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Jessica Meyer, Sounds of Being
the cell
New York, NY
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Jessica Meyer, Sounds of Being

"two of the festival's most alluring programs are recitals by string players who also compose."
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

In my new 50 minute solo show "Sounds of Being," I perform a set of my pieces for viola and electronics that presents the question:

"How can certain sounds convey a specific emotional experience?"

My pieces explore some of my favorite musical sounds and styles that I have either performed over the years or listened to in my car  from  Bach, Brahms, and Blues, to Flamenco, Indian Raga, and Appalachian fiddling.

I love performing fragile timbres, wailing gestures, and percussive grooves to make my instrument sound like a drum, an electric guitar, an Indian sarangi, or an extension of my own voice.

The loop pedal helps me combine all of these sounds together to form an entire orchestra of emotion.

This will be a surround-sound sensory experience where both music and storytelling take the audience on a journey filled with joy, anxiety, closeness, anger, bliss, torment, loneliness, and passion.


Getting Home (I must be)
Into the Vortex
Afflicted Mantra
Source of Joy

1. Getting Home (I Must Be)

I was on a plane ride home, eager to see my son. An anxious rhythm popped into my head, and I used the back of my itinerary to write 90% of the piece while humming furiously in the middle seat.

2. Hello

This is that warm and fuzzy feeling you have when you're spending time with a person and they move from just being an acquaintance to something more meaningful.  Nothing is particularly said, but the connection is clearly felt.

3. Into the Vortex

You know that moment when a person, place, thing, or bad habit just sucks you right in? You know it's not good for you  but then you do it anyway.  This "bluegrass-meets-death-metal" piece is about the anger you feel because you let it happen againand you should have known better.

4. Afflicted Mantra

Like many other artists, writers, and creative people, I am prone to obsessive thinking.  Sometimes this can work in your favor while you focus your energy on a project or future goals.  But other times, it can be the very root of your undoing. The problem is not what's actually happening to you, but more about the things you do or say to yourself.  When I become overwhelmed, I often turn to yoga and the Hindu devotional music that inspired this piece.

5. Source of Joy

Here I play with the kinds of sounds that go against the typical "viola" stereotype: instead of its moody and dark persona, the instrument is transformed into a lighter version of itself to capture fleeting moments of pure happiness.
6. Touch

It is said that for babies who are born early, those who are picked up and touched are the ones who thrive and develop the fastest.  As we get older, touch means different things to different people at different times.  This piece strives to illuminate what happens inside your body on a cellular level when this basic human need is met.

7. Duende

"Duende" is a concept the poet Lorca wrote about  the moment when someone is inhabited by a mysterious and powerful force that everyone around them can feel, but no one can explain. This last piece is the quest for that moment; when the spirits rise up from the soles of your feet, and you don't give a damn about anything anymoreand you just play.


the cell (View)
338 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
United States



Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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