Minstrel Streams

Minstrel StreamsThere are numerous examples of serendipity coming into play when musicians collaborate but sometimes the stars align in such perfect fashion that not only is a new musical entity formed but something much deeper, more personal and intense, also grows from the encounter. In the case of Matt and Rebecca Stuart, the chance circumstances of their meeting led to not just the two forming a musical duo, but also becoming life partners…and such was born Minstrel Streams. However, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? Matt Stuart grew up in Chicago and began playing the piano at the age of four. Shortly thereafter he began taking formal (classical) lessons at Northwestern University’s Conservatory of Music.
As a child, Matt’s passion for music was most easily recognized in one particular way. His parents were big movie fans, so Matt and his younger brother were treated to weekly trips to the cinema. Upon returning home, Matt would frequently plop down in front of the piano and immediately begin working out the movie’s soundtrack’s themes. Miklos Rozsa’s Ben Hur, and Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago made huge impressions on him. In high school, he added folk guitar to his musical repertoire, inspired by luminary artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and John Denver. College followed with formal studies at UCLA (including courses in film scoring and ethno-musicology).Minstrel Streams
Rebecca grew up in southern California and started her musical voyage playing flute in the fourth grade in Ventura County. She took individual lessons from two members of the Ventura County Symphony Orchestra, including its principal flutist, Bertie Atkinson. Winning awards for her playing in high school in both band and orchestra, Rebecca followed with a career in a number of bands as well as playing at numerous bookings for weddings, retreats, and as co-worship leader in the Porterville, California chapter of Aglow, Int’l. Rebecca counts the renowned James Galway as one of her most prominent influences in her music.
Now the story gets really interesting. In Rebecca’s own words. “I had started to compose a song, but needed some help with it. I played my piece for my apartment manager [and] about one month later she approached me and said, ‘Rebecca, a composer came by looking for an apartment. I think I’m Minstrel Streamssupposed to give you his card.’ I decided to call Matt Stuart. He seemed interested in composing my song and wanted to meet me that same night…a Jack In The Box® restaurant was between our apartments, [so] we met there. We exchanged our [solo] CDs and talked about the song…[and] our day jobs, learning that we were both in the field of social work and taught independent living skills to the disabled.
In fact, we both…knew many of the same people! Matt looked at me and commented, ‘You have hazel eyes like I do!’ I wondered if he was single. After going home, Matt called me and asked if I had a boyfriend, or if I was married. I told him no, and then yes to our first date. We married 6 months later and have composed many wonderful pieces of music since then!” The duo got their name through an equally serendipitous event. As Matt recalls “We were looking for a word to pair with Minstrel. We played at a church service in Squaw Valley, CA. A week later the Pastor called and said he had a word to describe our music, which was confluence – where streams flow together to form a river. He said we did this with our different instruments.”
The duo began playing together in 2008 and released their first (of four) recordings in 2009 (On Earth As It Is In Heaven), followed by Minstrel Streams (2010), and Winterpeace (2012). An obvious turning point in the duo’s career came about recently when Rebecca began a FacebookMinstrel Streams correspondence with noted producer and artist Will Ackerman (helped along by mutual friend, pianist and GRAMMY winner Laura Sullivan). Ackerman considered Matt and Rebecca proficient and talented enough that he turned the production of their new album over to the pair and leaving them in the hands of ace engineer Tom Eaton.
Recording their latest album, New Horizon, at Imaginary Road Studios and working with such notable accompanists as cellist Eugene Friesen, English horn player Jill Haley, and vocalist Noah Wilding (among others) was, in their own words, “…magical and inspired.” New Horizon will be officially released in February of 2014. Rebecca and Matt currently reside in Southern Oregon where they continue to play live in a variety of diverse venues including concert halls, wineries, art galleries and churches. When not playing or composing, Rebecca whips up delicious healthy, gourmet vegan dishes while Matt indulges his love for the detective mysteries of Tony Hillerman. The couple spends their free time enjoying the classic comedies of Abbott and Costello; and Laurel and Hardy.

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