In the first decade of his career, Kyle Wiley Pickett has established himself as a true triple-threat music director: a talented and visionary musician who has earned the respect of players, soloists, boards, and audiences, an ambitious fund-raiser with an impressive track record of orchestra building, and a charismatic cultural leader in the communities he serves.
Pickett currently holds the position of Music Director and Conductor for both the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MO) and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra (KS). Previously, Pickett was the Music Director and Conductor for the Juneau Symphony (AK) and the North State Symphony (CA).
Following his doctoral studies at the Peabody Conservatory with renowned conducting teacher Frederik Prausnitz, Pickett was appointed Music Director of both the Redding and Chico symphony orchestras in northern California. Within a year of these appointments, he spearheaded the merger of the two orchestras into the North State Symphony, creating a single professional orchestra that bridged two communities and ensured the future of symphonic music in the region. In its first year, the North State Symphony played 8 performances of 4 concert sets in 2 cities. By its 10th anniversary in 2011-12, the North State Symphony had grown to 23 performances of 10 concert sets in 6 cities. Under Pickett's guidance, the North State Symphony's budget multiplied fivefold from $100,000 to a half a million dollars, and gained a reputation as the finest professional symphony in northern California.
In 2000, Pickett was appointed Music Director of the Juneau Symphony in Alaska's capital city. During his tenure, the JSO experienced unprecedented artistic and administrative growth, doubling the audiences and adding second performances to each set, more than tripling the budget, instituting a popular pre-concert "Conversation with the Conductor" series that packs several hundred people into the hall for his entertaining lectures, and establishing an annual summer pops concert. He has also created a symphonic chorus, collaborated with local opera companies, taken the symphony on two tours through Southeast Alaska, and instituted live radio broadcasts and webcasts of the Sunday matinee performances.
Pickett has conducted at the Montana Ballet Company for the last four years and has been a guest conductor with the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra for multiple concerts. Other recent guest conducting engagements include concerts with the Topeka Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, the Rogue Valley Symphony in Oregon, the Guanajuato Symphony in Mexico, the University of Delaware Symphony and several concerts with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Pickett conducts musical theatre and opera, as well, including recent performances of Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma!, Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, L'Enfant et les Sortilege, Little Night Music, South Pacific, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Carmen, My Fair Lady, Will Rodgers' Follies, Into the Woods, Crazy for You, The Pajama Game, Man of La Mancha, and many others.
Pickett is a very popular public speaker and dedicates tremendous time and energy to raising the profile of the arts in the communities he serves. He is regular speaker at all the service organizations in Redding, Chico, and Juneau, and is frequently invited by the Chancellor of the University of Alaska, Southeast to speak on the UAS lecture series. He has addressed Leadership Redding and is regularly invited to speak at the annual Classics for Kids evening in Redding to raise funds to purchase instruments for local schoolchildren. Last year he was a featured speaker at the inaugural TEDx Redding Conference, where his talk focused on the importance of live music as an essential and rare expression of community in modern society. In June, he will share the podium with John Frohnmeyer, former head of the National Endowment of the Arts, at an evening in Redding celebrating the accomplishments of the North State Symphony.
As a dedicated pioneer in innovative family concerts and community outreach, Pickett worked to secure a $100,000.00 grant from the Redding-based McConnell Foundation to sponsor a new multimedia children's symphony concert with award-winning family musician Dr. Noize - aka Cory Cullinan, Pickett's fellow Stanford alum - titled Dr. Noize Crashes the Symphony. This funny and unorthodox introduction to orchestral music breaks new ground in audience participation and was premiered by the North State Symphony under Pickett's baton in 2012. Pickett and the NSS can also be heard accompanying Dr. Noize and Metropolitan Opera star Nathan Gunn on Dr. Noize's latest album, The Return Of Phineas McBoof. Pickett and Dr. Noize have performed their family concerts together with the Juneau Symphony, the North State Symphony, and the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra. Pickett has also led the charge to bring symphonic music to the masses by collaborating with the Redding Convention Center to bring a popular country music performer to join the North State Symphony this fall.
Pickett has introduced his audiences to many accessible and exciting new works for the orchestral repertoire, carefully selecting pieces that will entertain his audiences while also educating his communities about each new work he has performed. Pickett has given West Coast, Alaska, Mexico, and world premiere performances of new symphonic works by Lowell Lieberman, Ricardo Lorenz, Joan Tower, Joseph Schwantner, Dan Pinkston, Russell Burnham, David Colson, and Cory Cullinan. He has worked with many renowned guest artists, including award-winning pianists Jon Nakamatsu, Brian Ganz, Spencer Myer, Roy Bogas, and Alexander Tutunov, clarinetist Jon Manasse, violinists Paul and Linda Rosenthal and Nadya Tichman, soprano Heidi Melton, and percussionist Ricardo Gallardo.
A native of Los Gatos, California, Pickett holds a Bachelor's degree in music from Stanford University and a Master's degree in choral conducting from the California State University, Chico, where he studied with William Ramsay. His Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting was conferred by the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore under the direction of Frederik Prausnitz. Pickett is also an accomplished flutist whose teachers include Frances Blaisdell, the first woman to attend Juilliard and play in the New York Philharmonic, and Robert Willoughby.
Kyle and his wife, Alice, an actress and theatre director, along with their two sons moved to Springfield, MO in 2013. He and his family are all also avid waterskiers and Kyle competes in tournament slalom events.