Jeffery Meyer is the Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Russia as well as the Director of Orchestras at Arizona State University. He has appeared with orchestras in the United States and abroad, including ensembles such as the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, Sichuan Symphony, Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa. In recent concert seasons, he has performed as a conductor and chamber musician throughout North America, Europe, China, Russia, and Southeast Asia.
Called “one of the most interesting and creatively productive conductors working in St. Petersburg” by Sergei Slonimsky, Meyer’s work with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic has been noted for its breadth and innovation. 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 two Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Awards for Programming. In 2007, he made his Glinka Hall conducting debut in the final concert of the 43rd St. Petersburg “Musical Spring” International Festival, he conducted the opening concert of the 14th International Musical Olympus Festival at the Hermitage Theatre and was invited back to perform in the 2011 festival. He was 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 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 Music Festival. 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.
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 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.
Meyer holds degrees in piano as well as composition and completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance with Gilbert Kalish at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Conductor, pianist, once-upon-a-time juggler, magician and gymnast, and local foods eco-enthusiast.
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.
In my work with various ensembles, I have created engaging cross-cultural and cross-genre experiences for audiences and musicians alike. I have performed and commissioned works for Berimbau ensemble, the Sitar and the electric guitar, combined the folk artistry of Amber Rubarth and Dave Eggar with Berio’s Folk Songs, premiered a reimagining of the Nutcracker with Troupe Vertigo and the Phoenix Symphony, created opportunities for virtuosic Chinese traditional instrumentalists to perform and meet with their Russian folk-instrumentalists counterparts, marshaled the forces of over 300 instrumentalists, singers and dances in a fully-staged production of Bernstein’s Mass, and of course, continued to champion the bedrock orchestral literature with great passion, placing many of these works in new dynamic contexts. I have collaborated with many of the world’s most important living composers and brought countless new works to life as well as fostered dozens of emerging composers. I have reached out to underserved communities providing opportunities to experience concerts that would have otherwise been out of reach and also worked with thousands of young musicians, inspiring future generations of professional artists and passionate music-lovers.
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.