Jacob Clewell, viola
Originally hailing from the midwestern United States, American violist Jacob Clewell is gaining international notoriety. He holds degrees from the Cornish College of the Arts and Stony Brook University, where he studied with Mara Gearman, Nicholas Cords, and Lawrence Dutton. He is currently pursuing an artist diploma at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, studying with Steven Dann. He has also undertaken additional study in Europe with Yuko Inoue and Roger Chase.
His immense love for chamber music has led to performances at the Eastern Music Festival, Lake District Summer Music Festival, Mendocino Summer Festival, and Le Domaine Forget Chamber Institute. Other performances include numerous house concerts, and a string quartet concert at the Bath Correctional Institute with Barry Shiffman and fellow students of the Glenn Gould School. He also spent two years of intensive study under the Emerson String Quartet.
In September of 2016 Jacob was introduced to pianist Sasha Bult-Ito, and upon beginning to work together they adopted the moniker the Ezra Duo. Within its first year, Ezra had proven itself to be an ensemble of the highest caliber, giving a performance at the Arts and Letter Club of Toronto, a postlude recital for Nicola Benedetti and the Venice Baroque Orchestra, and in a prelude recital for the Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Koerner Hall. The duo has played in masterclasses for Hsin-Yun Huang, James Dunham, Richard O’Neill, and Leon Fleisher, and on the Young Artist recital series as part of the Scotia Festival of Music. Most recently, Ezra was announced the first prize winners of the Golden Classical Music Awards and Grand Prize Virtuoso competitions, and are slated to debut in Carnegie Hall in November.
Jacob draws influences 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 running, biking, and specialty coffee.
Sasha Bult-Ito, piano
Sasha Bult-Ito, 19, is a rare, three-time first place winner of the Fairbanks Symphony Concerto Competition, performing with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in 2005, 2007, and 2010. In 2011, she won the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp Intermediate Division Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Interlochen Intermediate Division Symphony Orchestra. Sasha is a two-time finalist of the David D. Dubois Competition, receiving an Honorable Mention in 2014, and a semifinalist of the 2014 PianoArts North American Competition and Music Festival. She was named a finalist in the 2015 National YoungArts Foundation Competition and attended the National YoungArts Week in Miami, Florida (USA) in January. In 2015 she was a semifinalist of the International e-Piano Junior Competition and the Fourteenth Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. Most recently she performed as a soloist with the Brunensis Virtuosi Orchestra under the baton of Danwen Wei in Perugia, Italy.
Sasha has given over a dozen full solo recitals of different programs in the past eight years. She has had the privilege to perform in masterclasses by such notable artists as Leon Fleisher, John O’Conor, Nelita True, Boris Slutsky, Natalya Antonova, Alexander Kobrin, Jonathan Biss, Santiago Rodriguez, Norman Krieger, Sarah Davis Buechner and Matti Raekallio. She has attended summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Internationaler Klaviersommer Cochem Meisterkurs, Scotia Music Festival, MusicFest Perugia, Brevard Music Festival, Montecito International Music Festival, and Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Institutes, where she has had the honor of playing for distinguished artists such as Jon Nakamatsu, James Ehnes, and Giora Schmidt. She currently plays in the Ezra Duo with violist Jacob Clewell.
Sasha began her piano studies at age four with her mother. She studied during high school with Thomas Lymenstull at the Interlochen Arts Academy. She is currently studying with John Perry and David Louie in her third year at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music where she is a full scholarship recipient.