Assistant professor of voice in the Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts
Matthew Hoch is an assistant professor of voice in the Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts. He joined the music faculty at Auburn in 2012 and his primary teaching areas include applied voice, diction and opera workshop. He is also the choirmaster and minister of music at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn. Before coming to Auburn, he served as assistant professor of voice and coordinator of vocal studies at Shorter College. He maintains an active schedule as a performer and is the author of the book, "A Dictionary for the Modern Singer", which was recently released by Scarecrow Press. Outside of music, Hoch's interests and hobbies include film, art history, reading, writing, poetry and Christian liturgy. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from Ithaca College; a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School; and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance and literature from the New England Conservatory. He lives in Auburn, with his wife Theresa and their three children: Hannah, Sofie and Zachary.
1. What is your current area of research, and how did you become involved in it?
I consider myself to be a "curious generalist" within the field of vocal music. I am genuinely interested in many different aspects of singing and vocal repertoire. For this reason, "A Dictionary for the Modern Singer" was right up my alley and a perfect project for me, as I was able to tie together all of my myriad interests within the field of vocal music. But in addition to being a generalist, I have several specific areas that interest me in particular. I started out as a Richard Strauss scholar and completed a doctoral dissertation on Strauss in 2006. I recently had four peer-reviewed articles on Strauss accepted for publication in "The Journal of Singing" and "The Opera Journal"; these will be published in the fall of 2014 and early 2015 in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Strauss' birth. I am also editing a series of Strauss scores for Classical Vocal Reprints, most of which will be published in 2014 and 2015. Other current projects include two additional books, both of which are currently under contract. The first will be published by Morehouse, a division of Church Publishing, and will be an introduction to Episcopal church music. The second is another book for Rowman & Littlefield; it will be a singer's guide to the oratorio repertoire. These two books will be published in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Both of these newer projects reflect personal interests of mine and also fill a certain "gap" in the literature—there is nothing like them currently on the market.
2. What aspects of your work do you consider the most fulfilling?
One of the things that I love about Auburn University is the opportunity to wear several different hats due to the land-grant nature of the institution. The three-legged stool of teaching, research and outreach allows me to explore all three areas in a balanced way. For me, this is far more fulfilling and exciting than working for an institution that only prioritizes teaching or only cares about research, for example. I enjoy living the life of a scholar and performer while at the same time investing in my students and engaging in the local, regional and national communities. My work as a church musician also allows me to wear the fourth hat as a choral conductor. This opportunity to be well-rounded within my profession is a great fit for my personality and skill set and is probably what is most fulfilling about my work right now at Auburn University and in the Auburn community.
3. You sing at graduation, you sing at church, you travel and sing at other universities, you sing at conferences and you sing at work – is there any place on your "bucket list" to sing or perform?
I am primarily interested in doing two things: singing in places I have never sung before, but also exploring new repertoire that I have never sung before. I have a long list of places that I would like to visit and some of my goals might seem a little childish or silly. For instance, I would like to sing or lecture professionally on all six continents before my career is over—I have had engagements on four of them already: North and South America, Europe and Australia—but still have to check Asia and Africa off my list. I also have a long list of standard repertoire, including German and French song cycles, chamber music and oratorio/opera roles that I have yet to sing. Because there are so many places in the world and the vocal repertoire is so vast, my "bucket list" is truly endless! I suspect I will never be satisfied and will be working on this list for the rest of my life.
4. Your book "A Dictionary for the Modern Singer" has just been released. Who is it for, and how did it come about?
In the summer of 2011, I was approached by a senior editor from Scarecrow Press, who told me that I had been recommended by some of my senior colleagues as a possible author for "A Dictionary for the Modern Singer." The book is a one-volume reference work that is part of a larger series titled Dictionaries for the Modern Musician. When the series is complete, it will have 12 volumes, each dedicated to a different instrument and each written by a specialist who is a performer on that particular instrument.
"A Dictionary for the Modern Singer" is intended for the serious student of voice, teacher of singing or vocal enthusiast. It is essentially a comprehensive lexicon of vocal terminology related to performing, pedagogy, voice science, diction and other aspects of singing. World music and contemporary commercial music styles are covered, as well as biographies of significant and iconic singers of respective genres. There are also numerous appendices devoted to topics such as international phonetic alphabet, anatomy, the German Fach system, vocal health and repertoire lists. Five guest essays are also included, covering a wide range of additional subjects, including performance anxiety, tips for practicing and audio technology. The book has just been released and I am hopeful that it will be a practical resource that is useful to students and teachers of singing.
5. Do you have a favorite opera, choral work or musical?
I actually have a lot of favorites—far too many to mention! My favorite opera is probably a toss-up between Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier (1911) and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (1689). Not only are these works of genius, but I also have a sentimental attachment to both of these pieces. If asked to pick a favorite choral work, I would probably have to choose something by Johann Sebastian Bach since he is my favorite composer. His St Matthew Passion (1727) and B Minor Mass (1749) were staple works for me during my eight wonderful summers at the Oregon Bach Festival and hold a special place in my heart. Assuming light opera does not qualify as musical theatre—I am a huge Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiast—then my favorite musicals might be Gershwin & Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing (1931) and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel (1945). The former is great fun and quite clever, the latter is poignant and deeply moving.