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Jesse Jones: persona mechanica


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PERSONA MECHANICA (preview performance)

Posted on March 7, 2017 by Jesse Jones

P E R S O N A    M E C H A N I C A,  jj.57
a concerto for solo piano & chamber orchestra

In preparation for the world premiere, Xak Bjerken previewed Persona Mechanica with Chris Younghoon Kim (conductor) and Ensemble X in Ithaca, New York. 

The work unfolds in three contrasting movements:

I. Giocosa, a playful episode where the machine gradually takes shape and explores different personae.

II. Dolente, a plaintive  yet loving tribute to my late teacher and mentor, composer Steven Stucky.

III. Gioiosa, a joyful and virtuoso romp with all manner of finger-twisting fun for soloist and orchestra alike.

Stay tuned for pictures and audio from the World Premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia!

Persona Mechanica was supported by New Music USA.

More Updates ▼

Persona Mechanica (1st rehearsal/piano read through), Mvmn’t I Excerpt

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Jesse Jones

My new piano concerto, Persona Mechanica, is finished! After months of work, I’m so excited to finally hear the piano part in the able hands of Xak Bjerken.   

Avaloch residency

Posted on July 15, 2016 by Xak Bjerken

The week of July 18th, Jesse and I will collaborate on Persona Mechanica at the Avaloch Farm New Music Initiative in New Hampshire


— XB


Concerto for Piano and Sinfonietta: persona mechanica  

Jesse Jones’ music straddles two worlds: his ensemble works display a structural clarity and textural complexity that is modernist in spirit, yet his own background as a pianist reveals a Romantic spirit of lyricism, sonorous sensuality, and gestural freedom at his “home instrument.” In persona mechanica, he will explore that overlapping paradoxical grid that is the keyboard: the mechanical/digital brilliance of its on/off nature, filtered through an exploration of the refined, vocally inflected qualities that are not inherent to the instrument. This duality of the fingertip’s ability to strike and stroke is at the core of the compositional sound world: the tone-poet must endow the machine with a soul.

This commission is part of a project premiering and recording three works for piano and sinfonietta by Grammy-winner Stephen Hartke, Rome Prize- and Guggenheim-winner Jesse Jones, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek.  Conductor Tim Weiss, director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Oberlin, has been given a grant  to record all three works, to be distributed by Naxos.



Project Media

Stephen Hartke Sonata: II — Epicycles, Tap-dancing, and a Soft Shoe
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Features: Xak Bjerken

My premiere recording of Hartke’s Piano Sonata

John Luther Adams’ In The White Silence
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Features: Tim Weiss

Tim Weiss conducting the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble


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Work for solo piano written for me by Jesse Jones in 2014

Start and End Dates



Oberlin, Ohio

3 updates
Last update on March 7, 2017

Project Created By

Pianist Xak Bjerken has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestras, The Schoenberg Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. He has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Konzerthaus in Berlin as well as at Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall and the Kennedy Center. For many years,…

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Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin, Ohio

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One response to “Jesse Jones: persona mechanica”

  1. Justus Schlichting says:

    We just watched the video of the preview. We love the piece! Terrific performance. Bravo! And thanks to all.

    Elizabeth & Justus

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