Jesse Jones

EarShot New York Philharmonic Biennial New Music ReadingsThe music of composer Jesse Jones (b.1978) has been performed in 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.

Jones’ has been commissioned by the Juilliard String Quartet, 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. 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 18-minute work for large wind ensemble, Through the Veil, has been released on the album Augenblick (Albany Records, 2012).

Jones and his music have received  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).

Jones holds a DMA 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 (MM) in composition from the University of Oregon, under teachers David Crumb and Robert Kyr, and in 2005 his Bachelor’s degree (BM) 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.

…innumerable stars, scattered in clusters

In 1609, Galileo Galilei climbed the tallest hill in Rome and looked into the night sky through an instrument of his own invention: the telescope. His initial glimpse into the cosmos led him to record that the heavens were draped with “innumerable stars, scattered in clusters.” This was the first discovery of that vast, sidereal array we now know as the Milky Way.

Four hundred years later, I found myself on that same hilltop, writing music as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. While there, I would often wake up before the sunrise and walk to my studio beneath the very same sky Galileo had observed so many centuries earlier. At these moments, when the city was still and the stars shone brightly, I would feel a deep connection to history, a special, timeless kinship with Galileo, and, above all, an urge to be productive with my allotted time. So, I decided to write an orchestra piece about the mysterious and expansive nature of both time and space, and found it fitting to use Galileo’s words as a title.