Whether she finds herself on a concert hall stage or in an underground venue, Jennifer Thiessen relentlessly seeks a deep musical authenticity, in which she carves her own unique voice. As a viola and viola d’amore player, she is a member of the JUNO- and OPUS-nominated improvising duo Toninato/Thiessen and Park Sounds, a new-music duo with percussionist Ben Reimer. She performs regularly with Ensemble Caprice and Ensemble SuperMusique, among many other historical and new music ensembles in Montreal. Mixing new sounds with instruments of the past, she is known for her performances of new works on the viola d’amore. A multi-disciplinary artist, she appears as singer-songwriter Daily Alice and toured the world with La La La Human Steps from 2007-2012. From within the multiplicity of artistic adventures she is called to be part of, she remains grounded in her passion to create thoughtful and meaningful musical experiences for herself and her listeners.
Jennifer’s hands are full of creative music while her feet are planted in classical, baroque and folk music. Since first singing, playing piano and picking up the violin at a young age, improvising and composing have been a natural part of her practice. Later switching to viola for the depth of its tone, she honed her skills with acclaimed professors David Stewart at the University of Manitoba and the University of Ottawa, and with Jutta Puchhammer at the Université de Montréal, earning a Master of Music in Performance degree. Adding guitar to her skill set, she has become an accomplished singer-songwriter, performing under the moniker Daily Alice. Her continued pursuits in classical music are intertwined with her creative ventures in a way that allows her to draw from different styles with a gut-based thirst for perfection.
She released The Space Between Us, a JUNO- and OPUS-nominated album of improv-based music composed and performed with baritone saxophonist Ida Toninato on Montreal’s Ambiances Magnétiques label in 2018. Her duo Park Sounds with percussionist Ben Reimer created a program called Root Systems, including four new Canadian commissions, which premiered in Manitoba in October 2019. As singer-songwriter Daily Alice, Jennifer toured Ontario and Québec in September 2019 with Plumes (Veronica Charnley).
Sought after as a collaborator, she frequently plays with Ensemble SuperMusique, is a member of choreographer/composer Susanna Hood’s project Impossibly Happy and composer-musician Terri Hron’s Medusa Selfies. As a historical and chamber musician, she appears often with Ensemble Caprice, the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, Clavecin en Concert and many other baroque groups in Montreal. She toured the world with two La La La Human Steps productions, Amjad and New Work, performing chamber music by Gavin Bryars and David Lang with contemporary dance. She recorded music by Christopher Butterfield with the Bozzini Quartet and has toured Canada, France and Asia with Collectif 9. She is currently developing music for a new collaboration called S[ILK]S with composer/singer/electronics musician Andrea Young.
Discovering the viola d’amore increased her interest in working with composers on a one-on-one basis, and she has been commissioning new works for this rare and magical instrument since 2012. She has premiered solo works by Cassandra Miller, Marielle Groven, Matthias Maute, Steven Gellman, Jen McLaughlan, Pierre-Yves Martel, Jan Jarvlepp, Leonard Lightstone and Isaiah Ceccarelli, always looking for a unique personality in a composer rather than a precise style or school of thought. This curiosity, as well as a clear desire to take risks, allows her to work with composers and musicians from very different backgrounds and notations. Jennifer has performed solo programs of new music presented by the Ottawa New Music Creators, Montreal’s Innovations en Concert, and Cluster Festival in Winnipeg. She has also performed solo programs of historical music at the Lamèque International Baroque Festival and the Festival Montréal Baroque.
Originally from rural Manitoba, she now lives in Montreal, close to the St. Lawrence River, with her husband and two cats.