Zach Sheets (b. 1991) enjoys a multi-faceted career as a composer/performer, and as an advocate for funding in the performing arts and arts education.
As an active freelancer, he has performed in a wide variety of festivals, ensembles, and concert series. Recent performing engagements include with the Boston Ballet, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Ensemble Signal, New World Symphony, Callithumpian Consort, Phoenix Chamber Orchestra, the Talea Ensemble, Albany Symphony, Portland Symphony, and more. Current roles include flutist and managing director for the [Switch~ Ensemble]; Principal Flute, Lyndon Paul Lorusso Chair, of the Cape Symphony Orchestra; one half of flute & piano Duo Axis; and Manager of Institutional Giving for Community Music Center of Boston.
Photo by Justin McCallum Photography
Awards include a 2020 St. Botolph Club Emerging Artist Award, 1st prize in the 2017 Byron Hester Competition, 1st prize in the 2015 Tallon Perkes Competition, and 3rd prize in the 2019 San Diego Flute Guild Young Artist Competition, and a 2021 Artist Fellowship from the Mass Cultural Council.
During the summer, he has performed as part of the Spoleto Festival USA, Aldeburgh Festival, Royaumont Voix Nouvelles, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, ManiFeste-17, Klangspuren Ensemble Modern Academy, Colorado College Music Festival, Ritsos Project, and June in Buffalo Festival. 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. He has performed under the leadership of conductors like Oliver Knussen, Brad Lubman, and Heinz Holliger.
As a composer, 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. Other recent projects include an orchestra commission for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, as part of their 6-city "Made-in-Vermont" tour, as well as newly commissioned work by the Ogni Suono saxophone duo, Wolftone Duo, and sax/piano duo Phil Pierick and Kurt Galvan. See works page to look, listen, and learn more.
Formative performances of Zach’s works include: the [Switch~ Ensemble's] Singing through a Wire broadcast performance in Winter 2021; with Lucas Vis and the Ensemble InterContemporain, as part of ManiFest-2015 in Paris; Plural Ensemble at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid; James Baker and the Talea Ensemble as part of the Harvard Group for New Music 2011-2012 concert season; at the Écoles d'arts américaines at Fontainebleau in 2013.
Alongisde pianist Wei-Han Wu, Duo Axis has presented recitals throughout the US. Recent engagements include concerts and workshops at Augustana University, teaching and performing at University of Chicago, and a week-long residency at University at Buffalo. Duo Axis has been presented by the Houston Flute Club, Æpex Contemporary Performance, the EQ Concert Series, Buffalo's Creative Arts Initiative, the nth degree series, the Knutson Masters Series and others. Upcoming projects include new commissioned works by David Bird, Alex Stephenson, and Carolina Heredia, as well as Duo@50, a landmark project celebrating the 50th anniversary of Copland's Duo for Flute and Piano in 2021.
Thanks to funding from New Music USA, their landmark first project was a six-city recital tour in Spring 2016, featuring newly-commissioned works by Katherine Balch, Ashkan Behzadi, Gabriel Bolaños, and David Clay Mettens. Other highlights include the European premiere of Rand Steiger’s Light on Water, and new works by Tonia Ko (Guggenheim Fellow) and Anthony Vine (Winner, Gaudeamus Prize). Their projects are supported by the Copland Fund, Ditson Fund, and Barlow Endowment.
As a member of the [Switch~ Ensemble], Zach has performed as ensemble-in-residence at Bard College, University of Chicago, Cornell, Eastman School of Music, Harvard Group for New Music, Ithaca College, University of Miami, and UC Berkeley. [Switch~] has worked closely with prominent composers like George Lewis, Philippe Leroux, and Katharina Rosenberger, and premiered major works by composers such as Timothy McCormack, Esaias Järnegard, Adrien Trybucki, Elvira Garifzyanova, Anna-Louise Walton, Matt Sargent, Alican Camci, Igor Santos, and dozens more. Upcoming commissions include new works by Zachary James Watkins, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, and Kelley Sheehan.
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 2013 Écoles d'Art Américaines at Fontainebleau, a 2012-2013 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 Managing Director of the [Switch~ Ensemble] and Manager of Institutional Giving at Community Music Center of Boston, where he oversees a $1M portfolio of gifts and grants in support of arts education in the Boston Public Schools. He is formerly Managing Director of the Talea Ensemble and has consulted on fundraising and nonprofit management with a wide range of organizations. Read more about my work in the nonprofit sector here.
Mentors include Robert Morris, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Chaya Czernowin, John Luther Adams, Roger Reynolds, Amnon Wolman, Nicholas Vines, and Erik Nielsen (composition); Bonita Boyd, Ransom Wilson, Cynthia Meyers, Judy Grant, and Heidi Baxter (flute); Oliver Schneller, Allan Schindler and Hans Tutschku (electronics); Robert Levin, Federico Cortese, Kenneth Grant, and Jean Barr (chamber music); Vanessa Rose (development). Zach holds a B.A. in Music & French Literature from Harvard University and an MM & Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music.