ONCE YOU ARE WILLING TO ACQUIRE THE ART OF LEARNING, THE APPLICATIONS ARE ENDLESS. FROM EMOTIONAL REGULATION TO SELF-EXPRESSION TO SOCIAL BONDING, STEELPAN IS JUST THE CONDUIT.
QUESTION – Tell us about yourself. Who is Matthew Manifould?
Matthew M. – Well, I’m a recording/mixing engineer and musician primarily. I tend to spend a very large portion of my time doing lots to do with music, but in recent years I’ve also gotten into hiking and rock climbing largely due to my time studying and working in Banff. So, ya, friends, music, the outdoors, tends to be what I’m about!
QUESTION – How were you first introduced to the Steelpan?
Matthew M. –I was first introduced to the Steelpan when I came to Rosedale P.S. halfway through Grade 4 in 2001, I saw the group playing at school events etc, and thought “I have to get into that next year!” I had never heard of the instrument before or heard/seen it played, and I was instantly super interested.
His Majesty’s Theater Performance – AIYF 2009
QUESTION – When did you join the Toronto All Stars Steel Orchestra (TASSO)? Describe that experience.
Matthew M. – I joined TASSO after I graduated from Rosedale P.S. in 2003, though I was lucky to have gotten to perform with them while I was still in grade 6 playing percussion, specifically the triangle, for Salmon’s piece “Faces of Canada”. I felt very fortunate to be in the group, and I looked forward to rehearsals every Friday so much that I would count down the days during the week. Being a part of TASSO was my favourite thing by far in my middle and secondary school years.
QUESTION – TASSO performs internationally, bi-annually. What international tours have you participated in with the band? Describe the experience of international travel with the orchestra.
Matthew M. – I was there for the first trip the band did, to Aberdeen in 2004, as well as joining for Australia 2007, Aberdeen again in 2009, and Italy in 2011. Travelling with the band was a surreal experience that I look back on fondly, and I realize that it prepared me for a lot of things that came after in my life. Being on an international trip and being responsible for helping move the instruments, staying on a schedule and working together as a team to deliver great performances. I find things I do with my music career now that benefited directly from those experiences learning together with my bandmates and from Salmon during those trips.
Matthew chilling with the boys after a performance.
Matthew Manifould performing “Air on the G String” as part of a trio during TASSO’s tour of Sienna and Reggello, Italy.
QUESTION – What are you most proud of as it relates to Steelpan and TASSO?
Matthew M. – There are a lot of reasons to be proud of everything I was fortunate enough to do and experience with Steelpan and TASSO. The hundreds of performances in venues all over Toronto and Internationally (Massey Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, The Sydney Opera House etc) the dozens and dozens of repertoire we learned together over the 12 years I played in the band, the friends made along the way.
QUESTION –After graduating from TASSO, what post-secondary institution(s) did you attend, and what area of study did you pursue?
Matthew M. – After high school I went on to get my Bachelor of Music in Bass Performance from Humber College in Toronto with a specialization in music production. I later refined those recording skills attending Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for a year long work study program.
QUESTION – Who and what are your musical influences?
Matthew M. – Possibly the hardest question you’ve given me! I love a ton of different styles of music, and I am lucky to get hired by folks in a wide variety of genres, so I work on all kinds of music from rock to folk to jazz to classical to world music etc. Getting to work with up and coming artists, I’m lucky to hear a lot of new music that regularly influences what I do as well. But I guess to go to the start, what really inspired me to get into music in the first place was older folk/rock music.
Matthew practicing with TASSO before the Rome performance – 2011
QUESTION – As a past or present Steelpan musician and ambassador, what advice would you give to young people who may want to follow in your footsteps and use Steelpan as a conduit as they continue to acquire the art of learning?
Matthew M. – Don’t take any of your Steelpan classes for granted. Every moment in the practice room working on your Steelpan skills, is a moment you’re putting work into your future. Music, and Steelpan is such a great learning tool, and so good for the brain. Things you learn while doing pan will stay with you forever. Salmon always taught us that “Hard Work Brings Great Rewards” It would be written on the blackboard in our practice room all the time, and that’s something I keep in my head every day. I’m thankful for having that mantra drilled into me, I attribute my current work ethic, and determination to that teaching. If you find ways to apply the concepts you work on in Steelpan to what you’re interested in in other facets of your life, it will help you for sure!
QUESTION – What are you doing now?
Matthew M. – I am currently working in Toronto at Humber College Recording Studios as a staff engineer for 4th year music degree student’s final projects as well as freelance audio engineering for a wide variety of things such as record production, music mixing, live recording for broadcast, and live sound reinforcement. I spent last summer as a staff recording engineer back where I studied at the Banff Centre as well, and hopefully I can get back out there again. I also spend time working on my own music sometimes, though I’m not actively playing in any groups anymore. You can find a song of mine if you search my name on any streaming service.
TASSO Tours Italy – 2009 Sienna and Regello
TASSO performing in Florence sharing the stage with famous statues of Hercules, Menelaos, and Perseus. TASSO Italia tour, 2011.
QUESTION – What’s next for Matthew Manifould?
Matthew M. – Well, hopefully just more and more recording and music. I love making records and working on music with folks, and if I can sustain that for as long as I can, I’ll be happy!