Matthew Sadowski to be next UC Berkeley director of bands, Cal Performances announces

Matthew Sadowski/Courtesy

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Matthew Sadowski has been appointed to UC Berkeley’s director of bands position, putting him in charge of the University of California Marching Band, or Cal Band, and the University Wind Ensemble, among other responsibilities, Cal Performances announced Tuesday.

Sadowski’s appointment follows former director of bands Robert Calonico’s retirement after 28 years of service. Following in Calonico’s footsteps, Sadowski said he so far has no plans to change course.

“When you are working with students who are as engaged and diverse as students at Berkeley are, you want to make sure you are putting on concerts that are thought-provoking (and) enjoyable,” Sadowski said.

In 2015, Sadowski obtained a Master of Music degree in wind conducting from Ithaca College, and in 2007, he received a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Michigan State University.

While he has no association with UC Berkeley, Sadowski said he heard about the opening through the College Music Society, an organization for people who teach or engage with music in college.

“Berkeley itself is a very special community with a lot of history and culture that is unique and significant in American history and world history,” Sadowski said. “Being part of an institution like this is something that’s always attracted me.”

Students emphasized the kindness and accessibility exhibited by Calonico, whom they called “Bob.” Colin Loyd, Cal Band’s public relations director, said Calonico was “always there.”

Cal Band alumna Kathy Benson recalled the first time she encountered Calonico during her audition, saying it was one of her favorite band memories.

“His welcoming demeanor, laid-back style, and love of the band evaporated my nerves and made him the perfect director,” Benson said in an email.

Students have also expressed enthusiasm for Sadowski’s arrival, citing his positive attitude and musical ability. Calonico himself said he has the “utmost confidence” in Sadowski’s abilities and that he is “sure (Sadowski) is going to do a great job.”

“He seems really motivated to get going with everything we’re doing,” Loyd said. “(We are) excited and happy to have someone replace (Calonico) who will hopefully uphold (his work).”

Sadowski emphasized his values of balancing technical skill with passion, as well as a diverse selection of pieces to be performed, as things he will bring to the position.

Loyd agreed, citing the need for a more current musical arrangement while maintaining the status quo.

“Cal Band is steeped in many traditions,” said Loyd. “I don’t envision too many changes … only different numbers of students, different songs.”

Others, however, hope for more structural adjustments. Section leader Autumn Lee advocated for more directorial involvement in Cal Band’s “straw hat band” performances, citing in an email that the current process can be “unprepared, rushed (and) lack(ing) cohesion.”

Kyle Ko, a campus University Wind Ensemble alumnus, found Calonico’s process slightly informal and therefore “chaotic.”

“I genuinely believe that (Sadowski) will do a great job,” Ko added. “Good luck.”

Contact Aarya Gupta and Anna Ho at [email protected]