ERIN GANNON ’19
This week’s Tripod Bantam Artist of the Week is not only a jack of all trades but a master of many too. Mattea Bennett ’17, a singer from Thousand Oaks, Calif. boasts an impressive academic, extracurricular, and artistic resume. The International Studies and Music double major and Religion and Chinese Language double minor is also a barista at the Underground Coffeehouse, the President of Trinity College Chapel Singers, and the Director of the Trinity College Pipes. Bennett was kind enough to take some time out of her hectic schedule to answer some questions for the Tripod.
TT: What is your primary artistic outlet?
MB : I wouldn’t say I have one specific outlet, but musician and/or singer would be the best way to describe me.
TT: How did you get started?
MB: I’ve been singing since I’ve been able to talk: I joined the San Francisco Girls’ Choir (before moving back to Los Angeles) when I was seven and have been in choir ever since — middle school, high school, and now in college. I started playing piano by learning from my family members. I’m no virtuoso but since I read music, it’s not too difficult to figure out. I picked up guitar in fifth grade, and mostly just enjoy playing now when a new song comes out. And lastly, I started playing cello in sixth grade. I did a lot of recitals and competitions in middle and high school, in addition to participating in a bunch of chamber groups and my high school orchestra (my senior year we played at Carnegie Hall).
TT: Are you studying music at Trinity?
MB: Yes, I am a music major. I originally thought I wanted to go to music school and study vocal performance, but the idea of doing opera or teaching voice the rest of my life didn’t really sound like something I would be passionate about as a career.
TT: What are your artistic goals thus far?
MB: I think really figuring out what I want to do with music is the main goal right now. I love playing music, I love singing, and I love composing, but I’m not sure if I’d be able to reach any of those to the point where I could support myself and live a stable life (the music industry is a hard and scary place). The music business is also an option, but I don’t even know where I would go with that, so I think exploring some more options in every area is going to help me get closer to figuring out if music really is what I want my career to be.
TT: What piece of yours is your favorite and why?
MB: Being the director of an a cappella group — I’ve had a lot of experience arranging songs (composing them in such a way that music from instruments isn’t needed). My sophomore year I was going through a lot and decided to go home for a week. In that week, I arranged “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran and “XO” by Beyoncé, but I’m most proud of “I See Fire.” I think this is my favorite piece because I somehow managed to channel all of the emotions I was experiencing during that time into the creativity of the chords and syllables that the group was going to sing. I recorded the arrangement into Garage Band and when I came back to campus I taught it to the group. Hearing it come to life in rehearsal…I almost cried. And then performing the song in the chapel at the end of the year was magical as it echoed through the pews. I think it meant so much because during a time when I thought I had nothing and thought I was nothing, hearing my first arrangement come to life in that rehearsal sort of made me come back to life and rediscover my passion for music and rediscover how fun life really can be, even though I’m about 3,000 miles away from home.
TT: How have you changed as an artist?
MB: As a composer, I think I’ve definitely gotten more creative. I think that just comes with practice and doing it as often as I do. Last year we had seven seniors in our group, and I arranged six out of seven senior solos along with other songs the group wanted to sing. As a musician/singer, it’s more of a hobby. I’ve tried writing my own songs, and although I think the music behind them is good, writing lyrics is definitely not my strong suit, so singing covers of popular songs is where I’ll stay for a little while.
TT: Are you currently working on anything?
MB: I am currently working on arrangements for the seniors in my a cappella group, including my own. I haven’t worked on anything of my own in a while or done any covers of songs that are popular right now, but most likely when I go home for winter break, my friend from high school (who is an amazing guitarist) and I will record a cover of something just for fun, so I guess stay tuned for that! But students should definitely come to our holiday concert at the beginning of December to not only hear what I’ve arranged for the group but also hear our amazing new members with their own solos as well (shameless plug!).
The Pipes’ next performance will be a Christmas/Holiday concert in early December, the date for which has yet to be finalized.
ERIN GANNON ’19