Jessie Montgomery


Born in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Montgomery received a Bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School in Violin Performance in 2003. She joined Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, and became a member of the Providence String Quartet. She was a founding member of PUBLIQuartet, and has performed in the Catalyst Quartet. She is currently touring with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Since 1999, she has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players. In 2012, she completed her graduate degree in Composition for Film and Multimedia at New York University.

In 2009 Montgomery was commissioned by the Providence String Quartet and Community MusicWorks to write Anthem: A tribute to the historical election of Barack Obama. “In that piece,” she says, “I wove together the theme from the Star Spangled Banner with the commonly named Black National Anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson (which coincidentally share the exact same phrase structure).

When the Sphinx Organization commissioned a new work, Montgomery responded with Banner, which was introduced in September, 2014 of that year at the New World Center in Miami. Montgomery calls the work “a tribute to the 200th Anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner…. Scored for solo string quartet and string orchestra, Banner is a rhapsody on the theme of the Star Spangled Banner. Drawing on musical and historical sources from various world anthems and patriotic songs, I’ve made an attempt to answer the question: ‘What does an anthem for the 21st century sound like in today’s multicultural environment?’ Banner picks up where Anthem left off by using a similar backbone source in its middle section, but expands further both in the amount of references and also in the role play of the string quartet as the individual voice working both with and against the larger community of the orchestra behind them…. The Star Spangled Banner is an ideal subject for exploration in contradictions. For most Americans the song represents a paradigm of liberty and solidarity against fierce odds, and for others it implies a contradiction between the ideals of freedom and the realities of injustice and oppression.”