The Shirtless Violinist
My musical tastes have always been all over the place. I can go from alternative grunge rock to classical piano in the course of a day. While looking around on the internet one day finding new music, I stumbled across the video “Bring Him Home,” by Matthew Olshefski, aka “The Shirtless Violinist.” The video was beautiful and stunning. Matthew elegantly plays the violin with such passion which you can see in his videos. I was hooked, not only does Matthew play beautifully, but he does it shirtless. I got to chat briefly with the six-pack hunk behind the violin.
How did you come upon performing shirtless?
I have been playing the violin all my life (always in a coat and tails, I might add) but several years ago I began to notice classical musicians popping up on YouTube covering modern pop songs in a beautiful way. The Piano Guys and 2 Cellos are great examples of this. After watching their videos for a while I finally decided to try it out myself, but my boyfriend told me I needed to do “something” to stand out from the crowd. That “something”, we decided, was being shirtless! And guess what? It worked. Our first video got some traction and it inspired us to make more. That’s what got us started, and now we’ve been releasing a new video each month for over 2 years!
What was your childhood like? When did you come out and did your family support you?
My childhood was filled with music. I have two younger siblings who both play the violin, and we all practiced daily. The three of us formed our own little string trio aptly named Two Hits and a Miss (much to my younger sister’s dismay..she was the miss!)
Coming out to my family happened in adulthood when I reckoned with being gay. Some members of my family embraced it, while others did not. I am very grateful for the relationships that thrive today.
Can you tell us how you met your boyfriend?
My boyfriend, Paul, and I met on online! We were chatting for a couple of months on the app before we set up a date to meet each other. Paul is a painter, so our first date included a painting lesson, while I showed him how to play the violin! We hit it off right away on our first date! We stayed up all night talking and getting to know each other… it was hard to say goodbye! But thankfully there was a second date, and a third and a fourth. We’ve been together for over 2 years and we live together in Seattle.
What do you spend more time on working out or practicing violin?
Over my lifetime I’ve definitely spent far more hours practicing the violin than anything else. I started practicing daily when I was 3 years old and never stopped. The gym is something I’ve only done for the last 5 years. I currently do my best to keep it balanced, but I probably spend more time in the gym. The gym can take up to three hours a day depending on my workout!
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is letting an opportunity pass me by without seizing it!
How do other classical musicians view you?
The classical music world has definitely been the toughest crowd. The work I do is not embraced by the majority of classical musicians, and the same can be said for most “classical crossover” acts (like The Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling). Having said that, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, UK recently flew me over to film a music video on their stage. They used the video as part of their Pride campaign last May — so there is clearly an audience for my work, even within the classical music world!
What’s is next for you career-wise? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
Besides a bunch of new music videos coming out in 2019, I am also focusing on live performances and an eventual tour. Filming music videos is a lot of fun, but nothing compares to that connection with a live audience. I’ve already had a couple of successful shows and I am currently preparing for a live concert in Seattle at Yogasmith on December 12th (details here).
Matthew, thank you so much for your time. If any of you are in the Seattle area and want to check out Matthew at Yogasmith on December 12, click the link above for tickets. Also, sign up for his newsletter on Matthew’s website to keep up to date on what is happening.
Matthew, again, thank you and good luck with your December 12th performance, I look forward to seeing you down the road.