Matthew Harden

Director for Music Ministries

Matthew Harden

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Matthew Harden is the Director for Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church Appleton.

He is the founder and artistic director of the adult chamber ensemble Madrigali et al., which is the fourth choral ensemble he has built over his career. His collegiate teaching experience includes being Director of Choral Activities at three different universities, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, The University of South Dakota and East Carolina University. In addition, he has served as Music Minister at several churches over the years. Matthew has also had the opportunity to work for the production company MidAmerica Productions, and the tour company KI Concerts, LLC.

Dr. Harden earned his doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Choral Music Education) from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, his master’s degree from Portland State University, and two bachelor’s degrees (Performance and Education) from Southern Oregon State College. His studies and degrees are in the areas of conducting, organ performance, music education, and vocal performance. He has studied conducting with Bruce Browne, Eph Ehly, Eric Ericson, Gary Hill, and Charles Robinson, and in master-class settings he has worked with Harold Decker, Eric Ericson, Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Muray Sidlin, and Dale Warland. Conducting experience has included works with band, choir and orchestra, including conducting baroque works with choir and orchestra from the keyboard. Matthew has taught private voice lessons since 1983 and worked with several singers to rehabilitate their injured voices. Many of his conducting students have gone on to complete advanced degrees and currently are successful conductors around the country.

Matthew began his conducting career at age 12 when he convinced twenty-six of his friends to form a concert band so he could conduct. In Jr. High and High School his band directors gave him the opportunity to rehearse the band, form a brass ensemble and conduct an occasional selection in concert. This continued into college where at the College of Southern Idaho he was given the chance to rehearse and conduct the band, play in the Magic Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Band. It was here that he first began to study voice as well. Leaving CSI he was set to pursue orchestra conducting, but due to a serious car accident turned his career to teaching. Matthew first position after completing his degrees at SOSC was as the Band and Choir Director at Warrenton-Hammond School District. In addition, he played in the North Coast Symphonic Band and North Coast Big Band during his time in the North Coast region of Oregon.

He founded the North Coast Chorale, now celebrating its thirty-first year of existence. Dr. Bruce Browne had a profound effect on his change of career to choral music, as he stressed as a choral conductor you will also have the opportunity to conduct works with choir and orchestra. During his time in Portland he was assistant conductor and tenor section leader for the Portland Symphonic Choir, Artistic Director for the Early Music ensemble “Sine Nomine,” and taught in various other Oregon schools for twelve years.

He has conducted choirs on tour in the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Russia and The Netherlands, and festival choirs in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and most recently the professional choir Polifonia in Lithuania. An active member of the ACDA, Chorus America, NCCO, and IFCM, he served as President of the Nebraska Choral Directors’ Association from 2011-2013.

Matthew is married to Shellie, is very proud of his three children, Tim, Noelle and CJ, and enjoys spending time with his grandson Berry.