From a membership standpoint, just about the coolest scenario one can imagine is for a “Sing, Sing, Sing!” guy to share his own experience with Northwest Sound to bring someone else in for the next round. That’s exactly the scenario that brought us one of our power cohort of new “Sing, Sing, Sing!” baritones, Matt Astle (pronounced ASS-tull, with the “t”).
You may remember David Martin, a baritone from one of our earlier “Sing, Sing, Sing!” classes. David isn’t active now, but this past fall he posted something on his Facebook page apprising his friends about the upcoming “Sing, Sing, Sing!” program. His friends include Matt, a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Bellevue. Matt decided to take a chance, and look what happened. In his first outing with us he sang the solo in “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”
In Matt we have yet another experienced musician making his first foray into the world of barbershop. He’s been playing the piano since age five, played oboe in high school, majored in music (and public relations—the first major was passion, the second practical) and sang in choirs at BYU and with the Mormon Choir of Washington, DC, performed in Carnegie Hall, and even directed and arranged songs for his law school coed acappella group (yes, there actually are such things), Scales of Justice, at Harvard.
Matt is from Salt Lake City but lived in northern Virginia near Washington, DC, for about a decade after college, with three Boston years at Harvard along the way. (He’d also done two years of missionary work in Brazil in the middle of his college years.)
Before law school he worked for a couple of years with performing arts organizations in DC, and he put this background to use in law school by learning intellectual property law and even working for a summer with the National Endowment for the Arts. He then practiced in this area of law with a DC firm, dealing with things like copyright issues with webcasting and ringtones (chapter librarian Bryan Ayers, webcaster Adrian Leontovich, and webmaster Evan Kutter, take note!), before making the move here to Microsoft just this past July to become part of the company’s in-house team.
Matt met his wife Shelly in DC when she was working on the Hill for a Senator. While he was studying law in Massachusetts Shelly got a job as speechwriter for the then-governor, some guy by the name of Mitt Romney. Shelly’s now a stay-at-home mom with their three daughters, Ellie, 6, Annie, 4, and Leah, 2.
The best part of this whole story is great news for those of us who saw Fergie’s e-mail a few weeks ago asking for us to keep Matt and Shelly in our thoughts as they were dealing with a difficult outlook for their fourth pregnancy. As it turns out, after a whole lot of medical care, Shelly’s sheer determination, and prayers and support from friends and family, they now are joyfully awaiting the arrival of their fourth daughter in June! As Matt says, the Astles could have a whole future Sweet Adelines quartet.
Of all his musical experiences, Matt says there have been only two places where he’s encountered a consistent dedication to the finer nuances of sound production: his graduate level music courses and Northwest Sound. Not bad. Matt says he’s not sure he’s quite as “obsessed” with barbershop as some of his chorus mates. But here’s a guy who could advance that dedication to the finer points. We’ll work on advancing the obsession.