Jeffrey Means

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments

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Jeffrey Means is an American conductor and percussionist with a focus on contemporary music. His wide-ranging career has included engagements across North America and Europe, collaborating with some of today’s leading composers and ensembles. Means is the artistic director of Sound Icon, whose performances have been named among the best of the year multiple times by The Boston Globe. He served as the assistant conductor of Spoleto Festival USA for three years and the Lucerne Festival Academy for two years. In these capacities, he assisted Alan Gilbert, Heinz Holliger, Susanna Mälkki, Matthias Pintscher, John Kennedy, and others. He has conducted at festivals in France, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Canada, Finland, and Australia. Ensembles Means has led include the Talea Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, Mimesis Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, The East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, and many others. He is currently a professor of conducting at Berklee College of Music. In addition to his performance activities, Means is an active producer and engineer of fine recordings of all types of classical music.

  • Recipient of 2008 Gunther Schuller Medal
In Their Own Words

"It’s important to me to format my conducting class so that it’s as much about learning to conduct as it is learning how to perform under a conductor, because both can become pertinent in students’ professional lives. I am meticulous about them understanding the score as much as is possible, and I try to be careful that everything they’re interpreting in notation actually means something to them in practical terms. I’m careful not to teach only physical gesture without the idea that it should be inseparable from physical understanding."

"I specialize in contemporary avant garde classical music, so almost everything I conduct is by living composers. It does have a lot to do with the way I teach, because in the music I do, there’s an extremely direct connection between what I have to do with my hands and what’s in the score, and there’s not really that opportunity for me to put the kind of personal stamp on the repertoire that people conducting only a classical repertoire might want to do. I think that works out well in the classroom, because I’m really teaching students to move their hands in a way that’s only informing the players about what’s present in the score, so it creates a nice equation between the text and the act of conducting."

"The technical situation in the classrooms is pretty remarkable. There’s not a live ensemble in most of the beginning classes that I teach, but there is a computer software program. The students tap along with the computer in a way that simulates performing on instruments, but it’s realistic enough that the student who’s conducting gets an experience that is relatively close to actual conducting without having the pressure of having a real ensemble there. And they can go on to conduct a live orchestra every week, which is not the case in a number of major conducting programs across the country. It’s really special. And the faculty is very strong, and they’re all active professionals. Berklee is really a very cool place to learn how to conduct."