March 20, 2024

By Mary Kate Bunstine ’24

Jazz Studies Graduate Becomes Professional Drummer

Capital's music program can lead to a vibrant career in the music industry, as it has for Matthiessen Nisch Quan '14, who has excelled in and found community through being a professional drummer. Throughout his time as a jazz studies major, community proved invaluable, a cornerstone of both his degree and his Capital experience. Today, that same sense of community remains a cherished asset.

Though his appreciation for music began before Capital, Bob Breithaupt, professor emeritus, music, inspired him to keep honing his skills. Quan remembers his mentorship as "completely invaluable."

Breithaupt remembers that Quan stood out because of his "good leadership skills and a great personality" and because "he was a go-to for a lot of peoples' work and recitals."

In September, Quan returned to Capital for a faculty recital showcasing Zakk Jones, assistant professor, music. Coming back to support one of his best friends was a full-circle moment for Quan.

One of Quan's favorite memories from returning to Capital was being a part of a clinic held before the recital. That advice emphasized the importance of practicing. Based on what he has learned so far in his career, Quan found himself offering similar advice to current students.

When asked about his friend, Jones described Quan as "equally fearless, empathetic, patient, pugilistic, and interactive."

"He's terrifically talented as a drummer, but he is also adept at songwriting, producing, and serving as musical director for various artists," said Jones. "No matter where Matthiessen is, he's a major asset in any musical scenario."

Hooked at a young age, Quan played his first gig in seventh grade. That moment stands out as the first time he knew he wanted to be a professional drummer.

"I got to and still get to play this instrument I love. Playing drums for me is really not a choice, especially at this point."

Currently, Quan works with artists such as Jones and Spencer Sutherland. After spending time in Los Angeles, he is back in Columbus, playing and producing music. For Sutherland's second record, which has yet to be released, Quan is grateful to have been a part of the recording process, playing the drums on each song.

He also has two or three records coming out with Jones and has brought his talent into producing some songs for Kid Quill and artists around Columbus. "That's sort of another avenue of things happening for me, and that's really exciting," he said.

Quan's connection to Capital continues to grow, and he recognizes the community that often rallies around him for new projects.

Quan continues to be grateful for the community that his time at Capital and his career have offered him, and he is looking forward to what is in store for him, both in playing and producing music.

For more information about Capital's Conservatory of Music, visit