Conductor, Artistic Director
One of a younger generation of conductors dedicated to new and recent repertoire, Jeffrey Means has emerged as a prominent figure in contemporary music.
Based in Boston, Means leads many of the city’s new music ensembles, including the Firebird Ensemble, Luduvico Ensemble, Callithumpian Consort, Xanthos Ensemble, and the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble. Means is also the conductor and artistic director of Sound Icon, a sinfonietta ensemble dedicated to the most important works and composers of the past few decades. Currently finishing it’s first season, Sound Icon recently performed Gérard Grisey’s Les espaces acoustiques: Prolgoue, Periodes, Partiels for the first time in Boston; the performance was described as “a stimulating tightrope walk, balanced between musical detail and corporeal flair” by the Boston Globe.
Earlier this season, Means led the opening concert of Boston’s Celebrating Boulez festival; the program included Boulez’s seminal Le marteau sans maitre, along with his Improvisations sur Mallarme I and II and Jean Barraqué’s rarely-heard Sequence. Other highlights from this season include one of the first US performances of Hans Abrahamsen’s one-hour masterwork Schnee, and performances of Elliott Carter’s A Mirror on Which to Dwell in conjunction with a celebration of Elizabeth Bishop’s centennial.
In 2008, Means led the opening concert of the Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music, a three-day event featuring Boston’s finest new music ensembles. He also regularly conducts at New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice; at this festival he has led the music of Salvatore Sciarrino, Kaija Saariaho, Chaya Chernowin and many others. In 2009, Means was one of two conductors selected to study with Pierre Boulez in Lucerne, Switzerland. He will return to Lucerne this summer to study with Boulez again.
Means remains an active percussionist. He has performed with many of Boston’s ensembles, including the Boston Philharmonic, Atlantic Symphony, Back Bay Chorale, Harvard Group for New Music, Emmanuel Music, Gardner Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Also an active chamber musician, Means recently performed with the Worcester Chamber Music Society, and has performed numerous times on New England Conservatory’s First Monday chamber music series. Other recent, notable performances include collaborating with pianist Stephen Drury on Stockhausen’s epic work Kontakte, and serving as ensemble director for Steve Reich’s Drumming during Boston’s Reich Festival with the composer in attendance. In 2005, Means was a percussion fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center.
Means holds a BM in percussion and a MM in conducting from New England Conservatory. At NEC, he received the John Cage Award, the Tourjee Alumni Award, and was given the Gunther Schuller Medal at his graduation. He has recordings available on Albany, Mode, New World, Navona, and Naxos records.