Jennifer Thiessen is interested in the communicative and expressive nature of music. As a viola and viola d’amore player, she values the inquisitive conversations of commissioning new music and interpreting historical music. In her creative work, she gravitates toward intuitive improvisation and narrative songwriting.
As a contemporary musician, Jennifer plays both composed and improvised music. She recently released The Space Between Us, an album of improvised/co-composed duos for viola d’amore and baritone sax with Ida Toninato on the Ambiances Magnétiques label, and is currently developing a contemporary program for Park Sounds, her duo with percussionist Ben Reimer, to be premiered in Winnipeg in 2019. She has commissioned solo pieces for the viola d’amore by Canadian composers Cassandra Miller, Marielle Groven, Steven Gellman, Megan Jerome, Mike Essoudry, Jan Jarvlepp, Jen McLaughlan, Leonard Lightstone, and Pierre-Yves Martel, as well as Noncerto Beaupré for viola d’amore and harpsichord by Matthias Maute. Concerts of this music have been presented by the Ottawa New Music Creators, Montreal’s Innovations en Concert, and Cluster Festival in Winnipeg. She recorded music by Christopher Butterfield with the Bozzini Quartet, and has toured North Amercia and Asia with Collectif 9. Jennifer travelled the world with dance company La La La Human Steps from 2007 to 2012, performing chamber music by Gavin Bryars and David Lang in the productions Amjad and New Work.
Equally attracted to her instruments’ historical roots, Jennifer’s solo viola d’amore performances include a recital with harpsichordist Mélisande McNabney at the Lamèque International Baroque Festival, a Vivaldi concerto with the Oakville Chamber Orchestra, and the viola d’amore arias from Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans and Bach’s St. John Passion. She co-founded Cénacle, a trio of rare18th century instruments with Karim Nasr (historical winds) and Francis Palma-Pelletier (violone). As a baroque violist, she plays regularly with Ensemble Caprice, Clavecin en Concert, the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal and in frequent chamber music concerts.
Jennifer writes, sings, and plays guitar, viola and keyboards for her songwriting project Daily Alice, whose début recording was released in 2014. She has toured Canada with Sarah Slean, is featured on Joe Silva’s soundtrack to the film Black Field, and can be heard on recordings by such artists as Michel Lambert, Michel F. Côté, Li’l Andy, Mike O’Brien, John Carroll, and The Record of the Week Club.
Originally from Austin, Manitoba, Jennifer moved to Winnipeg where she obtained a Bachelor of Theology while studying violin with Elizabeth Lupton Ens and playing in folk and rock bands. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance with David Stewart at the University of Manitoba and the University of Ottawa, and a Master of Viola Performance from l’Université de Montréal with Jutta Puchammer-Sédillot. She lives in Montréal with her husband and two cats.