by Dara Tucker
Tony Award-nominated composer and WHS alum Mr. Matthew Sklar recently arranged and adapted music for a PBS documentary called “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love” as a part of the network’s American Masters series. Marvin Hamlisch acted not only as a personal mentor to Sklar but was also a world-renowned musician.
According to pbs.org, the documentary, which premiered on Dec. 27, details the life of Hamlisch, one of only two people to win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. (The other was Richard Rodgers, according to masterworksbroadway.com.) Hamlisch composed a variety of material throughout his lifetime, including award-winning scores for The Sting and A Chorus Line.
Sklar said that he first met Hamlisch on his fifteenth birthday when Hamlisch held a benefit concert and invited Sklar to perform with him at the Union County Performing Arts Center. After that, the two kept in touch, with Hamlisch providing advice and acting as a mentor for Sklar.
Said Sklar: “Marvin’s music has always been a big part of my life and he was so important to me personally. He taught me the importance of melody and writing from the heart.”
Sklar graduated from WHS in 1991. He said that he got his start writing songs at age 11. He had his first song performed when he was a student at EIS as a member of the Broadway Singers. At WHS, he participated in the music and theater programs, and as a junior, he began attending the Juilliard Pre-College Division.
In 2006, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score for his work on the Broadway musical The Wedding Singer. Sklar has also composed music for the Broadway musical rendition of Elf and The Rhythm Club.
In addition to his credits as a composer, he has coordinated dance arrangements for Shrek the Musical and conducted for Broadway productions of 42nd Street and Titanic, among other shows, according to broadwayworld.com. Sklar said that he is currently working on writing three original stage musicals.
Sklar said: “The best part of composing music is that you’re creating something out of nothing. It takes a lot of hard work, and you sometimes have to face disappointment, but I consider myself very lucky to be able to write music for a living.”