Chief Conductor, Scottish Ballet
Principal Guest Conductor,
Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières
"A glorious night, with conductor and musicians working to the
hilt, and the music pouring off the page into vibrant life."
- The Herald (Scotland)
Canadian conductor Jean-Claude Picard is widely regarded as a communicative and engaging musician by fellow artists, critics and audiences alike. He is now starting his second season in two chief conductor positions, as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières in Québec and Chief Conductor of the Scottish Ballet.
Reviewing Jean-Claude Picard’s inaugural concert at the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières, Le Nouvelliste writes: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression and maestro Jean-Claude Picard has magnificently seized his by undoubtedly conquering the public of Trois-Rivières. The audience gave a heartfelt standing ovation at the end of each of the two parts of this exciting concert, which dramatically marked the arrival of Jean-Claude Picard at the helm of a dashing and vibrant OSTR.”
In addition to his work with the OSTR and Scottish Ballet, recent and upcoming highlights include return visits to the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Victoria Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia as well as debuts with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Luxembourg and Geneva Chamber Orchestras, I Musici, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and a highly acclaimed debut at the Edinburgh International Festival with Scottish Ballet. His USA debut with the Washington National Opera Orchestra and performances at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston has been cancelled due to the current situation. Originally scheduled for 20-21 were a first visit to the Royal Opera House in London, as well as a fourth invitation to the Victoria Symphony.
Jean-Claude started his conducting career through his first position as Assistant Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Two years later, the RSNO announced his promotion to the position of Associate Conductor, reflecting the detailed quality of his work and the meaningful relationship built with the members of the orchestra.
He forged close ties with Scottish Ballet, Scotland's national dance company and one of the four leading ballet companies in the United Kingdom, during his tenure at the RSNO. His first invitations with the Company saw him conduct performances of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker", Prokofiev's "Cinderella" and a Stravinsky double bill featuring "The Rite of Spring" and "The Fairy's kiss". Scottish Ballet appointed Jean-Claude as its new Chief Conductor in April 2019.
In addition, Jean-Claude has worked extensively in his native Canada, conducting leading orchestras such as the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières, Symphony Nova Scotia and Victoria Symphony as well as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and I Musici. As Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières he succeeds renowned conductor Jacques Lacombe.
In Europe, Jean-Claude has enjoyed successful return visits to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra following the completion of his tenure, the Manchester Camerata, Scottish Ballet, a critically acclaimed debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Porto Symphony Orchestra Casa da Música, Leipzig Symphony, Pärnu City Orchestra and Red Note Ensemble. His first commercial recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra received great critical acclaim.
Equally at ease with contemporary music, he has premiered and recorded works by Canadian and British composers such as Kelly-Marie Murphy, Dinuk Wijeratne, Ned Bigham, Peter Salem, Rory Boyle and Oliver Searle.Jean-Claude has also worked with internationally renowned soloists such as Nicola Benedetti, Vilde Frang, Xavier de Maistre, André Laplante, Kinan Azmeh, Boris Giltburg, and Jacques Zoon and was the assistant and cover conductor of Peter Oundjian, Thomas Søndergård, Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Andrew Davis, Stéphane Denève and Alexander Lazarev.
During his studies with Professor Laurent Gay at the prestigious Haute École de Musique de Genève (formerly Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Genève), he was selected to take part in coveted international conducting masterclasses where he had the opportunity to work with David Zinman in Zurich, Kurt Masur in New York, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi and Leonid Grin in Estonia and Jorma Panula in Porto. Following the course with Kurt Masur, he was awarded a Mendelssohn Scholarship, allowing him to continue his studies with Masur in Leipzig.
Prior to conducting, Jean-Claude was a sought-after flutist and performed with orchestras such as the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway, l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and Les Violons du Roy, giving him invaluable experience from inside the orchestra in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Jean-Claude has received scholarships from the Jeunesses Musicales Canada Foundation, the Wilfrid-Pelletier Foundation and the Jean-Tanner Foundation (Switzerland).