Zach Sheets (b. 1991) enjoys a multi-faceted career as a chamber musician, orchestral flutist, composer/performer, and advocate for funding in the arts and music education.
Zach has appeared as guest Principal Flute with the Boston Ballet and Spoleto Festival USA; the Portland, Albany and Cape Symphonies; and the Phoenix, Unitas, and Cape Cod Chamber Orchestras; and as a guest of the Boston Pops, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Chorus Pro Musica, and New World Symphony. At 23, Zach was named Principal Flute, Lyndon Paul Lorusso Chair, of the Cape Symphony Orchestra, and held that role for 9 seasons. He is a founding member of the [Switch~ Ensemble] and the flute and piano Duo Axis with Wei-Han Wu.
Photo by Justin McCallum Photography
Awards include a 2021 Artist Fellowship from the Mass Cultural Council, a 2020 St. Botolph Club Emerging Artist Award, 3rd prize in the 2019 San Diego Flute Guild Young Artist Competition, 1st prize in the 2017 Byron Hester Competition, and 1st prize in the 2015 Tallon Perkes Competition.
Festival engagements include performances at the Spoleto, Aldeburgh, Cabrillo, Royaumont, Britten-Pears, TIME:SPANS, ManiFeste@IRCAM, Klangspuren, SinusTON, CulturaUNAM, and June in Buffalo Festivals. During his two summers with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, he performed as principal flute for the North American premiere of Helmut Lachenmann's Das mädchen mit den schwefelhölzern and gave the premiere of his own solo flute work on Spoleto's Music in Time series.
As a chamber musician, Zach and longtime collaborator Wei-Han Wu have performed flute+piano recitals throughout the US as Duo Axis since 2014. Named Artists-in-Residence at University of California Davis in 2021-22 and artist residents of the Creative Arts Institute at University at Buffalo in 2018-19, Duo Axis has been funded by the Copland, Ditson, Barlow, and Koussevitzky Foundations. Performances and teaching engagements have been presented across the US by such institutions as: UC San Diego, Brown University, the University of Chicago, the Houston Flute Club, Mizzou New Music, University of Iowa Center for New Music, the EQ Concert Series, the Knutson Masters Series, the John Kleshinski Concert Series, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Buffalo String Works, and more.
As a founding member of the [Switch~ Ensemble], Zach has performed as ensemble-in-residence at Bard College, Cornell, Harvard Group for New Music, Ithaca College, University of Miami, UC Berkeley, and many more. In addition to his work with Duo Axis and [Switch~], Zach has performed with new music ensembles like Ensemble Signal, the Talea Ensemble, and the Callithumpian Consort. Zach often works closely with influential composers to perform and premiere new works, including: George Lewis, Anthony Cheung, Philippe Leroux, Zachary James Watkins, Leilehua Lanzilotti, Kelley Sheehan, Annea Lockwood, and many more.
As a composer himself, Zach's works have been performed in the U.S. and abroad by some of the world's foremost interpreters of contemporary music, including the Ensemble InterContemporain, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. In November of 2016 he completed a month-long residency with the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne at their renowned FORUM international des jeunes compositeurs, for which his new work, from cairn terrain, was awarded the 1° prix du jury and the 2016 Lorraine Vaillancourt Prize.
Zach has received generous support to help refine his musical thinking, including artist residencies at the Marble House Project and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, a fellowship to attend the Écoles d'Art Américaines at Fontainebleau, an Artist Development Fellowship from the Harvard Office for the Arts, a John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship, a Belle S. Gitelman Award, an Edward Vitali Scholarship, and the Bernard Rogers Composition Prize.
Zach is currently the Senior Director of Major and Institutional Gifts at Community Music Center of Boston, the largest outside provider of arts education to the Boston Public Schools. There, he is overseeing a $15 million capital campaign and acts as a persuasive advocate for youth-led artistic projects, arts-sector workforce development, and the important of equitable, community-based arts education. He is formerly Managing Director of the Talea Ensemble and has consulted on fundraising and nonprofit management with a wide range of organizations. He has spoken about the importance of arts education, youth leadership, and racial equity before the Massachusetts Legislature, Mass Cultural Council, National Guild for Community Arts Education, Chamber Music America Conference, and the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education National Conference.
Zach holds a B.A. in Music & French Literature from Harvard University and an MM & Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music.