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American musician Jacob Clewell stands in the vanguard of musicians of his generation. Fusing his affinity for string playing with both classical and non-classical interests, he leads a career touching far corners of musical activity.

 

Recent activities include solo and chamber performances at the Scotia Festival, Green Lake Chamber Music Festival, Le Domaine Forget, Lake District Summer Music, Northern Lights Festival de Febrero in Ajijic, Mexico, and Festival Pablo Casals in Prades, France. Jacob has appeared alongside members of the Escher, Emerson, Endellion, Cypress, and Penderecki quartets, Berlin Philharmonic, Seattle and Toronto symphonies, Manhattan Chamber Players, Gryphon Trio, and pianists Pedja Muzijevic and Andrew Armstrong. In May 2018 he gave his first solo performance in Chicago’s Symphony Center, performing on the VIMC winner’s tour with works by Henri Vieuxtemps. In his home base of Toronto, he has appeared in the contemporary music festival 21C, and has recorded Brahms' 2 Gesänge for the Canadian Broadcasting Company with Wallis Giunta and Steven Philcox. He has also performed with Elton John tribute band Elton Rohn, Icelandic "cosmic rock" band Sigur Rós, and premiered original concert etudes transcribed from music by Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson.

 

Together with his duo partner, pianist Sasha Bult-Ito (The Ezra Duo), he has appeared coast to coast in Canada and across the United States. In November 2017 they appeared in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York, and in April 2018 performed as guests at a G7 Summit event held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In 2019 Ezra toured with their "Women in Music" and "Art of the Duo" programs, and in the midst of the 2020 lockdowns appeared in Toronto's Koerner Hall, performing in a celebration of composer Patricia Morehead's 80th birthday. Ezra began traveling again in 2022 with "Colorfully Contemporary", a program highlighting relatable works by living composers. They have participated in outreach events at Toronto's Baycrest Hospital and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as appeared on the Toronto Public Library's mid-day "Orchardviewers" series. Ezra has presented masterclasses at the University of Tulsa, Berry College, Albuquerque Youth Symphony, and elsewhere, and are individually dedicated teachers. Ezra is an ensemble-in-residence for the Emerald Coast Chamber Music Festival and Institute in Niceville, Florida, where Jacob and Sasha are co-artistic directors and Artist Faculty alongside their colleagues Nicholas Hatt and Jordan Galvarino in the Velox Quartett.

 

Upcoming highlights include a appearances as soloist with The Cricket Orchestra and the North Bay Symphony, in Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, and in concerts with Ezra and Velox in Canada and the United States. Ezra will also release their first album in 2024, titled "The Mystic Journey", and continue hosting Ezra Electrified!, a livestreamed recital series where the duo performs a mix of classical, rock, and music from films and video games on electric instruments. Jacob is also a current member of the Juno-winning chamber orchestra Sinfonia Toronto as a violist, and has been named a NewGeneration Artist with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jacob spent the majority of his childhood in Oklahoma, playing in school and local orchestras. He holds diplomas from the Cornish College of the Arts, Stony Brook University, and The Glenn Gould School, where he studied with Mara Gearman, Nicholas Cords, Lawrence Dutton, and Steven Dann, and spent two years of intensive study under the Emerson String Quartet. He has undertaken additional study in Europe with Yuko Inoue, Roger Chase, and Nobuko Imai. Jacob completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto under the guidance of Masumi Per Rostad and Annalee Patipatanakoon, where he was a teaching assistant in violin, viola, and chamber music. His doctoral research corroborated existing evidence confirming the identity of the 19th-century French violist Casimir Ney, displays the pedagogical merit of adding Ney's virtuosic 24 Preludes for Solo Viola into existing teaching materials for viola, and offers a style guide to Romantic repertoire through analysis and performance instruction of all twenty-four works.

 

Jacob draws influence from many fields, citing William Primrose, Itzhak Perlman, Martha Argerich, Boris Kroyt, My Chemical Romance, Hayao Miyazaki, and Satoru Iwata among his greatest inspirations. Away from the viola he enjoys board games, soccer, tennis, and brewing specialty coffee. He can often be found transcribing rock and video game music for Ezra.

Jacob primarily performs on a c.1680 viola from the Amati family, and 1912 Daniel Tomashev violin.

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