Composer Paola Prestini is co-founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn-based arts institution and incubator National Sawdust. Since 1999, when she co-founded the multimedia production company VisionIntoArt (subsequently re-launched as National Sawdust Projects), she has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that chart her interest in extra-musical themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She was recently named an “Innovator” on the list of Top 30 Professionals of the Year by Musical America; she is on Brooklyn Magazine’s latest list of “influencers of Brooklyn culture … in perpetuity,” alongside US Senator Charles Schumer and film director Spike Lee; and is one of the Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music (Washington Post). As part of her commitment to the next generation and equity, she started the Hildegard Competition for emerging female, trans, and non-binary composers and the Blueprint Fellowship for emerging composers with The Juilliard School.
Ms. Prestini’s works have been commissioned by and performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Barbican Centre, Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Opera, Roomful of Teeth, Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and Young People’s Chorus, among others. Her next steps include the following commissions: the grand opera Edward Tulane (Minnesota Opera), the chamber opera Sensorium Ex (Atlanta Opera and Beth Morrison Projects PROTOTYPE Festival), and the foley chamber opera Silent Light (Banff’s Opera in the 21st Century). She is writing a piano concerto for Awadagin Pratt and A Far Cry; a piano concerto for Lara Downes and the Louisville Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, and Ravinia; and music for The Amazon, a documentary and arts event (and follow up to Murat Eyuboglu’s The Colorado) recently screened at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History. She has collaborated with artists such as writers Mark Campbell, Rinde Eckert, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Royce Vavrek; astrophysicist Mario Livio and conservationist William deBuys; VR writer and director Eliza McNitt; throat singer Tanya Tagaq; directors Julian Crouch and Robert Wilson; and musicians including Helga Davis and Jeffrey Zeigler. A graduate of The Juilliard School, she was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and a Sundance Fellow.