About
 

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).

Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history. Artists gravitated to the hotbed of artistic experimentation and community development. Her parents – her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller – were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy.

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. She currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (Azica Records). She has received additional grants and awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, American Composers Orchestra, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization.

Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Five Slave Songs (2018) commissioned for soprano Julia Bullock by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Records from a Vanishing City (2016) for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Caught by the Wind (2016) for the Albany Symphony and the American Music Festival, and Banner (2014) – written to mark the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner – for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation.

In the 2019-20 season, new commissioned works will be premiered by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the National Choral Society, and ASCAP Foundation. Jessie is also teaming up with composer-violinist Jannina Norpoth to reimagine Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha; it is being produced by Volcano Theatre and co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts, Stanford University, Southbank Centre (London), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Additionally, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony will all perform Montgomery’s works this season.

The New York Philharmonic has selected Jessie as one of the featured composers for their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting equal voting rights in the United States to women. Other forthcoming works include a nonet inspired by the Great Migration, told from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley and to be performed by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet; a cello concerto for Thomas Mesa jointly commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, and The Sphinx Organization; and a new orchestral work for the National Symphony.

Jessie began her violin studies at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and currently a member of the Catalyst Quartet, she continues to maintain an active performance career as a violinist appearing regularly with her own ensembles, as well as with the Silkroad Ensemble and Sphinx Virtuosi.

Jessie’s teachers and mentors include Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, Alice Kanack, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel, Mark Suozzo, Ira Newborn, and Laura Kaminsky. She holds degrees from the Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a Graduate Fellow in Music Composition at Princeton University.

July 2019 – Please do not edit without permission

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Images

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Videos
 
Press

New Music Box

April 27, 2016

The Washington Post

October 11, 2012

The New York Times

October 30, 2014

 
Works
 

SOLO 

Rhapsody No. 1 (2014)   Score  

Written for Jessie Montgomery’s debut album, Strum: Music for Strings
Instrumentation: solo violin
Premiere: June, 2014, Jessie Montgomery, violin, Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC

Duration - 7 minutes

Cadenzas for Haydn Cello Concerto in D Major (2014)  (Currently Unavailable for Purchase)

Instrumentation: solo cello
Premiere: April 2014, Christine Lamprea with the Delphi Chamber Orchestra, New Haven, CT

Duration - Movement I., 1 minute, 20 seconds; Movement II., 30 seconds

CHAMBER MUSIC

Strum (2006; revised 2012)   Score   

Commissioned by: Community MusicWorks; revision by the Sphinx Organization
Instrumentation: string quartet or string quintet (also available for string orchestra)
Premiere: April 2006; revision in February 2012, The Providence String Quartet; The Catalyst Quartet; Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI

Duration - 7 Minutes

Voodoo Dolls (2008)   Score    

Commissioned by: JUMP! Dance Company of Rhode Island
Instrumentation: string quartet
Premiere: June 2008, The Providence String Quartet, The Carriage House, Providence, RI

Duration - 5 minutes

Break Away (2013)   Score     

Commissioned by: PUBLIQuartet for the Music of Now Marathon
Instrumentation: string quartet
Premiere: February 2013, PUBLIQuartet, Symphony Space, NYC

Duration - 12 minutes

Source Code (2013)   Score     

Commissioned by: the Isaiah Fund for New Initiatives in partnership with Symphony Space
Instrumentation: string quartet (also available for string orchestra)
Premiere: November 2013, The Cassatt Quartet, Symphony Space, NYC

Duration - 8 Minutes

In Color (2014)     

Commissioned by Bob Stewart
Instrumentation: tuba and string quartet
Premiere: September 2014, PUBLIQuartet and Bob Stewart, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC

Duration - 11 minutes

Three Pieces for Violin and Cello (2018) Performance

Instrumentation: violin and cello
Duration - 11 minutes
Performed by: Ensemble Pi members; Airi Yoshioka, violin Alexis Gerlach, cello 

VOCAL

I Want To Go Home, African American Spiritual (2015)

Instrumentation: soprano and string orchestra (or string quintet)
Premiere: December 29, 2015; Julia Bullock and Loisaida Collaborative, Trinity Wall Street 12th Night Festival, NYC

Duration - 4 minutes

Danse Africane (2016)

Commissioned by: Young People's Chorus of New York, Transient Glory Series
Instrumentation: youth chorus, SSAA
Premiere: November 4, 2016, Young People's Chorus of New York; National Sawdust, NYC
Premiere: May 2015, Community MusicWorks Players, Southside Cultural Center, Providence, RI

Loisaida, I love you (2016)     Program Notes

Commissioned by: 5 Borough Music Festival: 5 Borough Songbook, Volume II
Instrumentation: mezzo soprano and cello
Premiere: February 11, 2017, Jennifer Johnson-Cano, mezzo; Kivie Cahn-Lipman, cello; The DiMenna Center, NYC

Duration - 5 minutes
 

ORCHESTRA

Starburst (2012)   Rental     

Commissioned by: the Sphinx Organization
Instrumentation: string orchestra
Premiere: September 2012, The Sphinx Virtuosi, New World Center, Miami, FL

Duration - 3 minutes

Strum (2006; revised 2012)   Rental   

Commissioned by: Community MusicWorks; revision by the Sphinx Organization
Instrumentation: string orchestra
Premiere: April 2006; revision in February 2012, The Providence String Quartet; The Catalyst Quartet; Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI

Duration - 7 Minutes

Source Code (2013)   Rental     

Commissioned by: the Isaiah Fund for New Initiatives in partnership with Symphony Space
Instrumentation: string orchestra
Premiere: November 2013, The Cassatt Quartet, Symphony Space, NYC

Duration - 8 Minutes

Banner (2014)   Rental     

Commissioned by: the Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation
Instrumentation: solo string quartet and string orchestra or solo string quartet with chamber orchestra (2d1.1.1.1.--1.1.0.0.--timp.perc.--strings)
Premiere: September, 2014, New World Center, Miami, FL

Duration - 8 Minutes

Soul Force (2015)   Rental     

Commissioned by: The Dream Unfinished, a benefit for civil rights
Instrumentation: 2222--4331--timp--2 perc--strings
Premiere: July 2015, James Blachly, conductor, Centennial Memorial Temple, NYC

8 minutes

Caught by the Wind (2016)   Rental     

Commissioned by: The Albany Symphony, American Music Festival
Instrumentation: 2232--4331--2 perc--strings
Premiere: July 2015, James Blachly, conductor, Centennial Memorial Temple, NYC

Duration - 10 minutes

Records from a Vanishing City (2016)   Rental     

Commissioned by: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Instrumentation: 112*2--2200--timp--strings
Premiere: October 27, 2016, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium, NYC

Duration - 14 minutes

FILM MUSIC

Sketch (composer)

Lou Hamou-Lhdaj; short animation; NYU Tisch
Instrumentation: chamber orchestra

Homecoming (composer)

Josiah Signor and Gritty Committee; short film; NYU Tisch
Instrumentation: acoustic guitar and string orchestra

Bubble Tree (composer)

Ran Jing; short animation; NYU Tisch

Strings (2014)  (music supervisor)

Taner Jarman and Jarman Entertainment