Paola Prestini


PAOLA PRESTINI is “the imaginative composer” (New York Times), Co-Founder and Artistic director behind the Brooklyn venue National Sawdust. She was recently named an “Innovator” on the list of Top 30 Professionals of the Year by Musical America, the country’s oldest classical music magazine; she is on Brooklyn Magazine’s latest list of “influencers of Brooklyn culture…in perpetuity” alongside such household names as Chuck Schumer and Spike Lee; she is one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” (The Washington Post); and on the “Top 100 Composers in the World” list by NPR. Prestini’s music and works have been commissioned by and performed at BAM, the Barbican Centre, The Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Kennedy Center, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Opera, and The New York Philharmonic,  among others. Since 1999 when she co-founded the multimedia production company VisionIntoArt while at the Juilliard School, (now relaunched as National Sawdust Projects), she has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, conservationists and astrophysicists in large-scale multimedia works (often in collaboration with Beth Morrison Projects). VIA is the sustaining force behind more than one hundred original productions to date. Prestini also presided over the launch of VIA Records, hailed as “an essential new voice in the future of American classical music” (Q2 Music), now relaunched as the National Sawdust Tracks.

Incorporating powerful visual and dramatic components, Prestini’s multimedia creations address such extra-musical issues as conservation, astrophysics, and politics.

Large scale works in development include music for the next installation of Murat Eyuboglu’s River project: The Amazon; Old Man and the Sea. a new grand opera with Robert Wilson, Royce Vavrek, Helga Davis and Jeffrey Zeigler; Edward Tulane, an inter-generational grand opera for Minnesota Opera with Mark Campbell and Eric Simonson; Film Stills, a new monodrama opera series with RB Schlather, Eve Gigliotti and Royce Vavrek commissioned by National Sawdust; and Sensorium Ex, a new chamber opera with Brenda Shaughnessy and Tomer Zvulun for Atlanta Opera.

Other works include the opera epic Gilgamesh, for Arts Emerson at the Cutler Majestic directed by Michael Counts with libretto by Cerise Jacobs and projection by S. Katy Tucker; the Labyrinth Installation Concertos written for Maya Beiser and Cornelius Dufallo, directed by Michael McQuilken with visual art by Erika Harrsch and Carmen Kordas, performed at the Isabella Gardner Museum and commissioned by the Krannert Center; The Hubble Cantata commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts and National Sawdust Projects, with virtual reality by Eliza Mcnitt and narrations by astrophysicist Mario Livio, performed at Bric’s Celebrate Brooklyn, the Kennedy Center, and LA’s Ford Theater with LA Opera; Aging Magician with performer/librettist Rinde Eckert, director/designer Julian Crouch, instrument inventor Mark Stewart and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, commissioned by the Walker Art Center and Krannert Center with performances at ASU Gammage and the New Victory Theater; Epiphany for the Young People’s Chorus, performed at BAM’s 2015 Next Wave Festival and Guildhall in London with visuals by Ali Hossaini; The Colorado, Murat Eyuboglu’s eco/film cantata developed at MASS MoCA for Roomful of Teeth, Glenn Kotche, and Jeffrey Zeigler, performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Houston’s Da Camera series, Stanford Live and the Kennedy Center; The Hotel That Time Forgot, for orchestra and video artist for the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; We Breathe Again, a film score released on PBS with a stellar group including Nels Cline, Jeffrey Zeigler, Cornelius Dufallo, David Cossin, and Tanya Tagaq performed at National Sawdust’s Winterreise Festival; and The Imaginary World of Wild Order for the Mass Re-Imaginings Projects commissioned by Choir of Trinity Wall Street with text by Brenda Shaughnessy.

Prestini’s honors include two ASCAP awards, a fellowship from Paul & Daisy Soros, and the Sundance Institute. She has been granted residencies at MASS MoCA, The Park Avenue Armory, The Watermill Center, Florida’s Hermitage Artist Retreat, Wyoming’s Ucross Foundation, and LMCC Governor’s Island. Passionate about education, she has taught at inner city schools in New York, with the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, with El Sistema in Venezuela, and at institutions and in the field in Italy, Africa, and Mexico.

Paola Prestini’s music is released on VIA Records, Innova, and Tzadik Records; her writing is published in the Arcana series by Hips Road, and she is the editor of the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer handbook. A graduate of the Juilliard School, she studied under Samuel Adler, Robert Beaser, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.