Born in Chicago, Jeffery Meyer began his musical studies as a pianist, and shortly thereafter continued on to study composition and conducting. Since 2002 he has been the Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Russia, one of St. Petersburg’s most innovative and progressive ensembles. He has appeared with orchestras in the United States and abroad, including ensembles such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, Sichuan Symphony and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa. In recent concert seasons, he has been seen conducting, performing as piano soloist and chamber musician, as well as conducting from the keyboard in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Norway and throughout Eastern and Southeastern Asia.
Called “one of the most interesting and creatively productive conductors working in St. Petersburg” by Sergei Slonimsky, he is an active participant in the music of our time, has collaborated with dozens of composers, and commissioned and premiered numerous new works. The New York Times described his performances with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in its United States debut at Symphony Space’s 2010 “Wall-to-Wall, Behind the Wall” Festival in New York City as “impressive,” “powerful,” “splendid,” and “blazing.” His programming has been recognized with three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award for Programming. In 2007, he made his Glinka Hall conducting debut in the final concert of the 43rd St. Petersburg “Musical Spring” International Festival featuring works by three of St. Petersburg’s most prominent composers. In 2009, he conducted the opening concert of the 14th International Musical Olympus Festival at the Hermitage Theatre and was recently invited back to perform in the 2011 festival. He has also been featured numerous times as both a conductor and pianist as part of the “Sound Ways” International New Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the summer of 2011, he returned to China as the guest conductor of the 2011 Beijing International Composition Workshop at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, and in 2012 conducted at the Thailand International Composition Festival. He has been distinguished in several international competitions (2008 Cadaqués Orchestra Conducting Competition, 2003 Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition, 2003 Beethoven Sonata International Piano Competition, Memphis Tennessee) and was a prizewinner in the 2008 X. International Conducting Competition “Antonio Pedrotti” and the winner of the 2013 American Prize in Conducting.
As a pianist, Meyer has been in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Aspen Festival as part of the Furious Band. He performs frequently with percussionist Paul Vaillancourt as part of the piano-percussion duo Strike, which, in January 2010, released an album of world-premiere recordings of works written for the duo on Luminescence Records, Chicago.
The duo has appeared in the International Contemporary Music Festival “Sound Ways” (St. Petersburg, Russia), Beijing Modern Festival (China), Tianjin Conservatory (China) and the Thailand International Composition Festival (Thailand). Most recently the ensemble was in residence at the UMKC Conservatory and was presented at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg as part of the Sound Series/Music on the Edge 2013-14 season. He has been broadcast on CBC, has recorded and performed with the Philadelphia Virtuosi (Naxos), and has been heard as a soloist at the Aspen Festival.
During the 2001-2002 academic year he lived and studied in Berlin and Leipzig as the recipient of a DAAD grant in music, during which time he wrote incidental music to David Mamet's Duck Variations, which was performed throughout Berlin by the theater group Heimspieltheater.
Passionate about working with young musicians and music education, Meyer is the Director of Orchestras at Arizona State University, one of the top schools of music in the United States, and is an active adjudicator, guest clinician, and masterclass teacher. Prior to his appointment at ASU, he was the Director of Orchestras at Ithaca College for over a decade. He has judged competitions throughout the United States, including Alaska, as well as at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival. He has given masterclasses throughout the United States as well as Canada and Asia, and recently led conducting masterclasses at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, Tianjin Conservatory, the Jacobs School at Indiana University, the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna and the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has served on the faculties of the Icicle Creek Music Center, Rocky Ridge Music Center, Dorian Keyboard Festival, Opusfest Chamber Music Festival (Philippines), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Marrowstone Music Festival, and the LSM Academy and Festival.
Recent and upcoming activities include appearances throughout Southeast Asia including a guest residency in orchestral training at Tianjin Conservatory, the 2016 Singapore International Festival of Music, and concerts with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Philharmonic, and appearances with the Phoenix Symphony in Arizona, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble X in New York, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Chamber Orchestra in Indiana, Alia Musica in Pittsburgh, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa in Mexico, the MiNensemblet in Norway, and the Portland-Columbia Symphony in Oregon.
"The beet is the most intense of all vegetables" - Tom Robbins
THE ARTIST'S JOB is to wake up the yearning in individuals who live in a culture that is diabolically designed to squelch it everywhere. To wake up that yearning and guide it into activities and experiences that produce the satisfaction, the reward of making connections that expand their sense of the world and makes us hungry for more. The pleasure that brings them back. - Eric Booth
My activities as an artist center around two central ideas:
1. Creating and enabling the highest level music making from myself and those I interact with, and
2. Creatively promoting meaningful artistic experience through performance, community, outreach and education, deepening and enriching the lives of those who come in contact with art.
All orchestras of today must have at their core a mission of continuing to build an audience for classical music; we are promoting art, and a living art, at that. We have the important privilege and duty of breathing life into masterpieces both old and new written by some of the most inspired human beings that have ever walked the earth. It should be our mission to educate without preaching, to speak directly and with conviction about music’s importance in our lives, and make the point that art expands our sense of the world and our place in it. And when I say “educate”, I do not mean in the way that most remember about their least favorite classroom experiences. We must do this without being “elitist” and at the same time aspire to lift our audiences to places they couldn’t imagine before, giving them new and meaningful aesthetic experiences. We must encourage our audiences to listen actively and help them experience the emotional and spiritual pleasures of doing so. We need to reach deeply into the schools with innovative and exciting programs to put classical music within our children’s reach. We must engage the community locally and regionally. A successful organization will collaborate with museums, galleries and other cultural establishments (including bars and restaurants) to make sure they are deeply integrated in the community and ensure that its supporters could not imagine life without its presence in their lives.
I continue to be positive and excited about the future of classical music and orchestral performance, even in the face of nearly daily news of struggling arts organizations throughout the country and the world. I firmly believe that the orchestra itself remains one of the most extraordinary performing entities we as human beings have created. What can match such an impressive number of highly trained and passionate musicians playing some of the world’s most exciting and moving music? Today’s environment demands that we as artists and arts organizations be profoundly creative in how we promote this art form.
In the words of Eric Booth at his 2012 New England Conservatory commencement speech: “[the artist’s] job is to wake up the yearning in individuals who live in a culture that is diabolically designed to squelch it everywhere. To wake up that yearning and guide it into activities and experiences that produce the satisfaction, the reward of making connections that expand their sense of the world and makes us hungry for more. The pleasure that brings them back.”
I see today’s cultural struggles as an opportunity: an opportunity to have a hand in moving music and music making forward deep into the 21st century and to give the audience that pleasure that brings them back again and again.