ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Canadian-born violinist Lara St. John has been described as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and a “high powered soloist” by The New York Times.
She has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Seattle, Brooklyn, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, the Boston Pops, and many more in North America. In Europe, she has played with the NDR Symphony (Hanover), Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Bournemouth Symphony, and the Amsterdam Symphony, among others. In Asia, solo appearances have included the Hong Kong Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, China Philharmonic in Beijing, Guangzhou Symphony, and the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra. Lara has also performed with the Queensland Orchestra in Australia.
Recitals in major concert halls have included New York, Boston, San Francisco, Ravinia, Washington DC, Prague, Berlin, Toronto, Montreal and in
the Forbidden City. The Los Angeles Times has written, “St. John brings to the stage personal charisma, an unflagging musical imagination, and genuine passion.”
Lara St. John’s latest recording, with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and conductor Eduardo Marturet — Vivaldi: The Four Seasons and Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires — reached No. 2 on the iTunes charts on its first day. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “Lara St. John is as captivating in the seductive scenes of the Piazzolla as she is crisp, caressing, and colorful in Vivaldi’s atmospheric paeans to nature.”
Other recordings have been as well received, including a recording of Bach concertos that immediately reached No. 1 on iTunes in the classical category, and another Bach album that climbed to No. 2 and was iTunes’ best-selling double album for the year. Composer John Corigliano commented on the album containing her interpretation of his Red Violin Suite: “I’m thrilled to be included in a new recording by the brilliant and always surprising Lara St. John. She is a real maverick, as a performer and in her choice of repertoire.”
She has been featured in People and US News & World Report, and on CNN’s Showbiz Today, NPR’s All Things Considered, Fox News, CBC, and a Bravo! special, Live At the Rehearsal Hall.
Highlights of recent concert seasons included Lara’s London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, her Wolf Trap recital debut with
pianist Martin Kennedy, recitals in Montreal and New York, a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and concerts in Graz and the Czech Republic, as well as a concert in Central Park with The Knights, an eclectic New York-based symphony orchestra.
Lara began playing the violin when she was two years old. She made her first appearance as soloist with orchestra at age four, and her European debut with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon when she was ten. She toured Spain, France, Portugal, and Hungary at ages twelve and thirteen, entered the Curtis Institute at thirteen, and spent her first summer at Marlboro three years later. She performs on the 1779 “Salabue” Guadagnini thanks to an anonymous donor and Geo. Heinl & Co. of Toronto.
Uniquely combining the superlative technique of a classical virtuoso with his prowess in jazz, world music, and free improvisation, pianist, composer, and arranger Matt Herskowitz has carved out a distinctive and personal place in music. Over the last decade, Matt has produced a series of critically acclaimed recordings; premiered his works in settings from New York’s Central Park to Germany’s Kölner Philharmonie; collaborated with top classical, jazz, and pop artists; and performed at music festivals across the globe.
His newest release, for Justin Time Records, is Matt Herskowitz Upstairs, a solo outing with music that ranges from Gershwin to Schumann to Dave Brubeck to his own works, including “Bella’s Lament” and “Bach à la Jazz.” This last is Matt’s arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in C Minor, which he had previously recorded for EMI’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack to The Triplets of Belleville. In naming the release “Solo Album of the Year,” Le Devoir declared: “Herskowitz deploys his art with a rare passion, but without ever sacrificing musicality. Exceptional technique, precise sense of nuance, Herskowitz here brilliantly fuses his mastery of jazz and classical.” And Downbeat magazine praised Upstairs in its Editor’s Picks: “Throughout these eight tracks, [Herskowitz] displays touch, power, artistry, and chops along with a firm grasp of the daring needed for a great performance.”
Upstairs follows up Matt’s critically acclaimed, Juno-nominated world fusion album Jerusalem Trilogy, which features the pianist’s original
compositions and arrangements in a signature synthesis of contemporary jazz and classical styles with a unique blend of Arab and Jewish grooves. Among the album’s fans was the late great Dave Brubeck, who commended Matt on the recording, saying: “Congratulations! You have transformed the concept of ‘world’ music as I conceived of it half a century ago. You have carried it further than I could imagine.” Matt and his group have
performed Jerusalem Trilogy all over the world, including the El Paso Chamber Music Festival, Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, the Bremen International Musikfest, the Warsaw Singer Festival, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
His 2007 solo release, Matt Herskowitz Plays George Gershwin, featuring Matt’s original solo arrangements of the Concerto in F, Cuban Overture, and Rhapsody in Blue, was nominated for Quebec’s prestigious Prix Opus, while his 2006 solo release, Gabriel’s Message, featuring original arrangements and compositions based on Christmas themes, was nominated for Québec’s Félix award for Best Jazz Album. Matt’s 1998 recording of Glazunov’s Second Piano Concerto with I Musici de Montréal was hailed by The Strad as “by far the best performance on disc.”
Premieres of Matt’s compositions include his 2012 Concerto Grosso with The Knights in Central Park on the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts series. The concert was broadcast live on WQXR and Matt was praised in The New York Times for his “imaginative, virtuosic solo.” In 2008, Herskowitz premiered his piano concerto, Undertow, with Absolute Ensemble, a cross-genre chamber orchestra who commissioned the work, at Germany’s Bremen International Musikfest. He later performed the piece with Absolute Ensemble at the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne in a concert broadcast on WDR German television across Europe.
As an arranger, Matt has collaborated with many noted artists and producers. In addition to his hugely popular “Bach à la Jazz,” Matt and his trio were featured on Barry Manilow’s In The Swing of Christmas, which was nominated for a Grammy award for “Best Traditional Pop Album.” Matt’s seventeen-minute solo Piano Nocturne was featured on Lara Fabian’s album Nue, earning him many new thousands of fans in Europe.
Matt’s upcoming projects include a recording of his original arrangements of music by Bach with his trio and renowned Italian flutist Andrea Griminelli, and an upcoming release with his jazz trio and string quartet titled From Bach To Brubeck, which will feature original compositions and arrangements based on the music of both composers.
A graduate of The Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Matt is originally from Albany, New York, and has made his home in Montreal since 1999.