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Jessica Meyer

Bronx, NY            

With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other-worldly” (The Strad) and “evocative” (New York Times), Jessica Meyer is a versatile composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility, generosity, and emotional clarity. As a soloist and member of the award-winning and critically-acclaimed contemporary music collective counter)induction, Jessica has premiered pieces for solo viola internationally – expanding the repertoire for viola by championing new works while also composing her own. Of her recent appearance at The TANK Center for Sonic Arts, where she wrote a solo piece on site for this destination concert venue that boasts a 20-second reverb, Alex Ross of the New Yorker says, “Meyer’s fierce-edged playing activated the Tank’s awe-inspiring properties.”

Meyer’s compositions 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. Recent premieres include performances by the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, cellist Amanda Gookin for her Forward Music Project at National Sawdust, soprano Melissa Wimbish for her Carnegie Hall debut, Sybarite 5, PUBLIQuartet, NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner, and a work for A Far Cry commissioned by the Isabella 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 in order to find inspiration for the work. Upcoming commissions include works for flutist Allison Loggins-Hull for her “Diametrically Composed” project, the Lorelei Ensemble, Sandbox Percussion with vocal duo Two Cities, and for a project with the Historical Performance Program at The Juilliard School that also includes composers Reena Esmail, Colin Jacobsen, Tania León, Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, and Caroline Shaw.

As a solo performer, Ms. Meyer uses a single simple loop pedal to create a virtuosic orchestral experience with her viola, voice, and hand percussion. 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 show has been featured at iconic venues such as BAMcafé and Joe’s Pub in NYC, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and in Paris at Sunset Sunside. She is also committed to creating site-specific solo performances inspired by intriguing acoustical spaces, historic places, galleries of visual art, and unlikely concert venues that can provide a rich narrative context in relation to the surrounding community. Recent events include solo performances at the TANK in Rangely, CO and at Art Space 98 to accompany a series of visual artworks by Thomas Bühler. Equally at home with many different styles of music, Jessica can regularly be seen performing on Baroque viola, improvising with jazz musicians, or collaborating with other performer/composers.

Ms. Meyer is also 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. Currently, she is most passionate about getting young classical musicians off the page to activate their own creativity, improvise, and awaken their own inner composer well before their college years.

“O Elegant Giant” for Soprano and Viola

Melissa Wimbish, Soprano & Jessica Meyer, Violist/Composer
“Space, in Chains” is a set of three songs using the text of acclaimed poet Laura Kasischke. While writing these, I had one question in mind – how can my music serve the emotional subtext of her poetry so the audience can understand its meaning on the first hearing? “O elegant giant” – a passionate depiction of the unraveling of an unexpected relationship. My deepest thanks to Melissa Wimbish for making these come alive during her Carnegie Hall debut in October of 2016.

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Ring Out, Wild Bells (for Roomful of Teeth)

I happened to be in Paris this past Easter Sunday morning, and while I was at a café three different churches within earshot started chiming to call everyone to mass. Amazing rhythms started to phase in and out of each other, so I ran outside with my phone and recorded it. This became the inspiration for “Ring Out, Wild Bells”, which is also a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (published in 1850, yet still very relevant today) that accurately sums up what I wish to see in the world.

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Through Which We Flow

This work for string orchestra is based on assertions found in Masaru Emoto’s book “The Hidden Messages in Water”, and was premiered by Julian Wachner with NOVUS NY. “Through Which We Flow” embodies different sonic manifestations of joy, hate, and prayer – using the resonances specifically created by string instruments and the unique acoustic of the church itself to remind us of the power of our own thoughts and actions.

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