Known for his passionate enthusiasm for music and education, Matthew Sheppard is active as both a performer and pedagogue. His Music Director appointments include the University Chamber Orchestra at the University of Chicago, the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company of Chicago, the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and Civic Orchestra, and the UU Church of Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as Assistant Conductor of the Elgin Youth Symphony.
In past seasons, Sheppard has guest conducted orchestras in North and South America, including the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Paraguay, the Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra, and the Elgin Youth Symphony. As a pedagogue, he is highly regarded for his musicianship, technical ability, and scholarship as demonstrated in masterclasses in orchestral playing and conducting, as well his in-demand lectures and classes.
Sheppard studied with Donald Schleicher as a doctoral candidate in orchestral conducting at the University of Illinois, and before that with Gerardo Edelstein at Penn State University. During that time, he held appointments as Orchestra Director at Juniata College, Music Director of the State College Summer Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra (CPYO), and Music Director of the UU Fellowship of Centre County. In 2010, he founded the State College Summer Orchestra, a community orchestra that has since offered three years of benefit concerts. In 2013, they presented four world premieres, including a commission written for the orchestra and cello soloist Kim Cook.
Sheppard holds bachelor’s degrees in Liberal Arts, Music Education, and Music Performance from Penn State, as well as a master’s degree in orchestral conducting. As a violin student of Max Zorin, he received the Jury Recognition Award three times for outstanding performance on end-of-semester playing exams and received the William M. Forrest Chamber Music Scholarship for four consecutive years. He was also the 2010 recipient of the Penn State Creative Achievement Award.