Alumni Spotlight: Matthew Svec
Recent music graduate Matthew Svec, B.A. 2023, has big plans for his first year post-graduation. This spring, Matthew was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award to study at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary.
In February 2023, Carolina was named a “top-producing institution for Fulbright U.S. Students” by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. And in May, it was announced that 21 UNC-Chapel Hill students and recent graduates had been selected as recipients of this year’s Fulbright Award. Matthew joins an elite group of scholars, not only at UNC but across the world.
We caught up with Matthew to learn more about his plans for next year and what inspired him to apply for the Fulbright.
UNC Music: Tell us a little about the studies you will conduct with your Fulbright grant.
Matthew Svec: For my Fulbright, I will be enrolled in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest to study Hungarian clarinet repertoire. Most of the major Hungarian composers – think Liszt, Bartók, Kodály or Weiner to name a few – had strong ethnomusicological interests in the rich folk music traditions of the Magyar, Roma and other ethnic groups residing in Hungary. Performing this music can be vexing for non-Hungarian musicians unfamiliar with the culture. I’ll be studying both classical and folk music at the Academy to organically gain a better understanding of this idiomatic style.
UNC Music: What prompted you to apply for the Fulbright?
MS: I applied for the Fulbright to combine my loves for language and intercultural exchange with classical music. This will be my third exchange, and Hungarian will be my sixth language. Budapest is a bustling center for classical and folk music, and the Academy is one of the top performance institutions in Europe. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to grow both musically and personally!
UNC Music: What are you most excited for with you upcoming studies in Hungary?
MS: I’m most excited to study cimbalom, a dulcimer-like instrument that features prominently in folk music of the area. The Liszt Academy is one of the few places to offer instruction in the instrument!
UNC Music: What will your “final project” look like for the Fulbright?
MS: The final product of the grant will be a recital in Budapest featuring American and Hungarian repertoire. This is an interesting and important place for musical cultural exchange. Not only is this a chance to give back to the musical community for teaching me the Hungarian school of playing, but an opportunity for Hungarians to hear American music performed in the American style of clarinet playing.
Interview by Catherine Zachary, ’10