Aleeza Meir’s New York Life in Music
Aleeza Meir – Old First’s organist and pianist for the last decade – contends that musicians who come to New York to make a living must have more than just talent; they also have to have a little bit of luck. Looks like she’s been blessed with both: she is able to keep herself busy – actually extremely busy – working as a full-time musician.
In addition to playing piano for our Sunday services, Aleeza is also principal pianist for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. She accompanies the choir (ages 12-18) during serious daily rehearsals (yes, daily). Many of their high-powered performances include partnering with the Kronos Quartet, the NY Philharmonic, and Bryce Dessner, who fronts a Grammy-Award-nominated band called The National. The choir performs commissioned music written specifically for them by relevant composers. The group is actually headed for the Netherlands this month – Aleeza’s going too.
She also serves as a faculty pianist at the Upper East Side’s Allen-Stevenson school. She says that this all-boys private school takes its music program very seriously and holds it in as high a regard as its other academic subjects.
Aleeza spends her summers working for the Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont. That means complete immersion in your language of choice, 24-hours a day, all summer long. The students have to sign a pledge that they won’t speak anything other than their chosen target language for the entirety of their experience. The program consists of 4-5 hours of class in the morning, and recreational activities throughout the afternoon and evening. She works for the German school, which includes a program specifically for young professional singers to work on German art song and opera. She says that it is some of the most intense work she’s ever done.
Aleeza has been in New York (and with Old First) since 2002. She was born and raised in upstate New York, and was a staff pianist at The Ithaca College School of Music. People were urging her to try her “luck” in New York City, and she took the chance. She bunked with her cousin here in Park Slope, and thought she would hook up with a fancy church in Manhattan. However, she was attracted to the biggest and most iconic church in the nabe. Incidentally, Pastor Dan was also new to the congregation at that time. Both have been here ever since.
She calls her role in our Sunday worship services not exactly a concert, but more of a “conversation,” trying to read the feel of who is there and what is happening, week to week. If you sometimes see her run out of the room, it’s because she’s inspired to play something new and/or unexpected later in the service; she’s printing out music from the computer that may fit better with the vibe of the morning.
We’ll miss Aleeza this summer, but not to worry: in her absence, we have Karen Bulthuis and John Dyke sitting in for her at the piano. She says that we’ll be left in very capable hands.
Find out more about Aleeza at aleezameir.com