Radspinner excited to be taking over as WSYO conductor

PHOTO PROVIDED Matthew Radspinner was chosen as the new conductor of the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra earlier this summer.

Music has played an integral role in Matthew Radspinner’s life for as long as he can remember.

Being raised in a family that has a deep-seated admiration for music in all its forms, Radspinner was taught to play piano by his grandmother at 8 years old, before then learning how to play the double bass as a student at Cochran Elementary School. By listening to his father, John Radspinner Jr., who is an active guitar player around the city, he developed an early love for music genres ranging from classical to blues to rock ‘n’ roll and beyond.

Nowadays, Radspinner spends his time passing that love of music on to the next generation, as an educator at Williamsport Area High School, where he teaches three curricular orchestras and directs the Williamsport Millio­naire Strolling Stripes. But his teachings aren’t just limited to the high school. At the end of June, Radspinner was also unanimously appointed as the new conductor of the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra by the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Trustees.

“I am extremely excited (to be taking over as conductor),” Rad­spinner said. “The WYSO provided an important experience for me during my most influential years. The group has a lot of meaning to me.”

Though taking on the role will no doubt be a ton of work, it is nothing Radspinner’s musical journey hasn’t prepared him for already. Through the years, he has kept himself extremely busy by teaching music education courses at Bucknell and Suquehanna University, founding the William­sport Symphony Junior Strings, and serving as assistant conductor of the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra and Central PA Youth Orchestra. He also teaches every summer at the Ohio State University String Workshop and is a full-time member of the William­sport Symphony Orchestra.

But even with a resume like his, Radspinner knows that taking over as conductor of the WYSO will provide some challenges for him.

“When you are working with busy students from a large geographical area, it is challenging to create a schedule that allows a large number of students to be involved,” Radspinner said. “It is also challenging to create an environment and experience that is conductive to a large number of students being involved.”

After graduating from Williamsport High School, Radspinner’s own musical education continued at Shenandoah, Penn State and Mansfield universities. Those collegiate experiences, along with his various other musical endeavors, helped shape him into the musical educator he is today.

“First and foremost, I enjoy teaching. I love music in general and I am passionate about it,” he said. “It speaks to me. I love sharing it with others because of what it means to me.

“As far as teaching orchestral music, I know how important my experiences have been with the WSO, Penn State Philharmonic and Penn’s Woods Festival Orchestra,” added Radspinner. “To be able to provide these experiences for students is an honor.”

Though his musical prowess is undeniable, what truly allows Radspinner to stand out as a music instructor is the rapport he is able to build with his students.

“Building relationships with students is one of my favorite things about teaching,” said Radspinner. “I think I am able to do that because I take a genuine interest in their lives outside of the orchestra. I want to know about their families and other activities in their lives that have meaning to them. When you build that relationship and trust, the teaching happens organically and the music making is much easier.”

With auditions for the WYSO’s 2018-19 season set to get underway on Sept. 9 at the Williamsport High School auditorium, Radspinner said he can’t wait to finally get the ball rolling as conductor of the youth orchestra.

“I’m not nervous at all,” he said. “Just excited to get started.”

Those interested in scheduling an audition for the WSYO, contact Radspinner at mradspin@wasd.org or call the WSO office at 570-322-0227.