Musician to come home to Butler County for the holidays
Elizabeth Matchett Freimuth is returning home for the holidays, but this year's trip is particularly special for the Zelienople native.
Freimuth, principal French horn player for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, will be the guest artist at the Butler County Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Traditions concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Butler Intermediate High School auditorium.
There will be a special matinee at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School intended to reach out to Butler County's southern audience, said conductor Matthew Kraemer.
Playing at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School will be nostalgic for Freimuth, 39, who is a 1992 Seneca Valley graduate.
“That was my high school. I played band concerts on that stage ... and now I'm going to play a Mozart concerto on that stage,” she said. “It's so cool.”
Freimuth is the daughter of Robert Matchett Jr., retired Seneca Valley band director, and sister of Robert Matchett III, the current Seneca Valley band director. To say music runs in the family is an understatement.
“My father was my first horn teacher; he started me on it,” Freimuth said. “I was definitely surrounded by music. It was just kind of part of my family's culture.”
Kraemer said the Butler County Symphony Orchestra has been trying to get Freimuth to perform in Butler for a number of years and officials are thrilled that she is finally coming.
“Elizabeth is extremely talented, and what a career she's made for herself,” Kraemer said. “The name is recognized very well in Butler.”
Freimuth began playing piano when she was 4 through the Suzuki method, a training program that focuses on ear training. She started playing horn when she was 10.
The decision to pursue a career in music occurrred in 1991 after Freimuth spent a summer at the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, a five-week academy for gifted high school students.
“Just having the opportunity to dive a little deeper into what a music school environment would be like and playing chamber music for the first time and playing with strings for the first time,” she said. “I came home from camp saying, ‘I can't live without this.'”
She attended college at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and got her master's in music at Rice University in Houston.
Before landing the position as principal French horn with the Cincinnati Symphony eight years ago, Freimuth played with orchestras in Kansas, Colorado and San Francisco.
She now calls Cincinnati home. She settled in a rural area outside the city with her husband of 15 years, Ben Freimuth, clarinetist with the symphony, and their 2-year-old daughter. She's expecting another child in February.
She visits her family in Butler County a few times a year, but this year's holiday homecoming has been especially well-received by many old friends and acquaintances.
“The response that I've gotten on Facebook and through email and phone calls from people I graduated high school with or went to church with, saying, ‘Oh, I got tickets,' ” Freimuth said.
“It's so neat... It's very exciting for my family as well.”
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.