Graduating senior Matt Podniesinski is the epitome of a student of arts and sciences. As a double major in biology and biochemistry, Podniesinski certainly has a demonstrated passion for the sciences; but with his heavy involvement in Tufts Music, his musical passions and talents cannot be overlooked. Since his first year at Tufts, Podniesinski has taken part in myriad ensembles, where he has held the roles of clarinetist and pianist.
“I have been involved in several ensembles at Tufts, including Tufts Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Tufts Chamber Orchestra, the Klezmer Ensemble and I did Wind Ensemble. I also did a bunch of chamber groups,” Podniesinski said. Podniesinski emphasized his experience in TSO in particular, describing it as a “unique community of amateur musicians.”
Podniesinski traveled to Costa Rica in 2018 and Italy in 2020 with TSO and considers these trips to be some highlights of his experience with music at Tufts. “The orchestra trips were incredibly fun, and that was where I got to meet a lot of people that I would become friends with later on,” he said.
This past January, Podniesinski won the Tufts Concerto Competition with a rendition of Claude Debussy’s “Premiere Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Orchestra” (1910), which he was to perform with TSO during its Spring Concert, which was canceled this year.
“I was honestly a bit surprised that I won, but it was really exciting — until it wasn’t, and I realized it wasn’t really going to happen … I was so excited to finally play some Debussy in orchestra,” Podniesinski, a Debussy aficionado, said.
Other than TSO, Podniesinski spent time reminiscing about his time as a musician in the Jumbo Knish Factory, a university ensemble that performs traditional Jewish and non-Jewish folk music, primarily from Eastern Europe and Russia.
“I was one of like three Jewish kids in my grade [in high school], so it was exciting to come to Tufts and be a part of the Klezmer Ensemble and reconnect with that heritage a bit … it was interesting because I was able to expose myself to a really unique genre of music that I feel like is really hard to access, especially where I come from — Pennsylvania is not really a Jewish hotspot,” he said.
Podniesinski also commented on the community he found in Tufts Music.
“Being involved in music was a really important social scene for me,” Podniesinski said. “In terms of personal development, it was gaining that network of the music nerds, as much as I can actually call myself that. I think in terms of a more academic development, I had the opportunity to participate in some really cool and unique ensembles.”
Optimistic about his future, and looking forward to adopting a cat for his new apartment in Cambridge, Podniesinski does not see his graduation from Tufts as an end to his musical career.
“I have been trying to start looking into community ensembles that I can join. I know that there is a Cambridge wind ensemble, and I am hoping that I can still take lessons,” Podniesinski said. “I am still practicing a bunch, and I am hoping that possibly in the fall, since I am living in the area and I am still practicing, that maybe I could actually play the Debussy in the upcoming school year … but we will see.”
Podniesinski hopes to eventually go to graduate school, but is undecided as to whether he will study science or music.