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. He has the distinct honor and privilege of having been able to perform at both Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Music Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. During summer 2017, Mr. Pickart went on a European tour with Grammy nominated Quartet San Francisco as their guest violist. The concerts culminated in a sold-out, highly acclaimed performance at Cremona 2017 Summer Festival, sponsored by the professional consortium of Cremonese violinmakers. Other recent career highlights include performances in a wide variety of settings all over the world including concerts 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, Rocktopia, 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.
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.
Outside of classical music, Matt has performed and recorded in multiple genres but 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. In 2013, Mr. Pickart was a featured artist at Jazzstadt Stuttgart, 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 string players of our time.
July 2016 kicked off the inaugural year of Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy. Founded and created by Matt, Clazz features a roster of internationally acclaimed teachers and crossover artists teaching classically trained students and professionals how to improvise within the context of jazz music, as well as a first-class concert series over the 12 days. Now approaching its third season, Clazz has doubled in size and also now features a Classical Session focused on chamber music, career advice, and skill building tactics for young aspiring musicians. More information can be found at www.clazzmusicfestival.com/.
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 Clazz International Music Festival, MSU Faculty Recitals, Lansing Symphony Chamber Music Series, Renova Music Festival, Pittsburgh Classical Revolution, and Interharmony International Music Festival.
As a teacher, Mr. Pickart currently teaches a full class of over twenty students at Michigan State University Community Music School and Okemos Suzuki. Previous institutions he has taught at 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 testament to Mr. Pickart’s pedagogy, several of his former students, have joined the profession, teaching and playing. Prior to the inception of Clazz International Music Festival, Matt also worked as a music administrator for Interharmony International Music Festival, Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, and the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. In the summer of 2017, he also began work as Assistant Music Production Coordinator for the Tennessee Governor School of the Arts.