Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

University of South Carolina

Reviewing a performance of Jesse Jones’ music by the Juilliard String quartet at Alice Tully Hall, the New York Times praised the composition as “Eloquent in its melancholy, [making] a striking impact in a poised, intense account.” And in its estimation of another performance of his work by the Juilliard Quartet, the Los Angeles Times was equally effusive: “Jones works in eerie microtones, producing glassy surfaces like a mystically still sonic pond onto which he throws pebbles and generates ripples. He employs sliding tones, fluttering effects, modal melodies and…one hears…hints of Eastern European holy Minimalism. It’s an engaging, well-written piece, grit-free.”

The music of composer Jesse Jones (born in 1978) has been performed the world over in leading venues such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (New York), the Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), Seiji Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood), the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater (Philadelphia), the Aspen Music Festival and School, San Francisco’s Nourse Theater, El Paso Pro Musica, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Paul Hindemith Foundation (Switzerland), MusicX, the American Academy in Rome (Italy), and the St. Matthäuskirche (Berlin), among others.

Leading ensembles have commissioned and performed Jones’ works, including the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin (a nonet comprised of musicians from the Berliner Philharmoniker), Alter Ego (Italy), the Argento Chamber Ensemble (New York), the Open End Ensemble, counter)induction, the Pulse Chamber Group, SO Percussion, the New Fromm Players, the Cornell Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, the Israeli Chamber Project, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Cornell Glee Club and Chorus, New York’s Camerata Notturna, and the iO and Momenta String Quartets. During their 2013–2014 season, the ever-transcendent Juilliard String Quartet performed Jones’s thirty-minute String Quartet No. 3, a work they commissioned, some nineteen times across the United States, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Prominent instrumental and vocal soloists, such as violinist Joseph Lin (Juilliard String Quartet), cellist Jeff Zeigler (Kronos Quartet), Anthony Cheung (Talea Ensemble), Xak Bjerken (Los Angeles Piano Quartet), violinist Philippe Graffin, soprano Sharon Harms (Argento Ensemble), clarinetist Chen Halevi, tenor Zach Finkelstein, saxophonist Cliff Leaman, and guitarist Kenneth Meyer, have commissioned and premiered Jones’ concerti, solo works, and chamber music. Jones’s eighteen-minute work for large wind ensemble, Through the Veil, has been released with rave reviews on the album Augenblick (Albany Records, 2012).

Among the numerous accolades Jones and his music have received are the Elliott Carter Rome Prize in Composition from the American Academy in Rome, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Heckscher Foundation Prize in Composition, Cornell’s Sage Fellowship, a Barlow Endowment Commission, the Peter Tommaney Fellowship of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship of the Aspen Music Festival and School, an Underwood New Music Reading with the American Composers Orchestra, as well as awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

As a performer, Jones has been featured on the nationally broadcast A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor where he played to an estimated live and listening audience of 6 to 10 million. From 2001 to 2005, Jones toured extensively as a vocalist and mandolinist with the genre-busting ensemble String Helix, composing much of the ensemble’s core repertoire. Jones has also been featured on the stages of the Oregon Bach Festival, the Sisters Folk Festival, the Wintergrass Mainstage, and on public television and radio. Jones also took first prize in the 2004 Columbia Gorge Mandolin Competition of the Stevenson Bluegrass Festival.

Jones holds a D.M.A. in music composition from Cornell University, where in 2012 he defended his dissertation, Microtonalis: A Systematic Approach to Microtonal Composition, a theoretical treatise on quartertone harmony which is now published internationally by Lambert Academic Publishing (Saarbrucken, Germany). While at Cornell, Jones studied composition with Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, and Kevin Ernste. In 2007, Jones earned his master’s degree (M.M.) in composition from the University of Oregon, under teachers David Crumb and Robert Kyr, and in 2005 his bachelor’s degree (B.M.) from Eastern Oregon University, under John McKinnon and Leandro Espinosa. Jones is currently Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of South Carolina, where he co-directs the critically acclaimed new music concert series, Southern Exposure.


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