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Jessie Montgomery is a composer, violinist and educator.
Jiyang Chen
Rhapsody in Black

Composer Jessie Montgomery uses music to connect with the world

Rhapsody in Black - Jessie Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery is a Grammy-nominated composer, a violinist and a teacher.

She studied violin performance at the Juilliard School and then earned a master’s degree in composition for film and multimedia at New York University. In 1999, she started working with the Sphinx Organization, an organization that’s dedicated to giving Black and Latin American artists opportunities to study classical music.

“Music is my connection to the world,” Montgomery says. “It guides me to understand my place in relation to others and challenges me to make clear the things I do not understand. I imagine that music is a meeting place at which all people can converse about their unique differences and common stories.”

Montgomery is now the composer-in-residence for the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music. She still performs and teaches, but as she’s become busier with new commissions she is devoting more and more time to composing.

Her album Rounds was selected as one of NPR’s best albums of 2023. That album earned a Grammy nomination for best contemporary classical composition and has been performed by 30 orchestras.


Host: Vernon Neal

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher

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About Rhapsody in Black

Where we turn up the voices of Black artists in the world of classical music, with host Vernon Neal.

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About Rhapsody in Black