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21C Welcomes VisionIntoArt (VIA), Paola Prestini’s Nonprofit Production Company for Collaborative, Interdisciplinary New Music


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21C is thrilled to announce that it now represents VisionIntoArt (VIA) for press and public relations. The brainchild of founder Paola Prestini, celebrated as its “visionary-in-chief” (Time Out New York) and “composer-impresario” (New Yorker), VIA is a non-profit production company dedicated to fostering collaborative, interdisciplinary new music. Providing integral, comprehensive support from fund-raising, commissioning, and incubation to performance, recording, marketing, and beyond, VIA is the sustaining force behind more than 70 original productions to date, with a portfolio that reads like a who’s who of contemporary music and art. Now, a little over 15 years since its founding in 1999, the collective marks two major milestones. Fall saw the launch of VIA Records, hailed as “an essential new voice in the future of American classical music” (Q2 Music), and October 1 brings the opening of National Sawdust, a new nonprofit Brooklyn-based space for incubation, performance, and recording, where VIA will serve as a partner organization and where Prestini is Creative Director and Executive Director (and a board member). VIA team members Courtenay Casey and Natalia Schwien are also on the board and on staff.

A deep-seated commitment to collaboration and mentorship lies at the heart of VIA’s mission. As Prestini explains,

“Collaboration is an art in and of itself that can only be learned by doing it, making the necessary mistakes. My role in the process is my love of bringing disparate voices together, and seeing what emerges from the synergy. … Even in the hardest collaborative processes, one’s identity is not lost, only rediscovered and reaffirmed.”

Named one of the “Top 100 composers in the World under 40” (NPR), she has been commissioned and performed by Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony (Music Now), New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Krannert Center, the Walker Arts Center, and the Kronos Quartet, and her works performed worldwide, from the Kennedy Center, Park Avenue Armory, and BAM to London’s Barbican Centre. And yet, as the New York Times observes,

“Paola Prestini is probably best known as a composer, but her business card might more accurately read ‘human resources alchemist,’ such is her gift for bringing together disparate artists, technicians and other creative professionals to produce cross-disciplinary works greater than the sum of their parts.”

For Prestini, then, VIA represents the fulfillment of a dream so personal that its logo is quite literally branded onto her skin. As she confided to the Wall Street Journal, “What I want to do is give others the kind of opportunities I wanted to have when I was in my 20s.” At that time, as a conservatory-trained composer struggling to find a home for her pioneering multimedia work, Prestini – as gifted and innovative an entrepreneur as she is a musician – not only conceived of an organization that would realize her collaborative vision, but also personally raised the substantial funds necessary to finance it.

Soon VIA was also commissioning, incubating, and staging the collaborative multimedia creations of her friends: those whose projects have come to fruition under the company’s auspices include celebrated composers John Luther AdamsAnna ClyneNico MuhlyTerry RileyJohn Zorn, and Prestini herself. Working with strong visual and dramatic components, VIA’s composers succeed in addressing such extra-musical issues as ecology and conservation, astrophysics, and politics. Their numerous collaborators are drawn from a wide range of disciplines and have include ensembles such as the Brooklyn Youth ChorusYoung People’s Chorus of New York City, a and the Trinity Choir; choreographer Lar Lubovitch and his Dance Company; video artists S. Katy Tucker and Carmen Kordas; filmmakers Ali Hossaini and Murat Eyuboglu; visual artist Josh Dorman; poets Roger Bonair-Agard and Brenda Shaughnessy; librettists Donna Di Novelli and Royce Vavrek; librettist and performer Rinde Eckert; director and puppet-maker Julian Crouch; directors Kevin Newbury and Michael McQuilken; and actor Mark Rylance.  These projects have been presented around the globe by organizations such as the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Harare Festival of the Arts (AFRICA), the Walker Art Center and MASS MoCA.

To document and disseminate examples of the company’s work, VIA Records was launched with three inaugural releases this past fall, and eight additional titles are scheduled to follow over the next two years. To celebrate the label’s commitment to broadening the canon of 21st-century multimedia works, each album will be available both singly and in a deluxe edition, with an accompanying DVD and poster. As Q2 Music put it, “The least surprising thing about VIA Records is the sheer mega-wattage of talent brought on board by an organization whose central premise is interdisciplinary collaboration.

Housed in a custom-converted, hundred-year-old Williamsburg sawdust factory, National Sawdust will boast first-rate acoustics and be open around the clock. As Prestini told the Huffington Post, the venue will comprise “a 24/7, state-of-the-art concert hall, recording studio, and non-profit home for young composers and performing artists – a place where one can hear bands, listen to chamber music, or record a 70-piece orchestra, … and there’s going to be a restaurant too.” For home company VIA, National Sawdust will provide a deep incubator for emerging artists, while as its Creative Director, Prestini – already instrumental in raising funds – will be responsible for programming, collaborating with artist curators such as composer/rocker Bryce Dessner, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and vocalist Helga Davis, and Artists- and Groups-in-Residence including Brooklyn Rider, New Amsterdam Presents, and mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran. Even before its opening, the burgeoning project has already attracted notice, being named one of the “100 Best Things to Happen” in Brooklyn last year (L magazine).

More information about VIA and Paola Prestini is available at the web sites listed below.


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© 21C Media Group, May 2015

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