festival director and cofounder
violin and viola
Matt Pickart, director and co-founder of Clazz International Music Festival, holds a varied career as a violinist, violist, jazz musician, and teacher. Highlights from the last couple years include performances in a wide variety of settings all over the world, from chamber music at Carnegie Music Hall’s Weill Recital Hall to being a featured artist at Jazzstadt Stuttgart; as well as performances with Barry Manilow on tour, Bernadette Peters, the Vogues, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the Interharmony International Music Festival Orchestra in Italy as featured soloist, the Beatles Love Album Tribute Tour, Premier Swingtett in Berlin, Ritmo Flamenco in Toronto, and the Swingadje Ensemble as featured soloist on three German tours 2013-2015. Additionally, he has had his recordings aired on Milwaukee’s WMSE, Pittsburgh’s WQED, and National Russian Radio.
The coming 2017 season will feature Mr. Pickart on violin in concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center alongside pianist Robert Rodriguez; as well as a performance as soloist with Michigan State University’s contemporary music ensemble, M21 for Steve Mackey’s 2007 viola concerto “Groundswell”; a return engagement with Swingadje Ensemble in Germany; and solo and chamber music recitals in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
As an orchestral leader, Pickart has played as concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, Ripieno Chamber Orchestra, University of Wisconsin-Madison Symphony Orchestra, Michigan State University Concert Orchestra, Duquesne University Symphony Orchestra, and the Madison Savoyards; and as principal viola of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra, Duquesne University Symphony Orchestra, Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra, the International Chamber Soloists, and at Julliard’s Paul Hall with the Shirley Givens Alumni Orchestra. As a section player, Matt has played with premiere ensembles, including the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
After classical music, Matt is most at home with jazz. He was the violinist and vocalist of the Hot Club of Pittsburgh from 2011 to 2014 and a founding member of the Pittsburgh classical/jazz project, The Groove Aesthetic. He has also been critically acclaimed and has performed extensively, in Germany, with the Swingadje Ensemble and the Premier Swingtett, most notably at the Traditional Jazz Hall of Stuttgart and the B-flat in Berlin, respectively. Summer 2015, marked his debut jazz performance in Italy, at the Grosseto Cassero with the Matt Pickart Trio, and two world premiere arrangements, of his own, as jazz violin soloist, with the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra and Mason Symphony Orchestra respectively. Matt has studied jazz privately with Rodney Whitaker and has participated in several masterclasses and performances with some of the greatest jazz violinists of our time.
Pickart’s former teachers include Sidney Harth, Walter Verdehr, Tyrone Greive, Eugene Purdue, Alison Jewer, and Tom Moore on violin; and Marylène Gingras-Roy on viola. He is currently studying with Yuri Gandelsman at Michigan State University as a fully funded doctoral viola student. He has taken additional lessons with Noah Bendix-Balgley, Choong-Jin Chang, Charles Pikler, and Jacques Israelievitch among others. He has played in masterclasses for a wide variety of artists including Midori, Joan Tower, and Christian Howes. As a soloist, he has appeared with orchestras in the US and Europe. As a chamber musician, he has been a featured performer at Renova Music Festival, Pittsburgh Classical Revolution, and Interharmony International Music Festival.
As a teacher, Mr. Pickart currently teaches at Michigan State University Community Music School and Okemos Suzuki. Previous institutions include Beloit College, Duquesne University’s City Music Center, and Chamber Music Pittsburgh. He was an instructor at Michigan State University’s Viola Day 2014 and was a longtime faculty member of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Summer Music Clinic from 2008-2015. As a music administrator, he has worked for Interharmony International Music Festival, Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, and the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. This coming summer 2017, Mr. Pickart will also begin work as Co-Music Production Coordinator for the Tennessee Governor School of the Arts for the month of June.