MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Jennifer Kessler Named New Executive Director of ICE

Announcement from International Contemporary Ensemble:

New York, NY (March 4, 2020) — The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) announces the appointment of Executive Director Jennifer Kessler, who joined the organization in January 2020. Kessler brings a breadth of experience in developing community, education, social justice, and artistic programs with arts organizations worldwide, including Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and Carnegie Hall, and joins the organization as it embarks on continued growth in the lead-up to its twentieth anniversary season.

“Jennifer’s many years of experience within today’s musical landscape, along with her nuanced understanding of our mission and vision, is invaluable,” said Co-Artistic Director Rebekah Heller. “We are thrilled to be working side-by-side with her to shape the future of the International Contemporary Ensemble.”

“Jennifer comes to the International Contemporary Ensemble with deep experience in the non-profit and music education/social justice world,” said Claude Arpels, International Contemporary Ensemble Board President. “She is an accomplished musician herself, who appreciates the power of contemporary music. As we approach our twentieth anniversary season, Jennifer is the perfect person to join our Co-Artistic Directors in the leadership of the Ensemble into its third decade.”

“I’m thrilled to join the extraordinary artists of the International Contemporary Ensemble, which I’ve admired from my days as a horn player,” said Kessler. “For 18 years, the Ensemble has been a critical partner and incubator to hundreds of emerging composers, allowing them to stretch their imaginations and launch boundary-pushing new music onto the world’s stages. I am excited to build on ICE’s commitment to commissioning and developing the music of artists representing many voices, backgrounds, and perspectives; to continue to work with our outstanding partners to amplify these projects around the world; and to share in an ecosystem of learning to support the next generation of performer/composers in radical new ways of sharing powerful stories through music.”

About Jennifer Kessler
Prior to joining ICE, Jennifer served as Executive Director of Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a music and social justice nonprofit that empowers girls and gender expansive youth. As the Director of Community and Education for Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Jennifer produced orchestral concerts for youth in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem, and launched an intensive music program called Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s, modeled after Venezuela’s El Sistema youth orchestra program. At Carnegie Hall, Jennifer managed young musician training programs with world-renowned artists. Consultant projects include developing partnerships, producing festivals, designing education initiatives, and fundraising for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation, and the Inner City Youth Orchestra of LA. Jennifer has raised millions of dollars for arts and justice organizations, and has also overseen the Getty Education and Community Investment Grants through the League of American Orchestras as well as participated on multiple peer-review grant panels.

Jennifer holds degrees in French horn performance from Northwestern University in Illinois and Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin, Germany. She was an El Sistema fellow at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, receiving a graduate certificate of nonprofit management with a focus on music for social change programs. After performing in her early career as a French horn player with the Berlin Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern, and the Israeli Opera Orchestra, Jennifer now sings and plays guitar in occasional rock bands.

About the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
The International Contemporary Ensemble is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, the Ensemble explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The Ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the International Contemporary Ensemble was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The International Contemporary Ensemble was featured at the Ojai Music Festival from 2015 to 2017, and at recent festivals abroad such as gmem-CNCM-marseille and Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Mexico City. Other performance stages have included the Park Avenue Armory, The Stone, ice floes at Greenland’s Diskotek Sessions, and boats on the Amazon River.

OpenICE, made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, offers free concerts and interactive, educational programming wherever the Ensemble performs. As the Ensemble in Residence of the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology, the International Contemporary Ensemble advances music technology and digital communications as an empowering tool for artists from all backgrounds. Curricular activities include a residency and coursework at the New School College of Performing Arts, along with a summer intensive program, called Ensemble Evolution, where topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion build new bridges and pathways for the future of creative sound practices. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the Ensemble. Read more at and watch over 350 videos of live performances and documentaries at

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