The inaugural Heifetz Ensemble in Residence (HEIR) program offered our musicians the opportunity to explore and perform not only solo and chamber music masterworks, but also less familiar repertory, with an emphasis on historically underrepresented and contemporary composers. One such composer, whose works quickly became a favorite of our musicians and audiences alike, was Jessie Montgomery, whose pieces 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, and her experiences inspired a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy. Jessie is 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, and was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition, whose winners are awarded full scholarships to attend the Heifetz Institute.
The second session of our HEIR program performed two of Montgomery’s works during their residency: the wildly creative piece for string quartet, Strum, and the stunning Rhapsody No. 1, performed here by violinist Noelle Naito. In the words of Strings magazine, Montgomery “manages to project a distinctly individual voice while at the same time drawing effortlessly on wildly varying registers and influences that, with less imaginative musicians, might come across as rambling eclecticism.” Enjoy this performance from the Great Hall at the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center in Staunton, VA, and get ready to hear more from this exceptional composer during our 2021 Festival of Concerts.
Acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator Jessie Montgomery is a recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation