American violist Jacob Clewell stands in the vanguard of musicians of his generation. Gold Medalist of the 2017 Vancouver International Music Competition, he is quickly becoming sought after as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician.
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 and Seattle Symphony, Manhattan Chamber Players, Gryphon Trio, Pedja Muzijevic, Andrew Armstrong, and Benjamin Bowman. 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. Jacob also collaborates with painter Karen Mosbacher on Paint:Music, a project focusing on the audio/visual manifestations of synesthesia.
Together with his duo partner, pianist Sasha Bult-Ito (The Ezra Duo), he has appeared coast to coast in Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver. 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 March 2019 Ezra toured with their "Women in Music" program to Georgia, New Mexico, and Ontario, and in November of the same year toured with "Art of the Duo" to the midwestern United States, Ontario, and Quebec. 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. They are first prize laureates of numerous international competitions, and in March 2018 appeared in the prestigious Città Metropolitana chamber music competition in Turin, Italy. Ezra is currently 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.
Upcoming highlights include concerto appearances with the North Bay Symphony Orchestra, Skule Orchestra, Cricket Orchestra, University of Toronto Campus Philharmonic, and North/South Consonance, concerts with Ezra, and continued collaborative work on Paint:Music.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jacob spent the majority of his childhood in Oklahoma, playing viola 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 currently holds the Yo-Yo Ma Fellowship for Strings at the University of Toronto, where he is pursuing a doctorate under the guidance of Masumi Rostad, and is a teaching assistant to Annalee Patipatanakoon.
Jacob draws influence from many fields, citing William Primrose, Itzhak Perlman, Martha Argerich, Boris Kroyt, Radiohead, Highly Suspect, Hayao Miyazaki, and Satoru Iwata among his greatest inspirations. Away from the viola he enjoys board games, soccer, tennis, and brewing specialty coffee.