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TEXAS BANDMASTERS HALL OF FAME
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Larry Matysiak - Class of 2018
 

Larry Matysiak grew up in La Porte, Texas, the son of Louis and Esther Matysiak.
His mother’s family had lived in La Porte since the early 1900’s and his father was raised in Baytown, Texas. Larry’s grandfather and great uncles founded the first La Porte Community Band in the 1920’s. His parents were his biggest supporters in all facets of his life.

Larry began his musical journey in sixth grade. He began on clarinet but quickly switched to bass clarinet when it was offered in 7
th grade. He was fortunate to join the band when it was growing under the leadership of Henry Einfeldt, Larry Nesvadba and Milton Catalina. As Larry remembers, “The major turning point in my career and life happened when Tom Easton was hired as assistant director of the La Porte High School band. Mr. Easton was hired to develop the clarinet section. He taught us for free many nights and became my mentor. Mr. Easton heard me play and asked if I made region band. I laughed and said absolutely not. He told me, ‘Do what I tell you and you will make region and possibly state the next year.” With little success in band during his freshman and sophomore years, Larry went from last chair to first chair all-region the following year. He was selected to the TMEA All-State Band in 1971. Tom Easton continued to be his mentor and friend throughout his teaching career. That same year the La Porte High School band placed second in the TMEA Honor Band competition, under the leadership of Larry Nesvadba. These two events led to scholarship opportunities.

Larry attended the University of Houston from 1971-1976. He performed in the wind ensemble under James T. Matthews and the marching band under Bill Moffitt. During this time he also taught privately at La Porte High School, three nights a week. He views the time in the University of Houston Wind Ensemble and teaching privately as the cornerstones of his college music education. However, the most important event was meeting Mary Kingsley his senior year at the University of Houston. Larry states, “Mary was an outstanding oboist, organist and academic student. She was the only girl I ever asked out that I did not know. Luckily for me she said yes.” They were married in 1977.

Larry began his teaching career at Angleton High School from 1976-1977. His third band was one of only two bands in that classification to receive first divisions at UIL. This was important as it drew the attention of Mr. David Lambert, the new head director of Dulles High School. He remembers having an interview in an instrument storage room one day and being on the field teaching the next.

The Dulles job was a perfect fit. David Lambert was the (old guy) of 27 years. They were all young directors in a large band program of over 300 students. Team-teaching was the way they learned and survived. It was the rule of the day. Larry quickly formed a bond with the other two young assistants, Richard Cammack, a great clarinetist, and Becky Bower, who was already at Dulles. Later, Bill Duggan was added at the high school to complete the team. During his tenure at Dulles, his bands earned sweepstakes awards and were awarded Best In Class at numerous Six Flags Music Festivals. Larry served as assistant band director at Dulles from 1977-1983.

In 1983, Larry was offered the head band director position at the new Clements High School. He accepted the position and started looking for the right assistant. He was fortunate that Steve Richardson, a master teacher who had been a principal, had decided to get back into band directing. Mr. Richardson’s bands at Santa Fe were legendary, so Larry hired him immediately. He was able to learn from one of the finest band directors while he was learning to be a head director.

The next few years brought rapid success to the Clements High School band. With the help of David Lambert, the new Director of Fine Arts and mentors from the University of Houston, the Clements Band flourished. Larry was fortunate to work with many outstanding assistants and fine arts teachers while at Clements. He hired former students as private teachers and assistant band directors. These included Ginger Meralce (Wolfe), Robert Ripley, Jeff Johnson and Christie Vohs. He was fortunate in 1988 to hire master teacher and college friend Rick Yancey. Rick pushed him to attempt harder programs and try to take the band to the next level. They knew he would only be an assistant for a year, but they decided to have fun together and push it as far as it would go.

During his tenure, the Clements Band received 22 consecutive UIL Sweepstakes awards. They were selected Best In Class at numerous festivals and represented TMEA Region 17 consistently as Region 17 Honor Band. This culminated with the band being selected as the TMEA State Honor Band in 1994. They were selected to the Mid-West Clinic Convention in 1995. This was special as Larry’s son John played first clarinet in the band. The Clements Band also received The Sudler Flag of Honor from the Sousa Foundation. That same year Larry was selected as Teacher of the Year at Clements High School and finalist for Fort Bend ISD Teacher of the Year. This meant a lot to him as he suddenly found himself involved in committees on campus that helped shape the success of the school. From then on he realized the importance of involvement with all aspects of the school district.

A big believer in high school symphony orchestra, Larry helped organize the first Clements Symphony Orchestra with Michael Fleming. Later, under the direction of Larry and Penny Meitz, the symphony orchestra performed at the Mid-West Clinic in 2000 and was selected as the TMEA Honor Symphony Orchestra. The Clements Symphonic Band also placed third in TMEA Honor Band competition that year. This had an added bonus of his daughter Laura (an all-state horn player) as a member of the group. Larry states, “On the heels of the honor orchestra performance in 2001, the Clements Symphonic Band played at Carnegie Hall the same year. It was only five months after 9/11 and we were one of the first groups allowed to drive by ground zero. It was an incredibly moving experience.”

The Clements Marching Band continued to be successful. The band received a first division at UIL every year from 1983 to present day. The Clements Marching Band was selected to UIL State Marching Contest four times under Larry’s direction. In 2002 Larry was able to hire Daniel Galloway and Jeff Johnson. This formed a complete team for expertise in both marching and concert. Larry states, “These assistants had so much ownership in the program I felt we had the perfect balance of expertise and personalities on our staff. “ The result was the Clements Marching Band being selected to UIL State Marching Finals in 2004.

In 2006, Larry became the Director of Fine Arts for the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. He oversaw the largest fine arts staff in the state of Texas. During his tenure there the staffing increased every year. The orchestra program doubled in size and the district was recognized by NAMM as an exemplary school district for fine arts. Ensembles from the district received TMEA Honor status as well as multiple awards. Larry remembers, “The position was the perfect fit for me. They wanted me in the classroom as a mentor 50 percent of the time as well as hiring the music staff. The best part was all the schools were on the same page in regards to fundamentals and curriculum. This was largely due to my predecessors, John Scarcella and Bill Quillen.” Mr. Matysiak was fortunate to work with quality associates Mary Running (instrumental), Tammy Patterson (choir), and Tim Estelle (theatre and dance.)

In 2008, Larry received the Outstanding Alumni Award from The Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. He also became involved as a co-founder of the Houston Arts Partners. This organization combined all the professional arts groups in Houston to promote fine arts education in the Houston area. He served as chairman of their conference in 2013.

After 39 years in public education, Larry retired in 2014. He currently serves as a band clinician for several schools, presents in-services to school districts and has presented clinics at the Texas Bandmasters Association annual convention. In 2016, he and Rick Yancey, formed the Sugar Land Winds. This is a group of band directors and musicians in the Sugar Land and Houston areas. They performed at the 2018 Texas Bandmasters Association clinic.

Being selected for the Phi Beta Mu Texas Bandmaster Hall of Fame is a culmination of Larry Matyiak’s successful career. He states, “I wish to dedicate this award to all my teachers, associates and students who have done so much for me along the way. Mostly, I wish to dedicate it to my family, who has been such a big part of my career. My wife Mary was always my biggest supporter during my life and my career. I feel my biggest accomplishment was to have my son John and daughter Laura in the Clements Band.
Both accomplished musicians, drum majors, and leaders, sharing that time and learning from them was the highlight of my teaching career. They have continued to bless me with spouses Michelle Matysiak, A. J. Yoakum and four grandchildren, Mason and Mia Matysiak, and Charlotte and Jamie Yoakum. Mary and I plan to continue to give them the gift of music.”


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