Press-Republican

July 4, 2013

Teen embarks on European concert tour

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Though singing is just one of Xenia Matthews’s many talents, it happens to be the one that has earned her a trip to Europe.

The Plattsburgh High School freshman has been selected to participate in this summer’s Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus European Concert Tour.

The prestigious music program gives talented high-school and college musicians and vocalists from across the nation the opportunity to travel abroad and perform in some of Europe’s finest concert halls.

“We’re going to six countries, and we’re doing nine concerts,” said Matthews, who was invited to audition for the Honor Chorus after performing in the Area All-State Women’s Chorus this winter.

‘VERY EXCITED’

Shortly after submitting her audition tape, the 15-year-old received word that she had made the cut and would be spending much of July singing and exploring in Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

“She was very excited; she was jumping up and down,” said her mother, Crystal Price, adding that Matthews even asked her 11-year-old brother, Landis, to film her opening her acceptance letter.

Matthews and her chorus mates were scheduled to kick off the program on June 29 at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., with four days of rehearsals and two Bon Voyage concert performances before embarking on their three-week European tour today.

REQUIRED SONGS, COST

Before arriving in Elizabethtown, Matthews was expected to memorize 13 songs for the tour, many of which are in different languages, including Latin and French.

“I try to sing them every day, so I don’t forget anything,” she said.

Price noted, however, that her daughter actually learned the songs in just two days and would even set several daily alarms to remind herself to practice.

Matthews and Price, along with a member of their church, hosted several fundraisers to help offset the nearly $7,000 needed for Matthews to take part in the tour.

They were able to raise about $2,000 via bake sales, mail solicitations and a nachos fundraiser, as well as a live singing performance Matthews gave at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts.

WRITES SONGS

Matthews’s love of song began at an early age, according to Price, who recalled singing to her daughter as a toddler at bedtime.

“I would sing to her, and then she would fall asleep,” Price said. ‘And I’d fall asleep, and as soon as I’d stop singing, she’d wake up and say, ‘Sing!’”

In addition to performing material for the various choruses she participates in, Matthews also creates and records her own music, using a program on her computer to generate sounds and arrange them into songs.

“Everyone says my music sounds like a video game,” she said.

Matthews writes lyrics for much of her music but hasn’t included vocals on many of the recordings because she doesn’t have a quality microphone.

While her songs generally employ a lot of synth pads and horns, she noted, they are all quite different from each other and cover a range of genres, including jazz, acoustic, R&B and pop.

“I would do an album if my music didn’t change so much,” Matthews said.

The teen did, in fact, record a few of her songs at a recording studio, but is not happy with how they turned out.

“She’s very critical of herself,” Price said.

“It’s because I will not settle for less,” Matthews replied.

SMART, CREATIVE

When she’s not singing or working on her music, Matthews, who was enrolled in 10th-grade science and math classes as a freshman and finished the year with a GPA of about 95, somehow finds time to devote to a myriad of other interests.

“I like to paint, and I like to draw.

“I would describe it (my art) as big-headed cartoon characters with huge eyes or really small eyes, just, like, really unrealistic things,” she said.

Matthews also writes fan fiction for the television shows “Glee” and “White Collar,” likes to make cupcakes and loves to study biology.

“She’s a great photographer, too,” Price said.

“I usually take pictures of a lot of flowers because every time I try to take pictures of something alive, it runs away from me,” Matthews said.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com

LISTEN, GIVE Those interested in listening to Xenia Matthews's musical creations can do so online at soundcloud.com/xanthangummies. And tax-deductible donations to help cover her travel costs for the Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus European Concert Tour may be made until Aug. 1. Checks made payable to "Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus Summer Music Program" with the word "donation" on the memo line can be mailed to: Crystal Price, 12 Tiffany Way, Plattsburgh, NY 12901.