Empowered was commissioned by Transient Canvas for their 2014-2015 concert season. The title refers to the zipline course at Empower Leadership Sports & Adventure Center, located in my hometown, Middletown, CT. From the company’s website, “We endeavor to EMPOWER you to take a leap of faith so that you can achieve things that may at first seem impossible.” The activities at Empower include careening through the treetops on multiple ziplines, crossing Indiana Jones style bridges, a cargo net and a tight wire. When completing the course, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment, having overcome my initial anxieties.

 In this piece, the music does not necessarily refer to any specific event at Empower, but rather the variety of emotional and psychological states one may undergo - from anxiety to exuberance to self-reflection to self-satisfaction - while completing the course, or on a broader scope, any challenge that one may encounter and overcome. The music is energetic, often with a driving pulse, sometimes hesitant, sometimes reflective and ends with a quasi-ragtime romp.

            - Matt Jaskot


Matthew Jaskot is a composer and pianist originally from Middletown, CT and currently residing in Wakefield, MA.  He holds a DMA and MM in composition from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD) and a BA in music from the College of the Holy Cross.  He has studied composition with Osvaldo Golijov, Shirish Korde and Mark Wilson among others and piano with Marian Hanshaw and Gina Fredericks.  

Matthew J. Jaskot’s compositions synthesize improvisational and gestural materials with a refined approach to orchestration and form.  His works have been performed by the Kronos Quartet, Boston Musica Viva, pianist Blair McMillen, percussionist Leonardo Soto, the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Percussion Group, the Freya String Quartet, QX String Quartet and the Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra.  His works have been selected for performances at the Charlotte New Music Festival, Society of Composers conferences and the National Saxophone Alliance conference.  Matthew holds a DMA and a MM in composition from the University of Maryland and a BA in Music from the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA).  His teachers include Osvaldo Golijov, Shirish Korde, Mark Wilson and Tom DeLio. 

As a performer, Matt specializes in performances of twentieth and twenty-first century music as a soloist and chamber musician.  Recent performances include a solo program entitled 8 Etudes and Some Fantasies, featuring works by Chopin, Debussy, Ligeti and Augusta Read Thomas, and a duo piano concert featuring the two piano version of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps.  He also served as the artistic director of TEMPO, a student-run new music ensemble at the University of Maryland.  Under his direction, TEMPO became recognized as an integral part of the School of Music and was positively reviewed in the Washington Post.

Currently, Matt serves on the faculty at the College of the Holy Cross where he has taught courses in music theory, surveys in twentieth century music, the history of Western music, the history of rock and composition.  He has also taught courses at Clark University, American University, The University of Maryland and Montgomery Community College as well as private students in composition and piano.  

Matt's interest in music extends beyond the classical tradition.  He has been active as a liturgical organist and pianist for several years and has also played with jazz bands and rock bands, most notably the Morrison Brothers Band (Washington DC)