Jessica Shand

Research Assistant
  • Opera of the Future

Jessica Shand is an interdisciplinary performer-composer and researcher whose background in mathematics informs her vision of music-making as an embodied experience inviting multi-sensory exploration and radical collective  imagination. Having fallen in love with the Western romantic and impressionist repertoires first as a young ballet dancer, she found her voice on the flute and went from playing in her school and local youth ensembles to winning major solo competitions and performing with orchestras worldwide. Her original work calls on an eclectic set of musical languages passed down to her by cherished mentors and influences, including creative improvisation, electronic and electroacoustic music, and jazz idioms.

In 2022, Jessica graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and music, earning the Wister Prize for the most outstanding record in either field while also obtaining a secondary in computer science. While enrolled in the highly selective joint program with the New England Conservatory, she studied classical flute performance with the internationally renowned soloist Paula Robison and further expanded her musical vocabulary under the mentorship of Claire Chase, Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, and later Miguel Zenón and others at Berklee and MIT. At 20, she became one of the youngest individuals ever invited to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory and American Musicological Society, where she presented original research on artificial creativity and improvising machines. 

Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Jessica is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts, where she has been developing her creative practice and cultivating an interdisciplinary body of research as a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab. She has been a Wm. S. Haynes Co. International Young Artist since 2016.