Take this moment in as much as you can. Some of you will continue to be involved in music, some of you will not; whatever you choose to do, this group of people you have been performing with this past year is going to be one of the most talented groups you will play with in your careers. Appreciate it, because these moments are special.
— Dr. Stewart's farewell speech as remembered by Jason Alexander

Featured Alumni


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Alumni Spotlight

Matt Cook
Percussion, 2002-2004

It may be an understatement to say that Matt Cook has a lot of irons in the fire. As a full-time professional percussionist, he is a studio musician for film and television in Los Angeles and a performing member of several prominent ensembles including the GRAMMY® Award-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, modern music collective wild Up, and PARTCH, a GRAMMY® Award-winning ensemble specializing in the music & instruments of composer Harry Partch. In addition to his performance career, Matt also leads the percussion department at Fullerton College as a member of the faculty.

Matt credits his drive and musical ambition partly to his memorable time as a percussionist in the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony. “AYWS prepared me for my life in the arts by lighting many fires. I had never felt so inspired to be great at something,” says Matt. As a result of some of the challenges provided by the rigor of AYWS rehearsals and concert prep, Matt learned valuable lessons in perseverance, leadership and communication.

His performance career has led Matt into experimental and innovative musical territory and earned him a GRAMMY® Award in 2014, four GRAMMY® Award nominations and several professional sponsorships. Matt maintains that a driving influence in his early success in the performing arts industry was his positive interactions with AYWS music director and conductor Dr. Scott Stewart. “Being around his talent and enthusiasm every week was probably the largest reason I had the success I did in my young artistic development.”

An AYWS donor, Matt recognizes the impact that a rigorous musical environment has on young musicians as well as the importance of music to broader audiences. “Globally, music is important because it gives humans a chance to express their cultural experiences without words. It is truly a universal language that transcends politics and geographic boundaries.” Matt’s recent work can be heard on the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet’s new surround sound album, Beyond, released June 16.

Pre-2000 Alumni

T.C. Spivey-Hall.jpg

T.C. Spivey-Hall

Clarinet 1994-1997