Matthew Swensen, a 19 year-old, temporary Boston-area resident and vocal performance student at the Boston Conservatory, has come up with a unique way to use his talents to tackle a problem getting a lot of attention in the community lately: hunger. To that end, he will perform in an upcoming benefit for the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.
Shortly after starting his year-long program at the Conservatory last Fall, Mr. Swensen got a job singing with the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church choir and, through working with and meeting parishioners, he learned that his place of worship runs the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry. Seeing as the parish has done much for him financially, spiritually, emotionally over this past school year, the tenor felt compelled to give back. This is something Mr. Swensen says his parents always stressed, and something he feels strongly about, as he’s been given a lot of opportunities to sing, and sing well, especially since he fell severely ill (but recovered) in 2010.
Hailing from Rochester, in upstate New York, the singer told me his inspiration to do what he does comes from the fact that his parents are opera singers. He has loved his time in Boston, soaking up the history, culture and “all Boston has to offer,” after hearing great things about the city and the school attracted him to the Boston Conservatory program.
Future plans for charity work include participating as the tenor soloist in a requiem written by a friend debuting in St. Louis. This work is dedicated to victims of child abuse and domestic violence.
As for this benefit, it will feature Swensen singing a mixture of classical art songs, opera arias and songs from popular musical theatre works, such as South Pacific and Sweeney Todd. He will be accompanied by pianist Daniel Wyneken. The event will be held (after a recent change in date and time) in the church’s sanctuary this Sunday, April 29th at 3 p.m. Admission is free, though donations in the form of money or non-perishable food items are suggested. There will be baskets in the entrance for that purpose. All proceeds with go the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.
So, if you’re nearby, love music and great causes, stop by for a uniquely moving recital.
By Andrew Palmacci