Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra performs “Noir” in November


I am thrilled to announce that I will have the opportunity to share my music with the Seattle Jazz Women’s Orchestra November 3rd and 4th, featuring Grace Kelly on alto saxophone! My composition Noir was selected as the 2014 winner of the annual SWOJO Composition Contest. The honorable mention went to Jihye Lee for her composition “Deep Blue Sea.”

The judges were SWOJO’s guest artist, Grace Kelly, Juno award winning jazz composer Christine Jensen, and our music director, Daniel Barry:

Here is some feedback from the judges on “Noir”:

– “Strongest compositionally. This piece reminds me of Ornette’s collaboration with Howard Shore for the film Naked Lunch.”

– “Really beautiful and haunting. Reminded me of some Maria Schneider pieces and Billy Childs arrangements I’ve heard.”

– “Strongest compositionally with a contemporary big band approach to it.”

Here is a link to the recording “Noir” that I submitted for this contest. “Noir” was premiered by the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble.


The Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra will perform it as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival. The concert is on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at the Triple Door in Seattle, WA.

Aaron Staebell performs “AfterHours” at Rochester Fringe Festival

At the 2014 Rochester Fringe Festival, Aaron Staebell will feature world premieres by 15 contemporary composers who were commissioned to write new works for the drum set. Written works will be interspersed with improvisations by Staebell, who is known for his unique, engaging performances – this presentation of brand new music should be no different.


When Aaron approached me about writing a drumset solo for him to perform at the Fringe Festival, he told me his goal was to collect a number of pieces for solo drumset that are NOT stylized in a jazz, rock or latin context, learn them, perform them, submit them to workshops/conferences and maybe eventually publish a collection of these works. I jumped at the opportunity to write a piece him him, not only because I have felt honored to collaborate with him on so many of my composition projects, but also because I continually want to learn more about writing for drumset.

Solo Drum Solo
Aaron Staebell, drums
Bernunzio Uptown Music
September 21st and 22nd, 6pm
Rochester, NY
Tickets: $10

Visit the Fringe Festival page:

Eastman Saxophone Project Performs “Skylark Lullaby” at NASA Conference

NAZRS138175_Jennifer Bellor_061SkylarkLullaby
The Eastman Saxophone Project (ESP) premiered Skylark Lullaby at the NASA Conference March 2014 at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, and also performed it at the Eastman School of Music in April 2014. Chien-Kwan Lin asked me to compose a piece for ESP last August, and I was extremely excited for the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group!


1947927_10101545245043396_1203564550_nThe main material of Skylark Lullaby came from a melody at the beginning of my opera Duffy’s Cut. I often like to create different versions of a piece, since I usually it in different ways. While I was writing the opera, I knew I wanted to reuse some of this material to create a new piece for saxophone choir.
For more information on purchasing the score and parts, please contact me.

Naz Wind Symphony and Eastman Wind Orchestra Premiere of “Electric Vortex”

This is a live recording of my composition Electric Vortex performed by the Eastman Wind Orchestra, December 13, 2013, under the direction of Jared Chase, featuring the jazz band “Bending and Breaking” based in Rochester, NY:

ElectricVortexWills McKenna, tenor saxophone
Wendy Eisenberg, electric guitar
Matt Krols, electric bass
Aaron Staebell, drums
I enjoy writing music for both jazz and classical musicians, and many of my compositions over the last three years have showcased these musicians performing together. When conductor Jared Chase approached me over the summer about writing a piece for both the Eastman Wind Orchestra and the Nazareth Wind Symphony to perform, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to write a piece for wind ensemble featuring the local jazz band, Bending and Breaking led by drummer Aaron Staebell. I envisioned writing a wind ensemble piece featuring Aaron’s band ever since he premiered my composition Uprising (2012) with the Eastman Wind Ensemble.
I wrote Electric Vortex to showcase this collaboration. I was inspired by powerful images I found online of an electric vortex, and envisioned the improvisation group to be the ‘eye’ in this powerful whirlwind.

ElectricVortex-NYSSMAElectric Vortex was written for a consortium of 10 ensembles, and was premiered by the Nazareth Wind Symphony under the direction of Jared Chase. For the premiere at Nazareth, I created a special version of the piece, where I wrote specific parts for students in the wind symphony who also played jazz: Jake Wark, tenor sax; Matt Bevan-Perkins, vibraphone; Tori Valente, congas.

Bending and Breaking at Rochester Fringe Festival 2013

Jennifer Bellor and Aaron Staebell present Bending and Breaking: A Collaboration between Composers, Performers, and Dancers. Aaron Staebell’s band Bending and Breaking performs new works by Jennifer Bellor, Dave Chisholm, Colin Gordon, and Staebell. Joining Bending and Breaking are dancers from Rochester City Ballet, Eastman, and Nazareth College.

Tickets are $10 and are available via, and at the door.
See the facebook event page for more info:
Bending and Breaking
Colin Gordon, saxophone
Dave Chisholm, trumpet
Wendy Eisenberg, guitar
Matt Krol, bass
Aaron Staebell, drums


A View from Above by Colin Gordon
Chris Collins and Megan Kalmer, dancers from the Rochester City Ballet

NoirFringeCircles by Jennifer Bellor
Dancers from Eastman School of Music:
Keenan McKoy – Senior (Saxophone Performance)
Ainsley Kilgo – Junior (Saxophone Performance)

Strange Loop by Aaron Staebell
#ProjectMovement dance company, Nazareth College
Angelo Jasa – Senior (Marketing major)
Hillary Faulkner – Alumni Class of 2013 (Psychology)
Jaynie Ventura – Senior (Education major)
Kristina Jewell – Sophomore (Music Therapy major)

555443_10101256075207066_2001754711_nCloud City by Dave Chisholm
Rheah, choreographer
Brette Benedict and Elisabeth Martin, dancers from the Rochester City Ballet

Interlude – free improvisation
Gloria Gambino, choreographer

Peace Bridge by Aaron Staebell
Brette Benedict, choreographer
dancers from the the Rochester City Ballet
Serpentine by Dave Chisholm
Dancers from Eastman School of Music:
Keenan McKoy – Senior (Saxophone Performance)
Ainsley Kilgo – Junior (Saxophone Performance)

Open Water by Colin Gordon
#ProjectMovement dance company, Nazareth College
Angelo Jasa – Senior (Marketing major)
Hillary Faulkner – Alumni Class of 2013 (Psychology)
Jaynie Ventura – Senior (Education major)
Kristina Jewell – Sophomore (Music Therapy major)

NoirDancersNoir by Jennifer Bellor
Elisabeth Martin, choreographer
Chris Collins and Elisabeth Martin, dancers from the Rochester City Ballet
Special Thanks to:
Jamey Leverett, Artistic Director of the Rochester City Ballet
Heather Roffe, Assistant Professor of Dance, Nazareth College
Alexa Tarantino, saxophone

Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings, June 2-4

My experience having a reading of my new orchestra piece “Crystal Skies” by the American Composers Orchestra, June 2-4 at Miller Theatre, Columbia University.
Listening to the performance of “Crystal Skies” for the first time! (Composer Tania J. Leon is sitting behind me.)
P1080204 - Bellor applause
Congratulating conductor Delta David Gier and the orchestra after such an amazing performance!!!

Being a JCOI participant in the readings was a special experience for me because even though I received my degree in classical composition, I love working with both classical and jazz musicians, and writing music that incorporates both elements, whether it be involving jazz musicians in my pieces where I want improvisation, or writing a piece for classical musicians where I write out the improvisation that I’m hearing in addition to having a prominent rhythm section.

It was interesting for me to learn how the other JCOI composers approached composing the orchestra pieces, since they came from a jazz background. From conversing with many of them, they saw this as an opportunity to learn about all of these orchestration techniques and compositions that I was taught in music classes I took for my degree. Some of the composers also aimed to write something different stylistically from what they are used to composing for their own ensembles. When working with the orchestra, it was interesting to see how their use of terminology was different from classical musicians with regards to the use of articulation markings, such as how the ‘accent’ and the ‘staccato’ marking are approached differently between jazz and classical musicians. I hope my colleagues continue to use their own voice and write more compositions for the orchestra to create more repertoire that is new, exciting, and fresh.

P1080376 - Laubrock, Bryan, Sussman, Bellor, Tonooka, Milne
Composers, left to right: Ingrid Laubrock, Courtney Bryan, Richard Sussman, me, Sumi Tonooka, and Andy Milne.

I saw this reading as an opportunity to write an orchestra piece for musicians who were interested in being involved in an orchestra project that crossed stylistic boundaries. I’m so grateful to the American Composers Orchestra for giving me the opportunity to write this piece. It was such a liberating and positive experience for me, and I cannot wait to write more repertoire that incorporates these elements.

P1080549 - group shot
Group photo of the composers, conductors, and mentors
Front left to right: Courtney Bryan, José Bevia, Sumi Tonooka, me, conductor Oliver Hagen, and mentor Anne LeBaron.
Back left to right: mentor Paul Chihara, mentor George Lewis, Ingrid Laubrock, Andy Milne, Richard Sussman, and conductor Delta David Gier.

Check out some excerpts!

Recorded live at American Composers Orchestra’s 2013 Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute New Music Readings. Please visit:

Crystal Skies (2013) was inspired by my experience skydiving for the first time in upstate New York. It was a chilly November day, and as the airplane ascended into the air, it became even more freezing thousands of feet above the ground. When the door of the plane opened and I stepped out onto the ledge, I couldn’t wait to fall backwards and sink into the clouds. The freefall lasted approximately one minute, and then I felt like was just floating in the air. In my piece, I wanted to capture that feeling of being suspended in the chilly sky, as if I was flying. The string textures reflect the icy sky, portrayed by the artificial harmonics and ornamented lines that weave in and out of each other. The woodwinds represent birds gliding in the sky, and for a moment, I felt like a bird as I was slowly descending down to the ground.

The first excerpt showcases the first 48 seconds of the piece, and the second excerpt showcases 2 minutes and 11 seconds of the middle section. Please contact me for more information on the piece.

Here are some additional photos taken:
P1080559 - Bellor
The last day: Post-reading discussion – I was very happy!!!
P1070956 - Chihara & Bellor
My composition mentor Paul Chihara during the rehearsal
P1080074 - bellor
Post-rehearsal discussion
P1080153 - discussion with Mandel & Oteri
Lunch with the composers, Frank Oteri, and Howard Mandel
P1080081 - Haas & Bellor
Discussing drum set notation with percussionist Jonathan Haas

2013 Winner of a DownBeat Award for composition “Midnight Swim”

I’m really excited to announce that I won a DownBeat Outstanding Performance Award in the Original Composition, Orchestrated Work/ Graduate College category for my composition Midnight Swim (2013) for big band that was premiered by the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dave Rivello, featuring Colin Gordon on soprano saxophone. Here is a link to the recording:

I’m also thrilled to announce that I will be graduating this month with a Ph.D. in music composition. Following Commencement, I will be composing a 20-minute opera, commissioned by the Washington National Opera American Opera Initiative, for a fall premiere at the Kennedy Center. In June, I will also be participating in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute readings in New York City, where my new orchestra piece Crystal Skies will be played by the American Composers Orchestra.

And, I just found out that I will be an Assistant Professor in Music theory in the fall at Nazareth College! I look forward to continuing my teaching there, and working with such an amazing team of professors, administrators, and students.

Premiere of Christabel: A Chamber opera/scenic cantata in 2 acts

The premiere of my chamber opera/scenic cantata “Christabel” was a huge success! It was such a pleasure to work with such amazing performers. Here is the video from the April 28 premiere at Eastman School of Music:

Christabel (2012) – a chamber opera/scenic cantata in 2 acts
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Christabel” adapted to libretto by Alexandra Tursi and Jennifer Bellor

Jennifer Bellor, composer
Lindsay Warren Baker, director
Danko Daniel Drusko, conductor

Pablo Bustos, Narrator
Natasha Drake, Christabel
Emily R. Mills, Geraldine

Alicia Mastrella,Christabel dancer
Katie Rhea, Geraldine dancer

Andrew Pramuk, Sir Leoline
John Leighton, Bard Bracy

Emlyn Johnson, flute
Wai Ki Wun, clarinet/bass clarinet
Lauren Cauley and Elizabeth Ehrlich, violin
Kelsey Farr, viola
Audrey Snyder, cello
Wan-Ling Chuang, bass
Chiao-Wen Cheng, piano
Megan Arns and Drew Worden, percussion
Aaron Staebell, drums