With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other-worldly” (The Strad) and “evocative” (The New York Times), Jessica Meyer is a GRAMMY® – nominated violist and composer whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility and emotional clarity. Her first composer/performer portrait album recently 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).
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 only six years ago, premieres have included performances by acclaimed vocal ensembles Roomful of Teeth and Vox Clamantis, the American Brass Quintet, cellist Amanda Gookin for her Forward Music Project, Sybarite 5, PUBLIQuartet, NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street, and a work for A Far Cry commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. As part of the residency, Ms. Meyer lived in the museum itself for a week to immerse herself in the creatively curated life and collected art of Mrs. Gardner to find inspiration for the work.
Her orchestral works have been performed by the North Carolina Symphony, the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, Charlotte Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, and the Studio Orchestra at Peabody Conservatory. Recently, she was just announced the winner of the 2nd Annual Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer’s Award, which will fund a commission for the Bangor Symphony in 2022-23. Upcoming orchestral engagements include performances by the Auburn Symphony, a concerto for herself with the League of Composers Orchestra to be premiered in Miller Theatre, and interactive performances in Carnegie Hall and around the country as part of their nationwide Link Up Program.
Recent chamber works include commissions by 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. This season includes being Composer-in-Residence at Spoleto USA; a premiere at the National Gallery of Art; and works for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, flutist Allison Loggins-Hull for her “Diametrically Composed” project at National Sawdust, and for Sandbox Percussion with vocal duo Two Cities called “20 Minutes of Action” – which was awarded a commissioning grant from New Music USA. This work uses passages from Chanel Miller’s Victim Impact Statement and her powerful memoir to tell the story of the aftermath of being sexually attacked by Brock Turner at a Stanford University party. The text was then sequenced and arranged to express the stages of grief and acceptance established by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, and culminates in a final movement that mirrors the empowering work Chanel has done as an advocate for social change.
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 performing on Baroque viola, improvising with jazz musicians, or collaborating with other composer-performers.
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. 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.