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JP Merz is a Los Angeles-based composer whose music investigates accessibility, equity, and empathy while questioning notions of virtuosity and encouraging subtle listening. His music has been performed by yMusic, Altius Quartet, Playground Ensemble, Sound of Ceres, and the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, as well as by members of the JACK quartet, Boulder Symphony, and Denver Philharmonic. His work has been featured by and played in Carnegie Hall, New Music Gathering, Madison New Music Festival, San Francisco Fringe Festival, the Abrons Arts Center, the National Flute Association, ACRE gallery, VICE’s Creator’s Project, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and I Care if You Listen, as well as record stores, cafes, and living rooms. In addition to composing for musicians, he has collaborated with dancers, algorithms, electrical engineers, internet researchers, and robots.
JP’s piece, the be able to be not, is included on the self-titled album by new music ensemble Lilith, released on National Sawdust in 2018. He is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation's Leonard Bernstein Award (2019) and the American Composers Forum’s Jerome Fund for New Music Grant (2016), as well as grants from Art Shanty Projects and The Allied Arts. JP has worked for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series and as an assistant to composer Daniel Wohl on projects such as the 2018 Netflix documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead. Current projects include several performances by boundary-crossing ensemble yMusic in their 2019 season, commissions for Zack Reaves, Dan Reifsteck, and Joe Connor, and scoring a film by Maya Livio.
JP is currently a doctoral student in composition at the University of Southern California, where he is studying with Ted Hearne and Andrew Norman, and is a teaching assistant in music theory and aural skills.
photo by Owen Zhou