Living Room Series Finale: Q&A with Matthew Roitstein, Associate Principal Flute

Living Room Series Finale: Q&A with Matthew Roitstein, Associate Principal Flute

On Friday, June 26, Houston Symphony musician Matthew Roitstein, associate principal flute, performs the finale to the Living Room Series—a weekly livestream concert series showcasing the individual talents of Symphony musicians.

Many performed their concert with musically talented loved ones, but Matthew’s concert features the biggest family ensemble of the series. Matthew discusses what it’s like perform as a family, including a piece composed by his father.

The family, from left to right: Matthew Roitstein, Andrew Roitstein, Rosy Sackstein, David Roitstein, Alina Roitstein, and Trevor Anderies.

Tell us about your musical family. How did you get started on your path to music?
I got my start on the flute with my mom, Rosy Sackstein, who has a thriving private flute and piano teaching studio in Valencia, California. My dad, David Roitstein, is a composer and pianist, and he is on the faculty of California Institute of the Arts. My twin brother, Andrew, is a bass player in New York City who works for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and plays with his award-winning chamber group, Toomai String Quintet. Andrew wasn’t able to make it from the East Coast to join us for this concert, but we are excited to play an arrangement of his on this program! My younger sister, Alina, is a singer with an incredibly versatile range of styles and repertoire. My brother-in-law, Trevor Anderies, is a highly accomplished drummer and composer. In addition to playing drums on this program, Trevor is also working closely with Houston Symphony recording engineer Brad Sayles to help us with the technical aspects of recording this concert!

Matthew performing with his father, David, a pianist and composer.

How often do you perform together as a family?
Playing music together as a family was a regular event for us throughout my childhood, whether in performance or just casually at home. My late grandmother, Rosalina Sackstein, used to produce an annual spring concert in which we would all participate as a fundraiser for student scholarships to the University of Miami School of Music, where she was a piano professor for 50 years. We still love collaborating as often as we can, but it is less frequent now that we don’t all live in the same place.

Your father composed one of the selections on the program: “Duo for Flute and Piano,” which you’ll perform together. What does it mean to you to play music written by a family member?
My dad’s “Duo for Flute and Piano” is so special to me. I’ve known it my entire life—my dad wrote it for my mom two years before I was born. As a kid, I loved watching my parents making music together, and I feel so fortunate to be playing this piece with my dad now, especially in the same week as Father’s Day! We have done it together a few times, including recording it together in 2008 for a CD of my dad’s chamber music.

Are there any other pieces you’re particularly looking forward to on Friday?
Many of the pieces on this program are longtime favorites of mine, like the Fauré “Fantaisie.” I’m also excited to play the Bach and Roussel with my sister for the first time. I always love opportunities to play the alto flute, so I’m looking forward to highlighting the sound of that instrument on both John Coltrane’s “After the Rain” and Léa Freire’s “Mamulengo,” which are both family favorites.

Watch the finale of the Living Room Series! Get tickets for the livestream concert with Matthew Roitstein on Friday, June 26.

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