by Mike Telin
Tonight, October 26, the Cleveland Arts Prize will hold its 63rd annual awards ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The CAP promotes creativity in Northeast Ohio by honoring artists for artistic excellence and recognizing community leaders who help arts flourish in the region.
Among the list of distinguished recipients is Dana Jessen, who will receive a mid-career artist prize for music. Jessen is a trailblazer in the world of new and improvised music. Hailed as a “bassoon virtuoso” (Chicago Reader), she is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Huygens Fellowship. In addition to her active solo career, her resume includes world premiere performances with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Dal Niente, Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra, S.E.M. Ensemble, and the Amsterdam Contemporary Ensemble. As an educator she serves as Associate Professor of Contemporary Music and Improvisation at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
I caught up with Dana Jessen by phone and began our conversation by congratulating her.
Dana Jessen: Thank you. I am incredibly honored. I was telling somebody that it felt like the Cleveland Arts Prize was actually looking at all of the things that I do. It’s not just that I’m a bassoonist, but that I also write my own pieces, I play with electronics, and I improvise. I also interpret pieces that I’ve commissioned. And I teach. So it’s very humbling to be seen for the entirety of what I do as opposed to one thing or the other.