Equal parts performer, producer, composer, and educator, Matt Curlee is the founder and creative director of Third Strand Music, a musical think-tank/factory-floor dedicated to the creation of moving and forward-looking works through the power of collaboration. Third Strand is a family of composers/arrangers, songwriters, session players, and producers who marshal the collective power of their right brains for projects with independent musicians and songwriters, filmmakers, visual artists, really anyone with a great idea. Through a journey that included two stints as a student at the Eastman School of Music, and an international touring and recording career as a classical artist, Matt eventually found his true passion in creative partnerships with the people he loved. At the age of 19, Matt was one of the youngest musicians ever to win the Grand Prix de Chartres, considered by many at the time to be the most prestigious organ competition in the world. After some time touring as a solo artist, Matt began to struggle to assemble his diverse musical influences and skills into something that was a better fit. In the jazz-fusion outfit NEOS, Matt brought together his background in contemporary, groove-driven music and as a composer with his organ career, joining with four other musicians for several years of successful music-making, and a record entitled Mackerel Sky, lauded by one reviewer as “truly worthy of a Grammy.”
Matt’s continual creative exploration eventually led him into the realm of songwriting, of composition and arranging for film, tv, and multimedia applications, and as a producer, mentoring independent musicians and songwriters through the process of developing and recording their music. Along with creative partner, singer-songwriter Mandy Elliot, he writes for and leads the band Room4One, the new-music vehicle of Third Strand Music, a flexible group that can range in size from just its two founders to a full band, depending on the project at hand. An instructor in the theory department at the Eastman School of Music, as well as Rochester Contemporary School of Music, Matt has a special love for teaching upcoming musicians in a highly musical way. Matt lives in Rochester with his brilliant and vivacious border collie Francie, and at night sleeps only 20 feet from his studio.