Composer/Violist Jessica Meyer Unveils 23/24 Season Featuring Lorelei Portrait Album, World Premieres And More

In fall 2023, Meyer was appointed to the prestigious Manhattan School of Music's viola faculty.

By: Oct. 02, 2023
Composer/Violist Jessica Meyer Unveils 23/24 Season Featuring Lorelei Portrait Album, World Premieres And More

Jessica Meyer is an award-winning composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility and emotional clarity.

In fall 2023, Meyer was appointed to the prestigious Manhattan School of Music's viola faculty. Of her new appointment, Meyer shares, "I have been wanting a place to teach where I can finally park all that I know as a violist and empower an army of students to be inspiring soloists/ chamber/ symphonic/ new music/ anywhere/ anything performers. To thrive in the 21st century as an artist, we have to not wait to be chosen - but instead choose ourselves."

MSM's Dean of Instrumental Studies and Orchestral Performance, JT Kane, agrees, "MSM is thrilled to welcome Jessica Meyer to the viola faculty. Jessica's impressive background as a pedagogue, soloist, chamber musician, and composer, combined with her belief in the mission of MSM and our commitment to Cultural Inclusion, will enhance our student's experience and help them grow and become the best musicians and citizens possible. We couldn't be happier that she accepted our offer to be part of the MSM family."

Highlights of Meyer's upcoming 2023-24 season include the world premieres of two new commissioned pieces: In the Path of Totality, co-commissioned by fivebyfive and the Rochester Museum and Science Center in honor of the April 2024 total eclipse, and with a gift for burning commissioned by the Brooklyn Art Song Society for their New Voices Festival. The season also features the New York premieres of two works: A Passage Between Earth and Sky by NOVUS NY and Avenue of the Giants performed by the Dorian Quintet at Music Mondays. In between these highly-anticipated premieres are a variety of performances of Meyer's compositions across the United States, including the premiere of the Full Symphonic Band version of Go BIG or Go HOME at the Midwest Conference, followed by ROCO's performance of the same piece in Houston, and HUB New Music's performance of Spirits and Sinew at The Kennedy Center.

On Sunday, December 3, 2024 at 4:00pm, NOVUS NY presents The Sound of A New World with Sandbox Percussion in Trinity Church Wall Street, including the New York premiere of Jessica Meyer's A Passage Between Earth and Sky. Premiered by the Hausmann Quartet and Meyer at the Maritime Museum of San Diego in November 2022, A Passage Between Earth celebrates the life and death of an Italian Umbrella Pine "Igor," owned by the commissioners Michael Hostetler and Erica Pascal. Meyer writes, "The Overstory" by Richard Powers was a book that Erica recommended I read to get into the mindset of how trees exist on the planet, how they grow, and how they can communicate with each other. Early on in the book, a quote immediately grabbed my attention - about how a tree can "be a passage between earth and sky." The program will also feature Viet Cuong's Re(new)al and pieces inspired by Richard Powers' powerful novel on activism, resistance, and the natural world.

Colonel Jason Fettig leads The "President's Own United States Marine Band" in the premiere of the full, symphonic band version of Meyer's Go BIG or Go HOME at The Midwest Clinic in Chicago on Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at 8:15am. The performance will be Col. Fettig's last before handing over the baton to Maj. Ryan J. Nowlin as the incoming Director. This marks the second commission of Meyer's music by the Marine Band, following her Press On, a finalist for the National Band Association's Revelli Prize, which will be released on the band's forthcoming December 2023 album.

On Saturday, January 20, 2024 and Sunday January 21, 2024 at 4:00pm, artist-led ensemble fivebyfive premieres Jessica Meyer's newly commissioned piece In the Path of Totality, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), at a special eclipse-inspired program Light & Dark: Eclipse Music at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. This new work outlines the actual process of an eclipse: the anticipation, first contact, second contact, "Bailey's beads", totality (in which the length of this section of the piece is the same length of totality folks in Maine will experience), and the Diamond Ring effect (when the sun blindingly reappears from behind the moon). Meyer shares, ""Afterglow" is a purely emotional response to what I can imagine to feel after witnessing such an event while also feeling the sense of community in connecting to those also present around me. As a child, one of my favorite places to go was the Vanderbilt Planetarium in Long Island, NY. I loved being enveloped by the hugeness of the screen and the depth of the sounds while learning about how our world exists within the universe. That feeling of awe still rushed through me whenever I brought my son to Hayden Planetarium here in NYC. After becoming a composer, I noticed that nature and emotional states are recurring themes in my work. So when this project came about to write a piece commemorating the upcoming 2024 eclipse that would be premiered in an actual planetarium, I have to say my inner child was quite happy." The April 2024 total lunar eclipse is expected to be most visible near Rochester, NY, inviting a flurry of tourist activity and inspiring Meyer's In the Path of Totality.

As part of New York City's Music Mondays, the Dorian Wind Quintet will perform the regional premiere of Meyer's Avenue of the Giants at the Advent Lutheran Church in New York on Monday, February 12, 2024 at 7:30pm. The new work is inspired by Meyer's family trip to the California Redwood Forest in 2021 and explores the various cycles of life, destruction, and renewal that exist within the grandeur of these majestic trees and the feelings experienced when among them. She shares, "Lined by titan trees, the 31-mile Avenue parallels Highway 101 and has been called the finest forest drive in the world. After pulling off the avenue and exploring, we learned about the ecosystem specific to the Redwoods. I have always found much solace in nature, and I can't imagine life without visiting the ocean or being among trees on a regular basis. They are alive, they know things, and they can whisper their secrets to us when we really take the time to be present and truly...listen."

On Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 5:00pm, ROCO will perform Meyer's Go BIG or Go HOME at The Church of St. John the Divine in Houston as part of ROCO's Season 19 theme "SUPERSONIC." The piece captures the spirit of Miami, introducing hints of funk, bluegrass, and Latin while being driven by groove, virtuosity, and moments of improvisation that allow members of the group to put their own personal signature on the piece. Sponsored by the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, the program is led by Belgian guest conductor Delyana Lazarova and will also feature Elfrida Andree's fiery Symphony No. 2 in a minor, Richard Danielpour's Symphony in Three Movements After the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, Franz Schubert's Overture in the Italian Style D. 591, and Dobrinka Tabakova's Fantasie Homage to Schubert.

On Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 7:30pm, Hub New Music will perform Meyer's Spirits and Sinew for flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin and cello at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of the ensemble's 10th anniversary commissioning project. Meyer's work is inspired by Marie Laveau, Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, healer, herbalist, and prominent religious leader, midwife, and community activist. John F. Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon will also lead a small ensemble in his Requiem for the Enslaved on a program that invokes African American spirituals and the form of a Catholic liturgical mass.

On Friday, March 22, 2024, New Focus Recordings will release I long and seek after, Meyer's second composer portrait album featuring performances by the Lorelei Ensemble and a virtuosic collective of instrumentalists and vocalists. Inspired by female empowerment, the title track, "I long and seek after", uses Anne Carson's translation of Sappho fragments in a 21st Century response to Schumann's famed song cycle "Frauenliebe und Leben." Meyer shares, "Ever since I started composing, I have been dedicated to writing art song - mostly where instruments besides the piano evocatively give sonic emotional support to vocalists. This album will showcase the many collaborations I have had over the years that set poetry written by female and underrepresented writers that tackle themes of loneliness, love, and heartbreak. I wanted to depict women having the courage to live their life boldly, while growing older gracefully, assuredly, and proudly."

To close the season, Brooklyn Art Song Society premieres Meyer's with a gift for burning on Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 7:30pm at the First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn in New York as part of the New Voices Festival 2024: Departures III. The program revolves around two poems by Adrienne Rich that are a visceral dive into loneliness and how love can happen in our lives "like car crashes, books that change us, and neighborhoods we move into and come to love." In addition, the performance will also include Lembit Beecher's Looking at Spring, a new work by Daniel Felsenfeld exploring themes of loneliness and pandemic-era songs by Caroline Shaw and Alex Weiser.

The Orchestra of the League of Composers recently published a new video of Meyer's performance as a featured soloist in the world premiere of her own GAEA: Concerto for Amplified Viola and Chamber Orchestra at Columbia University's Miller Theatre in New York. The work took inspiration from the Greek mythology of Gaea and incorporated the virtuosity of baroque string playing from Meyer. Watch the video.

Jessica Meyer 2023-2024 Season Calendar

Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 4:00pm [New York Premiere]
NOVUS NY Performs A Passage Between Earth and Sky
Trinity Church | New York, NY

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at 8:15am
Full-Symphonic Band premiere of Go BIG or Go HOME
The Midwest Clinic, Marine Barracks Annex | Chicago, IL

January 20-21, 2024 at 4:00pm
fivebyfive Premieres In the Path of Totality Celebrating 2024 Eclipse [World Premiere]
Rochester Planetarium | Rochester, NY

Monday, February 12, 2024 at 3:00pm
Music Mondays: Dorian Wind Quintet Performs Avenue of the Giants [New York Premiere]
Advent Lutheran Church | Broadway, NY

Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 5:00pm
ROCO Performs Go BIG or Go HOME
The Church of St. John the Divine | Houston, TX

Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 7:30pm
HUB New Music Performs Spirits & Sinew
The Kennedy Center | Washington D.C.

Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 7:30pm
Brooklyn Art Song Society Premieres with a gift for burning [World Premiere]
First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn | Brooklyn, NY

About Jessica Meyer

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 composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility and emotional clarity. Her first composer/performer portrait album, Ring Out (Bright Shiny Things, 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).

Her first Symphonic Band piece was recently premiered by the President's Own Marine Band (first at Strathmore then the NY premiere in Carnegie Hall), and her orchestral works have been performed by the 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 chamber/solo premieres included included works for the Dorian Wind Quintet, Hausmann Quartet, Hub New Music, the Portland Youth Philharmonic in collaboration with the female vocal ensemble In Mulieribus, and her viola concerto "GAEA" with the Orchestra of the League of Composers 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 eight 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.

As a solo performer, Meyer is internationally renowned for her use of 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, Meyer 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.

Jessica 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, New York University, the Chamber Music America Conference, and at various universities around the country. Meyer 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. In addition to teaching virtual workshops, 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 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 past summer, she served as the Composer in Residence for the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival and led their Emerging Composer Program. Starting in the Fall of 2023, she joined the Viola Faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. Learn more at

*Photo Credit: Lloyd Bishop

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