Jessie Montgomery and Missy Mazzoli Join Faculty of Bard College Conservatory of Music as Composers in Residence

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 L-R: Jessie Montgomery and Missy Mazzoli

The Bard College Conservatory of Music has appointed acclaimed composers Jessie Montgomery and Missy Mazzoli to the facultyas composers in residence. Composer, violinist, and educator Montgomery has been called “One of the most distinctive and communicative voices in the US, as a player and a creator” (BBC). Grammy-nominated composer, pianist, and keyboardist Mazzoli was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (New York Times). They both join the Bard Conservatory in fall 2022.

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. A recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, Montgomery’s works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter 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).

Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Shift, Change, Turn (2019) commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Coincident Dances (2018) for the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Banner (2014)—written to mark the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation, which was presented in its UK premiere at the BBC Proms on 7 August 2021.

Summer 2021 brought a varied slate of premiere performances, including Five Freedom Songs, a song cycle conceived with and written for soprano Julia Bullock, for Sun Valley and Grand Teton Music Festivals, San Francisco and Kansas City Symphonies, Boston and New Haven Symphony Orchestras, and the Virginia Arts Festival (7 August); a site-specific collaboration with Bard SummerScape Festival and Pam Tanowitz Dance, I was waiting for the echo of a better day (8 July); and Passacaglia, a flute quartet for The National Flute Association’s 49th annual convention (13 August).

Since 1999, Montgomery has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African American and Latinx string players and has served as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble.

A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and a former member of the Catalyst Quartet, Montgomery holds degrees from the Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a PhD Candidate in Music Composition at Princeton University. She is professor of violin and composition at The New School. In May 2021, she began her three-year appointment as the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. jessiemontgomery.com

Recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (New York Times), “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out NY), and praised for her “apocalyptic imagination” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), Missy Mazzoli has had her music performed by the Kronos Quartet, LA Opera, eighth blackbird, the BBC Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, Scottish Opera and many others. In 2018 she became, along with Jeanine Tesori, the first woman to receive a main stage commission from the Metropolitan Opera, and was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of “Best Classical Composition.” 

From 2018-2021 Mazzoli was Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and from 2012-2015 was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia. Her 2018 opera Proving Up, created with longtime collaborator librettist Royce Vavrek and based on a short story by Karen Russell, is a surreal commentary on the American dream. It was commissioned and premiered by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and Miller Theatre, and was deemed “harrowing… a true opera for its time” by The Washington Post

Mazzoli’s 2016 opera Breaking the Waves, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, was called “one of the best 21st-century American operas yet” by Opera NewsBreaking the Waves received its European premiere at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival; future performances are planned at LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and the Adelaide Festival. Her next opera, The Listeners, will premiere in 2022 at the Norwegian National Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera and Opera Philadelphia. 

Mazzoli is also active in the orchestral and chamber music field, recently writing new works for the National Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC Philharmonia, and the Bergen Symphony, among others. In 2016, Mazzoli and composer Ellen Reid founded Luna Lab, a mentorship program for young female, non-binary and gender nonconforming composers created in partnership with the Kaufman Music Center. 

Mazzoli attended the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and Boston University.  She has studied with (in no particular order) David Lang, Louis Andriessen, Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, Martijn Padding, Richard Ayres, John Harbison, Charles Fussell, Martin Amlin, Marco Stroppa, Ladislav Kubik, Louis DeLise and Richard Cornell.

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