SHU community theater welcomes new director

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FAIRFIELD, Connecticut — He plays a variety of instruments and writes and produces music. He has worked with artists such as Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Alicia Keys. He has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater in New York. Recently he recorded all of the music for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a job he held for several years.

This is Matt Oestreicher and he is the new director of the Sacred Heart University Community Theater in Fairfield.

The 46-year-old native and resident of Fairfield started working in the theater a few months ago. He is excited to bring his vision, along with world-class acts, educational opportunities and films, to the downtown Fairfield establishment, a place he frequented as a child.

While busy running the theater, he spent two days outdoors pre-recording the music for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. “I’ve been doing this since 2017,” he said. “I am part of the basic musical team for the parade.”

During these two days, Oestreicher and a group of producers and musicians spent hours in a recording studio. They have collaborated with a number of musicians, from Broadway artists to seasoned pop singers and singers. Performers walked in and out of the studio, sometimes with prepared music and sometimes not. For those who have not brought music, Oestreicher and his team have put together something on site. The team was led by the ABC Dancing with the starsmusical director, Ray Chew.

“It’s a very stressful situation,” Oestreicher said. “The songs will be heard by millions of people on the day of the parade. ”

This experience, among others, helps Oestreicher in his new role as SHU. He works quickly and efficiently and sees every challenge as an opportunity. He looks forward to bringing groups he has worked with in previous positions to the theater for the Fairfield community to experience. He said he was eager for the theater, a dynamic and professional place, to play a role in the lives of SHU students and the community at large.

Growing Up With Music

Oestreicher started taking guitar and piano lessons at a very young age. He performed in groups with friends, and in high school he began to bring his talents to clubs and music halls. At the Connecticut All State Music Awards, he won first place for piano and second place for guitar.

“I was really lucky to have parents who nurtured me throughout my musical endeavors,” Oestreicher said. He remembers going with them to see Broadway shows, exposing Oestreicher and his siblings to the power of art and its ability to unite people. “This is the raison d’être of life… art gives you that connection with the world at large,” he said.

While Oestreicher’s parents helped him appreciate art and all of its forms, they still wanted him to get a college education and have something to fall back on in case his musical career didn’t end. would not unfold. He received a Bachelor of Philosophy from Tufts University in Medford, MA, and a Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. After college, he was deeply absorbed in Eastern Chinese philosophy and immersed himself in meditation and yoga for four years.

“I really focused on finding a deeper understanding and meaning in life,” Oestreicher said.

Eventually he switched to a slightly more traditional way of life with his first musical concert, playing on cruise ships. “It was a great way to travel and see the world,” he said.

After this stint, he returned to Fairfield to be with his family. He started playing in local venues and making connections with emerging groups. Oestreicher eventually joined the Chester French group which was signed to the Interscope label. They have toured the country with artists such as Lady Gaga, Blink 182, Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes.

“In addition to playing an instrument for the artists I have worked with, I have always had several roles, whether producing, arranging, writing or contracting,” Oestreicher said. “Chester French was a very savvy band as they were one of the last bands to get a major recording deal and the very first group on Facebook.”

The members of Chester French attended Harvard University with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and that’s how they got connected to Facebook. The group often had people like Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, an American entrepreneur, and other tech leaders in their social circle or on their tour bus.

“Participating and hearing conversations with these young visionaries showed me a different view of the world,” Oestreicher said. “These people had the desire to change the world, and they believed they could. I grew up thinking that I had to adapt to a certain role, and I met people and made friends who had a totally different belief system. It made me discover another level of opportunity.

After several years on the road of tours, Oestreicher reconnects with his philosophical side. He spent time in India and eventually moved to Maui, HI, where he became the personal assistant to Ram Dass, a spiritual leader and author of the popular book, Be here now.

In 2011, Oestreicher returned to Connecticut and was hired on the music team at the Apollo Theater in New York City. His work at the Apollo has taken him to work on several television and Broadway productions as well as events such as the Mars Rover landing and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. He formed a production company which allowed him to offer all of his creative skills that he acquired on these productions.

“My affiliation with Apollo shaped my mission for the SHU Community Theater,” Oestreicher said. “The Apollo is such an inclusive place, and we want to bring that same feeling to the Community Theater.”

Living in different places around the world, going on tours and meeting people with different life experiences, helped Oestreicher transform into a citizen of the world.

“I want to bring the world to community theater and allow people in the community to experience things that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see,” he said. “I want to create works that inspire and give young people a great experience. “

In a way, Oestreicher merges his philosophical and artistic sides to help the community explore, learn and absorb more culture. “I want them to gain real experience in the arts, and we’re fortunate to have a world-class theater where we can do just that.”

To learn more, visit SHU Community Theater website.

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About the University of the Sacred Heart

As the second largest independent Catholic university in New England and one of the most dynamic in the United States, the University of the Sacred Heart is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. . SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs at its Fairfield, Connecticut campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. Over 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; communication, media and the arts; social work; computer science and engineering; Health professions; Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Dr. Susan L. Davis, RN, & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and the Saint-Vincent College. The Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions because it was created and run by lay people. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time encourages students to be forward-thinking thinkers who implement changes – in their own lives, in their professions and in their communities. . The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 387 colleges – 2022 edition, “Best Northeast” and Best Business Schools – 2021 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning NPR affiliate radio station WSHU, a Division I track and field program, and an impressive performing arts program that includes a choir, orchestra, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu


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