Musician Spotlight: Matthew Karr

Art + Music with Matt Karr

As a child, I was surrounded by music. My mother, Annora Sue Karr was a professional soprano. She frequently gave recitals in the Toledo Museum of Art and sang solos with the Toledo Symphony. My father, Samuel, played the French horn. There were professional musicians in our home quite frequently. So it was only natural that my younger brothers and I took up instruments.  My parents started me on the piano, but I fell in love with the clarinet. I showed enough aptitude, that my High School band director suggested (forced) me to switch over to the bassoon.

I learned to play the bassoon, fell in love with it, and entered the Oberlin Conservatory in 1974. While I was studying music at Oberlin, I heard about a fabulous Art History Professor there and began enrolling in his courses. He was incredibly passionate about his subject and his students became completely absorbed. First I studied Italian Renaissance Art, then Northern Italian Art, Modern Art and an entire semester on Van Gogh! I accumulated enough credits to accidentally graduate with a minor in Art History!

I love working with my hands. My father had a basement workshop in our family home. I enjoyed spending time with him doing home repair and some basic construction. I didn’t realize that someday I would become excited by design, and ultimately, furniture design.  I enjoy building furniture that is functional, but also simple and elegant! My brother Joel is an Architect, so the design bug must be in our family DNA!

I’m very lucky. I get to sit in the middle of a glorious, enormous, breathing organism: a Symphony Orchestra! I’ve learned to live and breathe with Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, and Stravinsky in my veins!  I get to play in the Louisville Orchestra with my wife, Kathy Karr too! It has been an honor to have the opportunity to work with these talented musicians, and serve our community for almost 40 years!

My music making is so fleeting, moving, spiritual, and then suddenly disappearing into memory. But my furniture building is permanent, solid, a legacy. I enjoy a wonderful balance, the inanimate and the animate!

~Matt Karr