldies, etc. We needed to keep diversifying more and more but there was no sheet music available for an orchestra to perform these client requests. Writing arrangements of all this music is a never-ending workload. Not only that, creating arrangements with the flexibility to be performed as just a singer/guitar player or singer/pianist, string quartet, solo violinist, small horn band, large orchestra, etc. is a challenge unique to this band.

     Perhaps my most insurmountable challenges are my physical disabilities. I live in constant pain with limited motion. Simply carrying a guitar to a gig is very difficult. Fortunately, I have a roadie now working most of my smaller gigs with me named Munchkin. He’s an Alaskan Malamute who is a federally registered service dog. He is incredibly strong, patient, and loves to work. We play a lot of awkward makeshift stages in backyards and living rooms, and sometimes up steep staircases to balconies that make it hard for him to do as much as he otherwise could but in almost all circumstances, he is able to save me at least a couple trips between the truck and the stage.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?

     A couple of the most common questions people ask about what I do are about where we usually perform and what our performances are like. Non-musicians often expect that they can come see us play regularly at some specific bar, club, restaurant, or winery. When they ask, they tell me they want to come to more of our performances. It can be hard for them to understand that we rarely entertain the same venues twice because we are always playing different events for different clients. To answer the question of what our shows are like, every single performance we do is totally customized. We have never, not even once in the past decade, played the same setlist twice. We often provide different songs, genres, instruments, and even different musicians. We sometimes have as many as three ensembles performing simultaneously even in multiple states. One might be a string quartet playing pop music. Another could be a classical violinist and pianist in a church. Another could be a redneck BBQ as a singer/guitar player covering classic rock, country, and bluegrass.

     Hard to say that we’re really known for any one thing. Most bands would be incapable of even attempting this versatility and doing it with consistent authenticity is perhaps what sets us even more apart from most local bands. And there are other local big bands, but none have a strings section full time. That’s mainly because there isn’t much sheet music available and you can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars to buy it per song when you can find it, hoping that the transcriptions/arrangements are decently written.

     While my skills may be less known to the public, what musicians probably know me for are my skills as an arranger and composer, professionalism, and perhaps my performing abilities. Musicians and audiences tend to compliment my vocal skills. And I have my own fingerstyle guitar technique but even most musicians don’t realize that unless they play guitar themselves.

     Most of our gigs are three and four hours long and singing in front of a large band for that many hours is something few of even the world’s most famous singers can pull off on a regular basis. That, and I self-accompany, almost always singing and playing either guitar or piano at the same time. This really aids my ability to lead my bands and keep songs driven strong beginning to end.

     My preference, however, would be to hand over the instrumental reigns more often so I could focus on just vocals during more performances. But that would mean having to write out more of those accompaniment parts and having to hire more musicians. Another aspiration is to someday transition to having my original music be more in demand than covers.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?

     The music industry has been struggling to adapt to the fact that few people still buy entire albums, and most purchases are digital sales. Streaming platforms have become the most consumed source of music. What was for decades the greatest source of income for recording artists, songwriters, and record companies may barely still exist a decade from now.

     The Matt McCallie Orchestra has yet to release any CDs or any recordings for sale at all so our business has relied on what recording artists are now having to shift toward, focusing on live shows. It is in the live performances that we thrive, interacting with the audience, giving the best sound quality possible-in person.

     The pandemic brought live concerts and tours to a halt. In March alone I had been hired to play guitar for a musical at Webster University and had at least ten engagements for that month alone disappear. Musicians, literal gig workers, lost more job opportunities than most types of employment. If the world can’t maintain live performances, profitable music opportunities will be compressed to a small fraction of what we’ve known and enjoyed for most of our lives. Even a televised concert cannot transmit the full audio spectrum of being present for a performance, which is why audiences connect such strong feelings to concerts they’ve attended. It is on us, the musicians, to keep these experiences alive and in demand by not just being skilled at our instruments but by providing memorable moments.

Contact Info:

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Alaska Dispatch:

From Bach to Bon Jovi

Heather Lende | Dec 11, 2009

One of the biggest benefits of having your youngest child graduate from high school is that you never again have to hear "Good King Wenceslas" played on honking fifth-grade horns to the same beat as "Hot Cross Buns."

But you might have to listen to the second-graders play and sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on ukuleles if your oldest child is the teacher.

In Haines, the school Christmas concert is a tradition. December wouldn't be the same without hearing four versions of "Jingle Bells" or too many variations on the winter wonderland theme to count in one evening.

I was debating whether or not to go when I bumped into the school activities director at the library. I saw a flicker of envy when she said that I didn't have to attend the concert anymore. I told her I might go anyway, and she said that this year it would feature performances from each class, kindergarten through twelfth grade. That's about 300 students.

It could last three hours.

She said she had talked to the new music teacher and tried to convince him to shorten it up to two hours. "The high school band cut their numbers down to six," she said.

Six? That meant six band numbers in addition to the class songs, the elementary school and junior high band performances, and all the shuffling with instruments and music stands, from the seats on the basketball court or bleachers to the stage and back again in our combination gym-auditorium.

It was going to be long night.

My teacher-daughter assured me that her class would play and sing at the beginning, and that I could exit afterwards. I stood in the back next to the superintendent and the science teacher. We exchanged glances of mutual condolence. The school music program has suffered in the last few years, with a revolving door of new teachers. The latest, Mr. McCallie, is from somewhere in the Midwest and is a big young guy with a ponytail. The folks at the assisted living home like him; he sang and played the guitar over there during last week's ice cream social, but that's about all I'd heard.

Well, the first surprise was the fledgling high school guitar group; there must have been a dozen teenagers plucking and strumming in sync. They played "Greensleeves," "Simple Gifts," and earned the rapt awe of the audience with Bach's "Minuet in G." Their guitars sounded like harpsichords.

This certainly was different. The new music teacher may be on to something, I thought. From the looks on the faces all around me, I wasn't the only one. This was not bad at all.

Then the Kindergartners sang and gestured all together with great feeling, "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," to a burst of happy clapping from the crowd. I heard the science teacher say, "That will be the high point of the evening," as it has been since my children wore their holiday best and watched the very same teacher kneel in front of them in her velvet dress and Santa hat, directing.

Turns out, the science teacher was wrong. That was only one of the highlights in an evening with no low-lights. What's not to love about a tribe of seven- and eight-year-olds who can play "Jingle Bells" on the ukulele? Or a sixth grade band that can toot out a comfortable "Home on the Range"?

Remember that diminished high school band that had me contemplating earplugs? I now prefer to think of them as Charles and the Jazzettes. They may have only one trumpet player, but he stole the show on an arrangement of a classic carol called "Hark! The Herald Trumpets Swing." I'm glad they played six songs.

Although by then I was tired of standing. I slipped into an empty seat next to my friend Alice, who reacted the same way all of us, it seemed, were, with raised eyebrows and a smile. "This is pretty good," she whispered, and said she wished her daughter, who was in the choir, would play in the band.

Then the middle school choir sang Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home," and half the old folks in the place and all of the young ones sang along, or tried to. You can imagine what happened by the time the choirs combined to perform John Denver's "Country Roads," since we all knew that one.

Maybe it's the homesick season, or the darkness, or low blood sugar (I still hadn't had dinner) but the last song, Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" made the room all blurry. The superintendent was singing by then. So were the science teacher's wife, the high school basketball players, and even that boy who had been in so much trouble last year who was now in the choir without a smirk.

"Please celebrate me home" we whispered and croaked, and yes, even sang, following the words in the program, "Play me one more song that I'll always remember, that I can recall whenever I find myself to all alone, I can sing me home."

That's why we teach children to make music isn't it? That's why human beings sing.

Heather Lende is the author of "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News From Small-Town Alaska." To contact Heather or read her new blog, The News From Small-Town Alaska, visit

The Valierian:

Matt McCallie is the name, teaching music is his game

By Linda Bruch

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:19 PM MST, Shelby Promoter

     If your first exposure to Montana is when the thermometer dips to an uncomfortable 25 below, you might wonder what you are doing in this place. Matt McCallie had that thought during the last cold spell. However, he knew why he was here; he was hired to do a job and he was excited to get started.

     McCallie is the new Choir Director for grades six through 12 in the Shelby School System and, while he admitted the below zero temperatures were somewhat daunting, taking over as the new choir director didn't frighten him one bit.

     "Teaching singers is such a unique experience. I really enjoy it. It's awesome to be a teacher," McCallie said. McCallie obtained his bachelor's degree in professional music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He just finished his master's degree in music education last year, graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.

     During his college years, McCallie did a lot of private tutoring, teaching voice lessons and "many different instruments," he said. He's taught everything from piano to violin and can play most of the orchestral instruments and even some band instruments. "I mostly stick with playing the string instruments," he shared, "but voice is really my specialty."

     Part of what makes teaching such a great experience for him is helping students recognize their potential as vocalists. "It's great to help them listen, hear and identify their own singing voice. Sometimes it is more than they can even imagine is possible for them," said McCallie.

     His music career or desire to embark on one, started when McCallie was just a young child. "When I was a kid, I would analyze the music I heard and the teacher doing the instructing and wonder what I would do differently to have a bigger impact on, not just me, but the other students," he offered. His love of music and his desire to improve it and himself is what keeps music at the forefront of his world. "It is something I have never been able to escape," he said.

     McCallie's first day on the job in Shelby was Jan. 21 and officially the classrooms and choirs became his on Jan. 24. So far he likes what he sees and hears with the voices ringing out from his classrooms. "The high school kids overall are just great. They have a great sound and good potential," he stated. It is McCallie's hope, as their choir director, to take those singing voices and help them realize their full potential as vocalists.

     His teaching isn't limited to just students, however. Traveling with McCallie to Montana is his best friend and companion, Mr. Muffins. Mr. Muffins is his dog and, as McCallie put it, "a breed all his own," having some Alaskan malamute, German shepherd and a few others mixed in. He does, however, have his own unique voice, which McCallie has been patiently instructing over the years. "He will sing on command," he said. Having a choir director and music tutor as his master, it would be hard to expect anything less from Mr. Muffins.

     Living in larger cities most of his life, McCallie admitted that moving to a smaller community might take a bit of getting used to. However, he has his music and now students to teach, and that is all it takes to make this man's life complete.

Photo by Brenda Hodges Matt McCallie is the new choir director at the Shelby Schools, He says he is pleased with the quality of voices and feels the students have a lot of potential. This is McCallie's first experience at living in a rural area.

Uinta County Herald:

First concert in Uinta County Concert Series big success

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 27th, 2009

BY: KIM PROFFIT, Herald Reporter

The Uinta County Concert Series kicked off the 2009 season with a bang on Friday night. For those who missed the concert featuring the popular Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band, they missed “one heck of a show,” according to Carolee Bowen, Young Musicians Executive Director.

The Davis Middle School auditorium was nearly full with a close-to-sellout crowd. Obviously, this kind of turnout thrills those who put these concerts on, but apparently the crowd was thrilled, too. Fun songs, humor and active participation came together for a wonderful evening for all those who attended.

“The band was amazingly entertaining in every way. Very funny, incredibly musical,” Bowen said.

Shupe and his band, like many other performers in past concert series, spent time with strings students of all grades during and after school, helping them with technique, generating enthusiasm for music, and, in this case, teaching new styles and techniques. Matt McCallie, strings teacher, described the educational sessions with the band: “The musical topics Ryan and his band covered exposed us to fiddle styles and techniques with which we previously had little familiarity, such as 'Texas Swing,' barn dance music, and Celtic fiddling.”

In addition to conducting workshops, Shupe and the band invited the local strings players to “share his stage,” as McCallie put it, providing a “wonderful performance opportunity for all of us.”

That performance opportunity was an exciting addition to the concert, one that parents and teachers alike loved and appreciated.

The strings players were not the only ones given the opportunity to be a part of the concert, though.

“It's not every day you see an auditorium full of people dancing to 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,'” McCallie said.

In addition to the fun and funny antics of the band, the quality of the music was high, too. For the untrained ear, it was just fun to listen to, but even the more trained ears, like McCallie's and Bowen's praised the band's abilities.

“Ryan sang clearly amidst tight four-part vocal harmonies while all of the musicians performed on various guitars, violins, basses, drums, and self-made mandolins and banjos, all expertly played,” McCallie said.

He also added, “Ryan Shupe's band played with incredible musical precision and balance.”

Coming off of the high that such a fun, energy-filled and successful concert creates, McCallie stated, “I was so very pleased to see that so many community members took advantage of this opportunity to enjoy such a high-caliber musical performance. Evanston has some wonderful music opportunities and even more great musical potential.”

His statement just about sums up the purposes of these concerts — to help students develop their musical potential, as well as exposing the community to great music.

The next concert will feature Vocal Point, on Feb. 6, and Bowen encourages all to attend, saying that she is sure that it will be just as entertaining.

Uinta County Herald:

Evanston orchestra classes may be cut

Posted: Friday, Mar 13th, 2009

BY: BECKY CRUM, Herald Reporter

Orchestra teacher Matt McCallie interacts with some of his students during a class at Evanston High School on Tuesday. McCallie was stunned to hear that the school district may be cutting his program due to budget cuts. HERALD PHOTO/Becky Crum

Due to budget cuts and scheduling difficulties to bus students between Evanston Middle School and Davis Middle School, Uinta County School District No. 1 may be cutting the orchestra classes.

The Evanston Strings Advisory Board worked several years to establish orchestra as part of an in-school curriculum and the decision to cut the orchestra classes is strongly felt by the students who are in the strings orchestra.

Matt McCallie moved to Evanston last year to instruct the strings orchestra.

“I relocated almost 800 miles from Montana last year to work here. I enjoy working here and believe the students are incredible. There are more than 100 students in our program and next year there will still be more than 100 students that will be without orchestra classes. All of these students will have to switch from a stringed instrument to band or choir,” McCallie said.

McCallie said that many of these students have played for years even though there wasn't an orchestra program here.

“It is very important to the students. It is comparable to athletes. Not all athletes want to play football or soccer. Not every musician feels comfortable playing a saxophone or a clarinet. It is a matter of giving students choices and letting them have options. What they do is a better fit for them and it will improve their overall educational experience,” McCallie said.

McCallie said that before he came to the UCSD No. 1 district there was an after school program where a teacher traveled from Utah to teach students. He said that was obviously not a problem with scheduling because it was all after school.

“We had two students make all-state. We had a bass player make all-state. This class has participated two times this year in statewide events at the University of Wyoming in Laramie,” McCallie said.

McCallie said that most of his students are also in the civic orchestra. He said they play with the adult community members.

“They performed in the Messiah this winter and in the Valentine's Day fundraiser at the machine shop. They gave an exceptional show. We heard tons of raving compliments. We even had a lady come up to us and ask if we had a CD. That is how well these students do,” McCallie said.

McCallie said there are statewide opportunities for orchestra students. He said they have made a very strong impression among the UW faculty and other string teachers in the state.

“I have received a letter from the head of the violin department about how impressed he is by the Evanston students,” McCallie said.

Discussion on the strings orchestra will be held March 24 at the UCSD No. 1 work session.

Uinta County Herald:

Civic Orchestra, Community Choir to perform Handel's Messiah

Posted: Friday, Dec 19th, 2008

Evanston Community Choir and Civic Orchestra have been rehearsing Handel's Messiah since October, with the final performance to be held Dec. 20 and 21 at Davis Middle School. HERALD PHOTO/Kim Proffit

The familiar strains of the beautiful and powerful “Hallelujah Chorus” will echo again through the auditorium at Davis Middle School this Christmas, along with the other pieces of Handel's oratorio.

The Evanston Community Choir and Civic Orchestra have been rehearsing and preparing since October for their performances of Handel's Messiah on Dec. 20 and 21 at the Davis Middle School Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Performing the famous Baroque oratorio with the well-known “Hallelujah Chorus” and amen chorus has been an every-other-year tradition since 2000 for the musical groups. This year is a special year, though, said Carolee Bowen, orchestra rehearsal director.

“The orchestral accompaniment has grown from the ground up. The string section members are all from Evanston, home grown and having gone through our programs,” she said.

In the past they have had to bring in supplemental musicians to fill the orchestra.

“This is a great thing for Evanston, and a huge accomplishment for the strings program and for the community,” Bowen said.

Matt McCallie is the rehearsal director of the Evanston Community Choir with Christine Hinckley managing the choir, and Bowen directs the Evanston Civic Orchestra, with Becky Olson acting as orchestra manager. On the night of the performance, however, guest conductor John Ribera, from Logan, will direct the united choir and orchestra of 80 total members.

The concert will feature local choir soloists, including Christine Hinckley, Jason LeVitre, Deborah Bassett, Clarissa Cole, Lisa van Langen, Deb Griffin, and Todd Bader.

The concert will be about an hour and 15 minutes long.

Live at the Library Review:


     Five MARC couples enjoyed an evening at the St. Peters Library on Monday, July 10th and they didn't read a word or even look at a book.  The Matt McCallie Orchestra entertained us nonstop for over two hours.  Actually, the space would not be able to accommodate his entire 28 piece orchestra so he brought three violins, a cello and a piccolo.  Matt played the violin and his sister added extra zip with the piccolo.

     Matt is a talented composer, maestro and singer with exceptional talent.  His repertoire included a variety of music from operatic to rock and enhanced it with an amazing voice.  There is no way to adequately describe his talent as he can be operatic or do a version of Willie Nelsons' “Always on My Mind”.  The library room was full and the entire audience raved and enticed him to overstay his allotted time.   Thanks to Don and Peggy McCallie for letting us know about this performance; it was a delightful evening.


     In 2022 reached out for an interview with questions relating to being a modern musician.

     The interview went as follows:

We were lucky to catch up with Matt McCallie recently and have shared our conversation below.

Music was never a choice; it has always been a core of my existence. Though my first memories were not musical, I do remember that within the first couple years of my life I felt a kismet. Listening to records was not enough for me, as my mother observed that while at a very early age, I was inclined to participate and correctly tapped complex rhythms on the floor in time with the music. Without being taught what to do I instinctively sang harmony parts. Music was as natural for me as most basic human functions.

Third grade got me started formally playing violin in school and I found a passion at which I excelled. Within a couple years I would listen to the classical music station on the radio during the car ride home and would play back the melodies on violin hours later from memory.

Transitioning raw talent into something more required effort in later years and I remained internally driven enough to teach myself guitar. Building from my knowledge of violin, I completed a level one guitar book overnight while in middle school. To be able to sing and play guitar was an extremely powerful goal but I had no teachers available to guide me. This learning was mostly done on my own, figuring out by listening to my favorite artists repeatedly to mentally transcribe their arpeggiations and voicings. My formal training in music only came from what was offered in school so my understanding of harmonic progressions was limited to intuition.

The next major transition for me was when my parents decided to take me out of public school after my freshman year in favor of a private school. The new school had no orchestra, so my life changed from planning to become a professional violinist to struggling to find a new musical identity. Fortunately, the new school had a very special choir director who led his classes from guitar instead of piano. The success and coolness of his teaching was inspiring, and I felt encouraged and needing to switch my focus from violin to singing while accompanying myself on guitar.

During my final three years at this high school the choir teacher never gave me any guitar lessons, but I did take private voice lessons that gave me the one-on-one instruction I needed to pinpoint my weaknesses and advance my skills. While a young teen I started playing paying gigs as a solo singer/guitar player and was often performing songs I had penned on my own. On occasion, I was also still playing violin for house parties, school events, at bluegrass festivals and other random opportunities.

Acting became an even bigger interest for a few years during high school and college but after a failed audition for Juilliard I realized that I didn't want to spend my life pretending to be other people. At that time, I was a music major at a private college in Illinois, disappointed that the repertoire was almost entirely restricted to classical music. My appreciation for the rigor of the program was satisfying but I was only in choir, not finding enough opportunities to use my developing skills as a singer/guitar player, and I still didn't know how to accomplish one of my latest interests. My appreciation for jazz was newly blossoming and I wanted to be able to sit down with a Real Book and perform songs from the Great American Songbook. Unfortunately, I could not find any teachers across two neighboring states able to provide me the instruction I desired so I knew I needed to seek a different path.

I auditioned for Berklee College of Music as a guitar player like my high school choir teacher, but I was rejected, being told that they would not accept me because I should have had years of private lessons to be a valid candidate. Desperate for the education I knew only Berklee could provide, I booked time at a local recording studio and sang a few songs while playing guitar. My hail Mary was to get in as a vocalist and this time, it worked.

During these early to middle years of college studies, becoming a successful singer/songwriter was my professional goal and I was absorbing as much of the exceptional education as possible. Sometimes my teachers would miss class because they had a gig with Michael Jackson, Shania Twain, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Nine Inch Nails, or other superstars. The knowledge and experience they imparted was everything I wanted, and I was fortunate to have developed my skills prior to attending Berklee to a level ready to impart their training. With some of my professors I was making such an impression that they were hiring me for studio sessions to perform on original songs they were shopping. One of my songwriting professors complained to me that it took him a couple days to realize a song he had stuck in his head all weekend was one I had written and performed in his class. Things were mostly going well.

But problems arose physically with some major health concerns that significantly affected my voice. Simultaneously, I fell in love and married someone who convinced me to drop out of Berklee College of Music mid-semester to move across the country where she would become my manager and help me grow my solo career from Los Angeles, CA. This journey was one of the worst mistakes of my life propelling me into bankruptcy and divorce, leaving no choice but to live in my parents' basement.

During those two tough years of legal and financial struggles, I worked between three music stores trying to fill out my schedule as a private lesson teacher. I also taught a violin class at a private school and gigged as a singer and guitar player for other artists, as a soloist, and with other small ensembles. I was navigating my vocal issues and had developed professional level chops for sure, but I was poor and lost hope in becoming a singer/songwriter.

My professional focus changed to becoming a full time, licensed public school teacher because years of teaching proved I was a very capable mentor with a sense of purpose, and I knew of no other way to potentially earn a living. I took classes mornings and nights around my teaching schedule of forty-four students a week at local colleges that would transfer back to Berklee so I could return to the college with a new degree focus, music education. It took a couple years to make it possible to return to Boston, but it was an important move and led to completing two music degrees and a variety of teaching experiences in multiple states.

What many might find odd is that my parents disapproved of my plan of action. They did not want me to pursue what I saw as the security of public-school teaching, which appealed to me since I could finally earn far more than I was teaching privately. They wanted me to move to Nashville and wait tables until I finally “made it” as a musician. But at Berklee, I talked to too many very familiar with the scene there and it sounded anything but promising to become one of thousands with the same dream. Additionally, I was very into rock and jazz with no interest in what was the world's most country focused music scene.

My return to Berklee was very focused and instead of trying to study everything available like before, I wanted to complete my degree quickly so I could get into the job field and start my career as a licensed educator. While there, I was still struggling vocally and discovered a vocal therapist nearby. The progress from studying with him was so amazing that I continued taking courses at Berklee that were going to transfer to Colorado where I was going to teach and study at a university while earning a master's degree since Berklee had no further degrees available at the time. It was worth staying in Boston for several months of intensive vocal therapy that helped me defeat years of dysphonia and gave me tools that took my abilities to places I previously only imagined.

Life again did not go as planned and after only a few more years of teaching, I found myself unemployed. The family farm outside of St. Louis again became my only refuge. I sang and played in R&B, country, rock, and funk bands, was performing at open mics six nights a week, performing with an African choir, singing, and playing guitar with some local big bands, and playing violin in pit orchestra gigs as a ringer for local high school and college orchestras. At this time, my goal again returned to becoming a solo artist, but gigging was not making a living, so I had to diversify my skillset. It became necessary to fall back on and further develop other aspects of my musical training like composition, arranging, accompanying, and playing other instruments I had learned while becoming a teacher like piano and drum set.

Just a couple months after I filed my first L.L.C. as The Matt McCallie Orchestra, my health again took a drastic turn that forever changed my life. I became crippled and again had to improvise and shift my focus. My family and I thought I might still have a chance at making a living with music, so I continued developing what became the second largest professional orchestra in St. Louis, MO.

Ten years later and my health continues to make performing increasingly difficult. Only thanks to a service dog who now hauls my equipment am I able to still perform live at all. My goal with the orchestra became finding well-paying gigs for others and the responsibility of trying to help dozens of musicians feed their families overcame my own aspirations. The expenses of such a large orchestra are far greater than its earnings. While the reputation of the orchestra's professionalism, client reviews, and live performance quality have earned some respectable titles, it has never come close to creating a legitimate full-time income for anyone, not even the director, me, who has never been paid due to the costs of running the business.

Musicians were affected by the pandemic as much as anyone, with many losing their careers. While a resounding surge has occurred in the amount of interest in live music since the shuttering ended, the music industry is also suffering from labor shortages, inflation, and supply chain issues. Doing business is no easier than it was pre-pandemic and while live music is indeed still in demand, I don't see the challenges being sustainable for much longer for my orchestra. This orchestra still requires every minute of my time and still has bookings a year and a half in advance, so the commitment is ongoing. But the amount of focus and funding I can continue to donate has to decrease. I don't know what is next but since I still have no income, it is scary. Perhaps I will be able to return my focus to original music and finally record a studio album.

About You, Your Art/Creative Works, Inspirations/Focus/mission/etc

·     For folks who may not have read about you before, can you please tell our readers about yourself, how you got into your industry/business/discipline/craft etc, what type of products/services/creative works you provide, what problems you solve for your clients and/or what you think sets you apart from others. What are you most proud of and what are the main things you want potential clients/followers/fans to know about you/your brand/your work/ etc.

Please provide as much detail as you feel relevant as this is one of the core questions where the reader will get to know about you and your brand/organization/etc.

I am the C.E.O. and director of the second largest professional orchestra in St. Louis, MO. The Matt McCallie Orchestra is the most diverse live band in the area covering over two thousand songs. We provide live bands with up to around one hundred musicians that play the latest Top 40 hits, big band jazz, Motown classics, country, classic rock, oldies, and nearly every popular style dating back to the greatest classical composers.

Clients get to customize our services using almost any budget to choose the instrumentation, duration of the performance, musical genres, and other aspects that we modify differently for every single performance. Each show is in a different location using different instruments and musicians performing different songs. We never provide the same show twice since everything is always customized to the needs of each event.

Some of our most popular options are a soloist who can sing while self-accompanying on guitar or piano. This is popular for all types of events. For wedding ceremonies our St. Louis String Quartet consists of two violins, viola and cello and performs traditional classical music from Andrea Bocelli and Mozart, country songs by artists like Taylor Swift and Shania Twain, classic rock by Queen and Led Zeppelin, jazz by Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, and Top 40 by Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran.

Our bands range from rock duos to jazz combos, high energy dance bands and augmented jazz orchestra big bands. It is amazing to hear popular music reimagined for a large orchestra that includes a lead vocalist, choir, rhythm section, winds, strings, auxiliary percussion and more. When we play songs like the Johnny Cash classic, Ring of Fire, we add more than just a couple trumpets to the band. Footloose has a strings section and Interstate Love song has a big band instrumentation.

One of the reasons there are few bands that do this is that there isn't sheet music available. The closest things one might be able to buy are for concert or marching bands that rarely include transcriptions for guitar solos, lead vocal parts, and other things the average band would need. To create what doesn't exist requires not only skills in transcription and arranging, but tremendous amounts of time. It can take months to complete the custom arrangement of even one song.

Another unique service we offer our clients is our ability to custom write arrangements of their favorite songs, which is a very popular option. Clients get to choose what instruments we use and can even customize aspects like the key signature, tempo, and length. Some even have us medley smooth transitions from one song into another. While the costs can rival the rates of hiring an entire ensemble, this is an incredibly unique one-time occurrence that makes for an incomparable gift at special events like weddings and birthday parties.

Like most bands, we also have multiple sound systems so we can provide an acoustic ensemble for small gatherings, compact P/As for officiants during weddings or smaller bands, to large systems to entertain a stadium. We also have multiple effects lighting packages with everything from pocket sized LEDs, larger moving head gobos that have built in microphones and dance to the music as our band plays, to wireless room up-lighting to make a venue look even more high class.

Not only do we offer far more musical variety than our competitors we do so with consistent authenticity and quality. Our clients expect the utmost professionalism and reliability and we have earned this reputation through years of working to deserve our wonderful reviews and awards. Instead of focusing on the artistry of our craft, we are here to serve and do our utmost to adapt to the needs of others.

Interview Questions

·     The goal of this new series is to give small business owners and creatives a place to connect with, learn from, and get inspired by their peers.

On this page, there are two more questions we'd like to have you respond to. There is a dropdown for each, please select a question in each of the two dropdowns and provide your response in the empty field/box directly below the given dropdown.

In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and an thriving creative ecosystem?

Asking what society can do to help artists like us thrive is a wonderful question. The answer is simple, to support live music. The main way is to hire musicians for gatherings that could use entertainment, and to choose singers and instrumentalists instead of DJs.

While some DJs charge less than bands, especially larger bands, playing recorded music cannot substitute for the skills and experience live talent can provide. Every live performance, no matter how accurate and similar each concert, is a unique experience between the music, the performers, and the audience. The moment can be recorded but never fully recreated. Variables like how much sleep people had, the temperature and humidity affecting the instruments, the wildly differing acoustics from one venue to another and other aspects make it impossible for everything to be precisely the same again. Live performances are always special, one-off events. And the energy of being in the same room with a blazing trumpet player, a passionate vocalist, melodic drummer, and other skilled performers literally interacts with the human body in ways a recording cannot.

A struggle for most people hiring entertainment is that they've never done it before and have no idea what to expect in terms of the services they will receive, how long musicians can play, what instrumentation they might like, what the different options will cost, or how to tell if they are going to enjoy the product. I always suggest doing homework that goes beyond picking your favorite songs. Try listening to as many samples of a band's sound as possible in multiple venues to ensure you are not hearing a studio recording so you get a better impression of how they might sound in your space. Compare their sound to that of other bands. Make sure they offer all the services you want like an extra microphone for speeches or effects lighting, and ensure they have the experience and skillset your event requires.

An example of needing to match musicians' skills is that most bar bands have no idea what is involved in traditional wedding ceremonies and receptions. Even many wedding coordinators don't know the difference between a prelude and a processional. Some bands may have never entertained fundraisers that require adapting to very specific schedules. Most bands are focused more on their art than they are at making the most of your event so read, listen, and ask questions to make sure you are getting what you need.

And while for many clients this is the most limiting factor, make sure you budget enough to remunerate the services you desire. While clients want to make sure they avoid hidden fees, entertainers also need to know in advance if you have expectations for unplanned situations like using their instruments, microphones, or other equipment. Make sure you have discussed well in advance all the logistics for their setup, soundcheck, tuning, breaks and teardown as small adjustments can make huge changes to what a bandleader might have to pay their crew.

If you want a larger band, be prepared to pay more. If you want more than just a couple hours of music, make sure you can afford it and that your musicians can play for that long. This is especially crucial for musicians whose body is their instrument like a singer, or for wind players whose embouchures could fade too early.

Communication is key to getting what you want so present informed questions and work with the artists. Musicians who have been gigging for years have likely entertained all types of audiences for many different types of events covering a variety of genres in totally different venues. Their experience can guide you to helping them sound their best and to make the most of your event.

·     Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can provide some insight – you never know who might benefit from the insight.

I have had the privilege of studying under many accomplished musicians. One of my professors was the brother of the famous folk musician, James Taylor, named Livingston. One of my favorite things that he said was that he did not expect us all to agree with everything he would teach, but there was one statement he made that I found almost ubiquitous.

What he explained was that musicians have tried doing other things, but we usually struggle, falter, transition when we attempt to have careers outside of music. His belief was that musicians are musicians because we cannot help but be musicians. Being a musician is the thing we always feel like we should be doing instead of whatever temporary status is blocking our true path.

My personal experience is that I have had to take jobs that made me miserable including hard outdoor labor like shoveling snow at 3:am for a neighborhood, working on rooftops in over hundred-degree heat, collecting and transporting trash and food waste at a summer camp, demolitions of garbage, mucking stalls, mowing yards, swamps and cesspools, gardening, and digging ditches by hand in rocky terrain. I even did a lot of odd jobs as a mechanic working on everything from rock crawler buggies to hill climbing racing motorcycles to Class 8 semi tractors. During those jobs I still had to have a guitar or violin nearby because when I wasn't working, playing music was what I was most compelled to do. Music is not a choice it is a calling.

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