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Jessie Montgomery named Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s next composer-in-residence

The composer, violinist and educator is also the winner of both the Sphinx Medal of Excellence and the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award.

Jessie Montgomery is the newly appointed Mead composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Jessie Montgomery is the newly appointed Mead composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Jiyang Chen

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday announced the appointment of Jessie Montgomery as the next Mead Composer-in-Residence.

Appointed by CSO music director Riccardo Muti, Montgomery will begin her three-year post on July 1.

“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has an important tradition of sharing new music with audiences. I am looking forward to continuing that tradition and introducing audiences to the music of composer Jessie Montgomery, whose work I have come to know and admire, in making this selection of the orchestra’s next composer-in-residence,” Muti said.

A composer, musician and educator, Montgomery is also the winner of the the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization (“a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts,” according to its website), which recognizes extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians; and the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award in support of emerging composers.

In her new role, Montgomery will receive commissions to write three new orchestral works for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, according to Tuesday’s announcement, and curate the CSO’s MusicNow contemporary music series, which will feature the Chicago premieres of some of her existing works. A series of newly commissioned chamber pieces will premiere in the final two seasons of her tenure.

“I am deeply grateful to Maestro Muti for having faith in my experience and perspective, for giving me the chance to bring new and exciting music to the CSO, and for sharing his artistry to premiere my own works for symphony orchestra,” Montgomery said. “In my curatorial role, I’m particularly excited about engaging more closely with the new music community in and around Chicago, as well as bridging connections between the CSO and other artists, especially composers with diverse backgrounds, experiences and approaches to music creation.”

Montgomery’s commissioned works have been presented by the Albany Symphony, the American Music Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Joyce Foundation, the National Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Young People’s Chorus of New York, among others.

On May 20, Montgomery will join current Mead Composer-in-Residence, Missy Mazzoli, in the livestreamed “From the Composer’s Studio,” an in-depth conversation about “what it means to be a composer working with symphony orchestras in 2021.” A Q&A will follow the 6 p.m. presentation, which is free and open to the public; advance reservations are required and can be made here.