College Faculty Viola
With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other-worldly” (The Strad) and “evocative” (The New York Times), Jessica Meyer is an award-winning violist and composer whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility and emotional clarity. Her first composer/performer portrait album in 2019 debuted at #1 on the Billboard traditional classical chart, where “knife-edge anticipation opens on to unexpected, often ecstatic musical realms, always with a personal touch and imaginatively written for the instruments” (Gramophone magazine).
As a solo performer, Ms. Meyer uses a single simple loop pedal to create a virtuosic orchestral experience with her viola and voice. Drawing from wide-ranging influences which include Bach, Brahms, delta blues, flamenco, Indian raga, and Appalachian fiddling, Meyer’s music takes audience members on a journey through joy, anxiety, anger, bliss, torment, loneliness and passion. Her solo shows have been featured at iconic venues such as BAMcafé, Joe’s Pub, and Symphony Space in NYC, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, in Paris at Sunset Sunside, in addition to venues in Singapore, Switzerland, Vietnam, the Emirates and beyond. At home with many different styles of music and an ardent collaborator, Jessica can regularly be seen premiering her chamber works, creating with dancer/choreographer Caroline Fermin, performing on Baroque viola, improvising with jazz musicians, or collaborating with other composer-performers. This season brings the long-awaited premiere of “GAEA”, a concerto for herself and Chamber Orchestra at Miller Theatre in NYC.
Meyer’s compositions viscerally explore the wide palette of emotionally expressive colors available to each instrument while using traditional and extended techniques inspired by her varied experiences as a contemporary and period instrumentalist. Since embarking on her composition career nine years ago, premieres have included performances by acclaimed vocal ensembles Roomful of Teeth and Vox Clamantis, the St. Lawrence String Quartet as the composer in residence at Spoleto Festival USA, the American Brass Quintet, PUBLIQuartet, cellist Amanda Gookin for her Forward Music Project, Sybarite 5, NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street, a work for A Far Cry commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Juilliard School for a project with the Historical Performance Program, and by the Lorelei Ensemble for a song cycle that received the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.
Her first Symphonic Band piece recently had a NY Premiere to a sold-out crowd in Carnegie Hall by the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and her orchestral works have been performed by the Austin, Phoenix, North Carolina, Charlotte, and Vermont Symphonies, the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, at Tanglewood in Seiji Ozawa Hall, and all around the country as part of Carnegie Hall’s nationwide Link Up Program. She was the winner of the 2nd Annual Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer’s Award to write a piece for the Bangor Symphony, and a winner of Chamber Music America’s Commissioning Program Award to write for the Argus Quartet. Recent premieres include works for CityMusic Cleveland, musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Dorian Wind Quintet, Hausmann Quartet, Hub New Music, and the Portland Youth Philharmonic in collaboration with the female vocal ensemble In Mulieribus.
Ms. Meyer is equally known for her inspirational work as an educator, where she empowers musicians with networking, communication, teaching, and entrepreneurial skills so they can be the best advocates for their own careers. Her workshops have been featured at the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, for the Teaching Artists of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music, the Longy School of Music, NYU, the Chamber Music America Conference, and at various universities around the country. Jessica has conducted hundreds of workshops for students and adults for Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Caramoor, the Little Orchestra Society, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Currently, she is most passionate about getting musicians of all ages off the page to activate their own creativity, improvise, and awaken their own inner composer – which in turn makes them better performers. Her most recent engagements have been for the Moab Music Festival, the National Youth Orchestra of Carnegie Hall, and for the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute. For the past two years, she created and led a Teen Composer Intensive at New England Music Camp so that teens of all abilities can develop their craft, amass recordings for their portfolio, and connect with both professional and student performers. This summer, she will serve as the Composer in Residence for the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival and lead their Emerging Composer Program.
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