We are Iridas
Iridas was formed in 2015 by composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Matt Smith in an effort to explore the possibilities of his demanding musical style. Matt met violinist Megan Shung and former violist Sean Lyons while they were in school together at the Cleveland Institute of Music receiving classical training of the highest caliber. After moving to Los Angeles, they added cellist Pierre Derycz to their line-up, and the quartet sought to blend Matt’s background in contemporary classical music with rock and electronic dance music. In 2017, Mikala Schmitz joined the band, replacing Pierre on the cello, and in 2018, Sean was replaced by Dmitri Yevstifeev, a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays viola, mandolin, and guitar. The new line-up shares a passion for jazz and hip-hop, which has begun to have a profound impact on the band’s already unique voice.
The Iridas sound, shaped primarily by composer Matt Smith, reaches deep into music history for influence. The lush harmonies and colors of Maurice Ravel combined with the rhythmic and textural intricacy of Gyorgy Ligeti add fuel to the instrumental fire, but Iridas is far from a classical piano quartet. The band’s desire to engage with jazz, hip-hop, rock and a variety of other styles have all made an impact. The result is unrecognizable simply as classical crossover - Iridas is something new.
Keyboards, Trombone, Electronics / Matt Smith
Violin / Megan Shung
Viola, Mandolin, Guitar / Dmitri Yevstifeev
Cello / Mikala Schmitz
Smith grew up in San Diego, CA, where he began studying piano at the age of six and trombone at the age of twelve. His first interest in composition was sparked by music for film and video games, and to this day his music retains a similarly narrative quality.
His music has been performed by a variety of ensembles in a myriad of venues, from a conference on artificial intelligence at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to the home of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Severance Hall. Smith has also produced a wide variety of electronic works, including music for a planetarium show at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and several short film scores. He is currently an outspoken advocate of integrating classical performance and composition techniques with a more populist electronic idiom, a style dubbed “electro-chamber.”
Smith attended school at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he completed a Master’s degree in 2012 and Bachelor’s degree in 2010. He studied composition with Margaret Brouwer and Keith Fitch, and electronic music with Steven Mark Kohn. He has also been a student at the Aspen Music Festival and Atlantic Music Festival, studying with George Tsontakis, Sheridan Seyfried, Stephen Cabbell, Andrew Thomas, and Robert Cuckson.
For the 2010-11 concert season, Smith served as a fellow for both the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Canton Symphony Orchestra. For the 2011-12 season, he continued his Canton Symphony fellowship with a new commission for chamber orchestra, premiered in 2013. Other honors include the 2010 and 2012 Donald Erb Prize in composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as an honorable mention in the 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould competition. Smith is also a regular collaborator with a number of new artists, including rapper A.J. Crew, singer-songwriter IAMEVE, Phantom Brass, and Aditya Prakash. He currently serves as the head of the music theory department at the Little Chopin Piano School.
In 2014, Smith founded the electro-chamber ensemble Iridas. Blurring the line between a classical chamber ensemble and a progressive rock band with electronics, Iridas is rapidly becoming one of Los Angeles’ most adventurous new music projects.
An active performer and studio musician in the Los Angeles area, Megan is currently the electric 5-string violinist for Iridas, an electro-chamber ensemble, whose goal is to create and encourage more meaningful hybridization of modern classical music and populist music. She also performs regularly as the concertmaster of the Lake Avenue Chamber Orchestra in Pasadena. In addition, She is adept at non-traditional performance practices and styles, including jazz, rock, pop, and experimental music. She has collaborated with many artists including Kimbra, Watsky, Richard Clayderman, Sudan Archives, Clipping, Dalal, AJ Crew, Jonah Levine, Aditya Prakash and collaborates regularly with many other composers in the LA area.
Megan graduated with a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music with honors, studying under David Updegraff, and also earned her Suzuki pedagogy certifications with Kimberly Meier-Sims. Upon graduation, she continued her studies with Paul Kantor in Houston, TX for two years. Other mentors include Tim Kliphuis, Evan Price, Richard Schwabe and Henry Gronnier. Megan’s honors include the 2011 Dr. Jerome D. Gross Prize in Violin from the Cleveland Institute of Music and 2008 International House of Blues Foundation Ambassador Scholarship. She is currently a Suzuki violin/viola faculty and department coordinator at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. In addition, she spends her summer teaching at numerous institutes with a specialty in jazz and improv.
Dmitri Yevstifeev has performed as both a chamber musician and soloist across the United States and internationally, having performed and worked with many highly regarded musicians including former members of the Tokyo String Quartet, the Juilliard String Quartet, the Guarneri String Quartet, the Calder Quartet, Robert Chen, Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, and Paul Coletti, virtuoso violist, among many others. During his time in Los Angeles, Dmitri has played for a number of studio sessions for film productions and local Los Angeles Artists, including Judith Hill, BBC’s Planet Earth II, and Netflix’s Chef’s Table. In addition to his many formal performances, Dmitri often performs on the streets and in coffee shops and bars from Santa Monica’s 3rd St. Promenade to Los Angeles’s downtown Financial District and many other locations, performing everything from Bach to bluegrass to jazz. Most recently, Dmitri has worked as part of the Lincoln Center Stage program, traveling and performing chamber music aboard Holland America Line cruise ships all over the world. Starting violin at the age of 5 in his hometown of Rochester NY, Dmitri grew up playing both classical and traditional Irish American music, and was also part of the Rochester Boy’s Choir for many years, where he served as Head Chorister. After switching to viola at age 14, Dmitri took his studies to Cleveland (Cleveland Institute of Music), Baltimore (Peabody Conservatory), and finally to Los Angeles (Colburn Conservatory of Music). In addition to viola and violin, Dmitri plays guitar and mandolin and sings in his free time, always seeking to learn more and improve in his music.
Hailed by San Francisco Civic Center for her "...professional and highest caliber of playing," Los Angeles-based cellist Mikala Schmitz is an avid performer of many different styles of cello playing. Ms. Schmitz often finds herself crossing over into a variety of musical genres. From Americana folk, to classical, jazz, electronic, and baroque, Mikala continues to find new and fascinating collaborative avenues. Fostering her love for crossover, Ms. Schmitz recently joined the electro-chamber group Iridas, a classically inspired fusion of impressionism and the contemporary. Ms. Schmitz performs and collaborates regularly with musicians and composers in the Los Angeles area. Mikala's work with the English rock group The Last Shadow Puppets took her all over Europe, playing for sold-out audiences nationally and internationally. Mikala has performed and toured with Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band, and you can also hear her on television shows such as Netflix's Chef's Table and HBO's The Brink. Ms. Schmitz will resume her award-winning tenure this fall with Tim Robbins's acting troupe, The Actors' Gang, on their production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The 2014/2015 tours made their way through China, Italy, Tennessee, Brazil, France, and Spain. The score for the production, co-written by Ms. Schmitz and music director David Robbins, received a 2014 Ovations Honors for Composition for a Play.
Mikala holds a B.M. degree from Oberlin College Conservatory, where she studied cello with Darrett Adkins as well as baroque cello and viola da gamba with Catharina Meints. Ms. Schmitz also holds a M.M. degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with The Cleveland Orchestra's assistant principal cellist, Richard Weiss, and played with the Case/CIM Baroque Orchestra and the Case Western Reserve Viol Consort. Additionally, Ms. Schmitz has participated in numerous music festivals, including Encore School for Strings, Aspen Music Festival and School, the Tanglewood Music Festival for two summers, and the American Bach Soloists Festival Academy.