Making Music for Generations to Come
Raymond DeMattia’s passion for music was a driving force in his life and career. His grandfather, well-known educator, international band director and flutist Enea Trovarelli, began teaching him to play the flute early in his childhood. With the mentorship of top flutists in the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, Raymond continued to study and play the instrument throughout his life.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in 1949 and a master’s degree from Columbia University, Raymond chose to shift his focus from performing to teaching. He received an offer to serve as a music teacher in Indiana, as well as first-chair flutist in a local symphony orchestra. Raymond bought a ticket and boarded a bus to Indiana to find a new apartment... On the way, he learned about an opening for a band director in the Manchester Local School District, near Akron, Ohio. He got off the bus and applied for the position. This decision changed his life.
He served as band director at Manchester Schools for 16 years before joining the School of Music faculty at Kent State University, where he taught for 24 years. He was also a founding member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra, serving as first-chair flutist for 20 years.
A former student of Raymond's wanted to honor the impact he had on her as an educator and flutist. With a blended gift of direct financial support and a bequest, she and her husband anonymously created the Raymond DeMattia Honorary Flute Scholarship, which supports a sophomore, junior or senior studying the flute with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated financial need. She grew up in a small rural town, and her family worked in agriculture. Unlike most of her peers, she hadn’t taken private flute lessons before coming to Kent State. Raymond’s lessons made all the difference for her.
“He taught music to students, but what he really taught was people,” she said. “He was my first main flute teacher, but he never made me feel like I was behind.”
When Raymond and his wife Catherine, ’91, heard about this generous gesture, they were inspired to give their own gifts to this fund. “I thought it was wonderful,” Catherine exclaimed. “It was a great way to show how grateful his students were for the musical education they received.”
Catherine first heard Raymond play when they were students at Kent State. She learned of a performance where a student flutist would be accompanied by another student on piano, and she decided to go. “The people in front of me were tall. I couldn’t see him, but I heard him,” she remembered.
Soon after this performance, she put a note in his mailbox asking if he would give her flute lessons. He never responded, but they ended up getting to know each other as they played the flute side-by-side, Raymond as first chair and Catherine as second chair. Music was central to their lives together, and they instilled that love for music in their three sons. “He used to practice in the kitchen because of the way the sound bounced,” Catherine explained. “It was nice to hear him practice, even if it was a little inconvenient at times.”
After Raymond passed away in April 2022, there was an outpouring of support for the Raymond DeMattia Honorary Flute Scholarship in his memory.
“He was dedicated to making sure students made progress that was logical for them,” said Alan DeMattia, Raymond and Catherine’s son and a retired member of The Cleveland Orchestra.
Raymond tailored his lessons to the student, and he recorded lessons for them to hear how they sounded and learn what needed improvement. “Raymond wanted to teach that there’s more to music than getting the notes and the counting right,” explained Catherine.
He worked with students on both the craftsmanship of the musical process and their artistic development. “He wanted to help us develop our own personality on the instrument, not just play like him,” said the anonymous donor.
His impact created a ripple effect when his students passed on the lessons he had taught them. “My students knew who he was because I mentioned his name so much,” said the anonymous donor. “I owe a lot to him for encouraging me and helping me find my voice on flute. I hope this scholarship encourages students to work hard and find their voice.”
Catherine is proud that this scholarship honors Raymond’s memory by helping students to pursue their degrees, and even if music is not part of their professional career, she hopes this training provides them with a lifelong appreciation of music.