WINTER PARK, Fla. - "There is a terrible stillness when death comes, but the quiet when a master musician dies is deafening." - Pat Zeiler, close friend and colleague of Matthew Bryant
Dr. Matthew Oliver Bryant, 49, formerly of Charleston, Mo., died at 5:30 p.m. July 3, 2004, in Orlando, after a short illness.
He was born Jan. 3, 1955, in Cairo, Ill., to Fern Anselm Bryant of Charleston and the late Gilbert Oliver Bryant.
While growing up in Charleston, Matthew's musical talent was quickly recognized and nurtured under the teaching of Bess Latimer and Hazel Bouler. At a young age he assumed the role as one of Charleston's key musical resources and unselfishly dedicated himself to developing his God-given talent serving as organist for his parish church, St. Henry and also the Charleston United Methodist Church. He was an accompanist for many area vocalists, performed at innumerable area school, civic and social occasions and demonstrated his broadening ability and skill in the organization of a band, "The Texas Benders" that entertained locally for several years.
A 1973 graduate of Charleston High School, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in music from Murray State (Ky.) University. In 1980 after completing his master's degree in organ performance at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, he began his professional career in Tampa, serving at St. Jerome and Christ the King parishes. Matthew accepted the organist position at St. Mary's Cathedral in Miami in 1983, completing an organ renovation in time for the visit of the Holy Father to Miami in 1987. He served as principle organist for all liturgies surrounding that visit.
A gifted organist, he was featured in a Miami Herald article entitled "Pipe Dreams" in July 2001. He performed for Pope John Paul II, both in Miami and in Rome; and also performed for cardinals, Archbishop John Clement Favalora and his predecessor, Archbishop McCarthy, international heads of state, national officials, many dignitaries and celebrities including a request to serve as the organist for the funeral of Jackie Gleason. But Matthew's most important audience was the worshiping assembly that he served on any given Sunday over the last 30 years.
In 1990, he moved to the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables as director of music. He assisted the pastor with a complete architectural renovation of the church sanctuary, including the present organ. In 1993, upon completion of the project, Little Flower was selected as the church for the nationally televised Easter Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edward McCarthy and featured Matthew as choral conductor and principle organist. During his time at Little Flower, he also completed a doctorate (ABD) in choral conducting at the University of Miami, and toured with his choirs in England, Germany, Austria and Hungary.
Matthew was called to return to St. Mary's Cathedral in 1995 as director of music where he resurrected the Cathedral Arts Concert Series, featuring local, national and international artists. He founded a professional choir, Sine Nomine, composed of local professional musicians that was regularly featured in the Cathedral Arts Series and functioned as a resident performing ensemble. He toured Italy with this ensemble in 1996. His Christmas Eve Concert and the Midnight Mass that followed were broadcast to Cuba in 1998. Again his skills were required for a complete renovation of the present cathedral organ.
Dr. Bryant championed multi-culturalism. All liturgies under his direction at the Cathedral were celebrated in four languages: English, Spanish, Creole and the traditional language of the Roman Church, Latin. He was an expert musical arranger and a composer when necessary, carefully overseeing all translations and every piece of music for worship. When he made the move to St. Mary Magdalene in the Orlando diocese, he was an immediate consultant to the diocesan Office of Worship and the Cathedral of St. James. His expertise was required especially in Creole music for the Mass of Welcome for Bishop Thomas Wenski when he relocated from Miami to Orlando.
Matthew's love of music was never ending. In April of this year he began the pursuit of mastering the cello for use in his church ministry. A member of the American Guild of Organists and the National Association of Pastoral Music, he was a renowned musician, performing recitals internationally.
Matthew was an extremely private person, perhaps because of the public nature of his work. He returned to his hometown only once as a professional musician, when he was invited as guest artist in 1999 for the dedication of the Byrd Memorial Wicks Pipe Organ in the new sanctuary of the United Methodist Church.
Surviving in addition to his mother are: one brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Shirley Bryant of Charleston; three sisters and brothers-in-law, Maria and Arnie Lanners of Wright City, Mary Alice and Bob Miller of Charleston and Tudy and Tim Kennedy of Prairie Village, Kan.; and several nieces and nephews.
One sister, Margie Abner, preceded him in death.
Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at McMikle Funeral Home in Charleston, where prayers will be recited at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Henry Catholic Church in Charleston with Monsignor Richard Rolwing, senior priest in residence at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Sikeston, serving as celebrant.
Burial will follow in the Texas Bend Cemetery near Charleston.
Pallbearers will be: Andy Bryant, Aaron Rapert, Tory Gunn, Jim Gabriel, David Slaughter and Jim Rolwing.
Honorary pallbearers will be: Junior and Mollie DeLay, Sara and Pete Story, Dot Secoy, Sandie Harper, Cynthia Westerhold, Mary Katherine Branum, Mary Ann Clayton, Kim Jobe, Larry Bohannon, Beth Ohmes, Jayna Holley, John Coon and Cam Newlon.
The Miami Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will schedule a memorial service in Miami in the fall to provide an opportunity for his friends and colleagues to gather to play and sing some of the music that he loved.
may be sent to
St. Henry Catholic School
304 East Court Street
Charleston, MO 63834