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Percussion Faculty

Jeff Stern Headshot
Jeff Stern

Junior and Senior Session

BM, University of Massachusetts

MM, Peabody Institute

Artist Diploma, Yale University School of Music

Joined LMC Faculty in 2022

Share with us some of your professional accomplishments.

Above all I count myself incredibly privileged to lead a life in making music. It is my favorite thing to do, and getting to engage in music every day with students, friends, and colleagues is a true gift. 

I currently teach at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where I work with 15 students ranging from undergraduates to doctoral candidates. I attended Peabody for my masters degree, so to be back there helping young players navigate a similar path to my own is humbling, inspiring, and deeply satisfying.

 

The cornerstone of my playing lies in chamber music. I direct and perform in icarus Quartet, a two piano/two percussion group as well as a nonprofit organization. One of our first performances together was in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall with the composer of the piece we were playing in attendance. The depth of knowledge of the score we had built and the chemistry shared with the other three musicians combined to enable complete freedom in my playing and a rush like I had never felt before. That was a truly defining moment, confirming that I needed to commit my life in search of that sensation time and time again. iQ has been an invaluable vehicle in this pursuit, working with imaginative composers, educating students, and always aspiring for artistic excellence, winning the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition for Emerging Professional Ensembles in 2019.

 

I’m also a member of The Percussion Collective, a flexible roster of Yale Percussion Group alumni and a group that means a great deal to me. We have been commissioning and performing some of the most joyous and profound percussion music ever written, including Garth Neustadter’s Seaborne, which we played for a live broadcast on WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces. In March 2022, I’ll rejoin the Collective for the last of its premiere run of concerto appearances in Chris Theofanidis’ Drum Circles with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Francis.

 

I enjoy making music in a myriad of ways, whether playing my primary instruments, singing and playing guitar (both poorly), or dabbling in electronics and DAWs. I endorse Pearl Drums/Adams Musical Instruments, Zildjian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, and Vic Firth sticks and mallets, the latter having sponsored many of my video recordings. icarus’ debut album will be added to these documentations of my work when it releases in June 2022 on Furious Artisans Records. 

What excites you about Luzerne Music Center?

I’m excited to get to know the community and embrace the culture and atmosphere. In my experience, these kinds of festivals are idyllic oases, escapes from normal life where musicians get to make really special art and unique personal memories shared among the specific people who comprise that summer’s cohort. I’m sure LMC will be the same kind of gathering, without any means to predict exactly what fond moments will linger in my mind during the rest of the year. And being in a beautiful location certainly doesn’t hurt…

What can campers expect to learn while working with you this summer?

I hope to offer a different take on the themes that students most likely concentrate on with their regular teachers and programs at home. Time is almost always at the center of the conversation (believing strongly in the trope “what do you call a percussionist with bad time?… unemployed), but I like to explore time in a wider sense than merely “in” or “out” – time has character. I also have an obsession with sound, and I hope to impart as much of that onto the students as possible in our time together. Lastly, I want to help them find how to make what they play fun, understanding the music as if they themselves wrote it, and communicating that enthusiasm through their playing.

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