Clark University has named Professor Matt Malsky the inaugural Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49, Endowed Chair in Music, established through a generous bequest by Sweeney that she dedicated to fostering broader music education opportunities at Clark and in the wider community.
“Tina Sweeney’s gift is a magnificent opportunity to strengthen our music programs at Clark and to engage our community around music,” Malsky said. “I’m so pleased and excited to be part of these efforts.”
As Sweeney chair, Malsky intends to help broaden the music program’s outreach and public engagement on campus and in the local community. Among his efforts to date is a Problems of Practice course, Community Music and Social Action, which involves an integral partnership with the Worcester Chamber Music Society’s award-winning Neighborhood Strings program.
“I envision using the Sweeney Endowed Chair to support a wide variety of musical activities and outreach, as well as to further my own creative activities and research — thus contributing to Clark’s efforts to engage our campus and the surrounding community through music,” Malsky said. “This is work of intellectual and creative engagement, ambitiousness and distinctiveness, and it represents the best of Clark’s values.”
Since joining the Clark faculty in 1994, Malsky has served as Associate Provost and Dean of the College, chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, director of the music program, director of the interdisciplinary Communication and Culture program, and two terms as the George N. and Selma U. Jeppson Professor of Music. He also has coordinated the Geller Jazz Series since its inception in 2014, which is supported by a generous gift from the Estate of Selma Geller. The biannual jazz concert series pairs new and emerging artists with jazz legends for concerts that attract audiences from around the region.
Since 2020, Malsky has been the director of the Higgins School of Humanities, where he has been working to expand on-campus and public engagement in the arts and humanities. Earlier this month, he was appointed director of Clark’s interdisciplinary Media, Culture, and the Arts program. He remains a member of the faculties in music and screen studies.
As a composer, Malsky has created a diverse body of musical works that have been performed and acclaimed both locally and internationally. He has released two commercial compact discs including one through the Centaur label with three string quartets, and a second with recent chamber music. GEOGRAPHIES & GEOMETRIES, an aural map of emotions, is available on PARMA Recordings with performances by the Boston-based Radius Ensemble and the Worcester Chamber Music Society (WCMS). One of these works, a duet for two violas, was called “astounding” by Gramophone Magazine. His film music runs the gamut from historically-informed scores for silent films through modern collaborations with contemporary filmmakers.
Malsky’s newest composition is “A Dill Pickle,” an evening-length chamber opera based on a short story by Katherine Mansfield. It will be performed in person (and live-streamed) on Sunday, Oct. 10, at the BrickBox Theater at the Jean McDonough Arts Center in downtown Worcester. Many of Malsky’s faculty colleagues are involved in the production, both onstage and behind the scenes. Tickets for “A Dill Pickle” will be available beginning Sunday, Aug. 15.
In addition, Malsky is at work on his second opera: “Leave Your Dignity Outside,” set in 1919, imagines a scene between four historical figures around the anarchist Emma Goldman and the notorious Chicago bohemian Dil Pickle Club.
Along with the endowed chair, Tina Sweeney’s bequest also establishes through Clark several allied programs. Her endowment creates the Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49 Scholarship for undergraduate students who major or intend to major in music; establishes the Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49 Clark University Neighborhood Children’s Music Fund, which will be used to sponsor activities and programs that promote music education and exposure for children in the Main South neighborhood; and funds the Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49 Music Concert Series for the Clark community.