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. Jessica has premiered pieces for solo viola internationally – expanding the repertoire for viola by championing new works while also composing her own. On her 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 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 5 years ago, past 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, the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, 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 in order to find inspiration for the work.
Most recently, she was commissioned by the Juilliard School for a project with the Historical Performance Program where she was asked to respond to a movement of Haydn’s “Seven Last Words” alongside composers Reena Esmail, Colin Jacobsen, Tania León, Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, and Caroline Shaw. Upcoming commissions include works for flutist Allison Loggins-Hull for her “Diametrically Composed” project at National Sawdust, Sandbox Percussion with vocal duo Two Cities, and a work for the Lorelei Ensemble that received the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America. This work will examine female identity, grapple with themes of love and lust, relationships, and mortality, and consider the unique potential for women in the 21st century through the fragments of Sappho’s poetry translated by Ann Carson in her book, “If not, Winter”.
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 shows have been featured at iconic venues such as BAMcafé, Joe’s Pub, and Symphony Space in NYC, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and in Paris at Sunset Sunside. In her new solo show, “And She”, Jessica takes the vivid poetry of four acclaimed, living women poets and creates a journey that explores two universal experiences– the joys and heartache of love and the death of a parent. 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 around the world.