Press Room

Composer Paola Prestini Embarks on a Dynamic 2016-17 Season with a Broadway Run, Two Commission Premieres, Two CD Releases

Paola Prestini – Creative and Executive Director of Brooklyn’s new arts hub National Sawdust – launched her 2016-17 season at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater in September with the premiere of her new opera, Gilgamesh, part of a trilogy of works by different composers set to interconnected librettos by Cerise Jacobs. The Boston Globe called Prestini’s opera “an enchanted exploration of the eternal mysteries” in which her “atmospheric but tuneful music … inhabited an indie-opera rainforest of its own.” The remainder of her multi-faceted season is no less illustrious. After serving as keynote speaker and panelist in last month’s “Innovate. Lead. Music.” conference at the Eastman School of Music, in November and January she participates in two more conferences, for the International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA) and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP). As a composer she has two commissions premiering this season: a new mass for Trinity Church Wall Street and a composition for orchestra and video artist called The Hotel That Time Forgot, which has its debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Her music-theater piece Aging Magician will have a nine-show run on Broadway after a performance as part of Arizona State University’s Gammage Series in Phoenix; and Prestini wears two hats as composer and producer for the live-scored West Coast premiere of the VIA-produced film The Colorado, in the Bing Concert Hall’s “Live Context: Art + Ideas” series at Stanford University. Back in Brooklyn, her piece Labyrinth will also have its New York premiere in National Sawdust’s “Bridging the Gap” series. She releases two new discs of her own music, The Hubble Cantata and Aging Magician, and her piece “G-Force” will be included on Ian Rosenbaum’s new CD, Memory Palace, with Brooklyn Rider. All three albums will be released on the VIA Records label that Prestini established in 2014.

As the moving spirit behind National Sawdust and ”Visionary-In-Chief” (Time Out New York) of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA) which makes its home there, Prestini is in a unique position to influence the direction of new music, as a composer, impresario, thought leader and ambassador. Her VIA Records label has been hailed as “an essential new voice in the future of American classical music” (Q2 Music), and National Sawdust lauded as “a triumphantly successful new performance space in Williamsburg that stands for a hip, sophisticated brand of new music” (New York Times). Fittingly, then, Prestini is also sought after as someone with her finger on the pulse of new trends in the art form. She goes to Toronto in November for a speaking engagement with the IAMA, the only worldwide association for classical music artist managers, and returns to New York in January for the APAP conference, a yearly industry gathering which is the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, hosting, among many other things, over 1,000 artist showcases. At APAP she will participate in a plenary session titled “The Creative Mind: Finding the Flow.”

Prestini’s compositions have been variously characterized as “radiant … amorously evocative” (New York Times) and “spellbinding” (Washington Post). She has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, conservationists, and astrophysicists in multi-media works that have been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet, and which have premiered at BAM, the Krannert Center, the Walker Art Center, and Celebrate Brooklyn. In January, her commissioned contribution to Trinity Church Wall Street’s “Mass Reimaginings” project will be given its premiere by The Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street and its Director of Music Julian Wachner. Written in collaboration with poet Brenda Shaughnessy, the new mass will be featured as part of Trinity’s “Time’s Arrow” festival (Jan 12). Later in the spring the composer will have another piece premiered in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall: titled The Hotel That Time Forgot; the work was commissioned by the prestigious American Composers Orchestra, and features visual artist Kevork Mourad (March 24).

Prestini’s Aging Magician – a meditation on time, youth, and the peculiar magic of ordinary life – was written in collaboration with vocalist and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Rinde Eckert (who also stars in the production), director Julian Crouch, and “musical set” designer Mark Stewart. The piece had its world premiere last spring at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, followed by a performance at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and this season it moves to Broadway, running for nine performances, from March 3 to March 12 at the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street. Prior to its Broadway run, the show will be performed in Phoenix as part of the Gammage Series at Arizona State University. Combining live music, theater, puppetry, instrument-making, and scenic design, it also features a quartet of members from the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, conducted by Dianne Berkun-Menaker. Aging Magician is produced by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt.

In April Prestini presents the West Coast premiere of The Colorado – an acclaimed music-driven eco-documentary by filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu with music by William Brittelle, Glenn Kotche, Prestini, Shara Nova, and Pulitzer Prize laureate John Luther Adams – in Stanford University’s “Stanford Live” series (April 21, 22). The “eco-cantata” score for the film features performances by Roomful of Teeth, Glenn Kotche and Jeffrey Zeigler, with text by conservationist and writer William deBuys and narration by celebrated Shakespearian actor Mark Rylance. The premiere takes place in the Bing Theater on Stanford’s campus, accompanied by live musical performances, on Earth Day in 2017.

Also next spring, in her only show for the year at National Sawdust, Prestini’s music is featured in a concert in the venue’s “Bridging the Gap” series, along with music by her two mentors, Philip Glass and John Zorn. “Bridging the Gap” is a series of concerts of chamber, choral, and solo compositions created to explore student/teacher, mentor/mentee relationships between generations of composers, and is produced in partnership with the Manhattan School of Music and the Yale School of Music and curated by composer Robert Sirota, the Manhattan School’s former president. The series has a particular significance for Prestini, because as she says “it fits so perfectly into why I started the space—to mentor other artists.” Avery Fisher Award-winning cellist Jeffrey Zeigler will perform the New York City premiere of Prestini’s Labyrinth, as well as Glass’s Book of Songs and Poems and Zorn’s Babel, with other Zorn pieces to be announced. Following the performance will be a panel discussion with the three composers, moderated by National Sawdust’s new Director of Publications, veteran music journalist Steve Smith, of New York Times, Time Out New York, and Boston Globe reputation. Smith also runs NS’s new online arts journal, The Log Journal. Earlier this month Prestini and Zeigler went to the Eastman School of Music for a recital that included Labyrinth and another of her new works for electronics and solo cello. Click here to see a trailer for Prestini’s Labyrinth: Installation Concertos.

Next June, Prestini participates in an event in Los Angeles titled the “Dialogues and Reimaginings Piano Festival,” featuring piano students and faculty from UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. The event, which will be broadcast live, includes the premiere of a solo piano work written by Prestini in response to the “Ondine” movement of Ravel’s piano masterwork Gaspard de la Nuit. In the summer the composer’s new opera, Two Oars, a collaboration with Robert Wilson based on Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, continues its development process at Wilson’s Watermill Center.

In the meantime Prestini’s positive press continues to accumulate. The Boston Musical Intelligencer asserted, after the recent triumphant debut of Gilgamesh, that the opera “sparkles, both literally and figuratively.” Van magazine praised her “vividly shimmering and raging” music for the multimedia extravaganza The Hubble Cantata in its Brooklyn premiere, and as the New Yorker summed up the experience: “Crescendos, beauty, drama … It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.” When the Hubble Cantata score was performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the LA Times found it to be “luminously involving music,” and Hyperallergic lauded the piece as “a thundering opus.” As for The Colorado, which had its New York premiere last spring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Times declared of the music: “Some is outright gorgeous. Ms. Prestini’s choral piece for the section ‘A Padre, a Horse, a Telescope’ sets Jesuit sources—including a Hail Mary in Cochimi, an extinct Native American language—to an ethereal blend of Mexican Baroque music and otherworldly ululations.” WQXR’s Q2 named the soundtrack an “Album of the Week,” declaring that it “positively radiates optimism” and calling it “an album so energized by the possibilities of contemporary music-making that it practically glows in the dark.”

Paola Prestini: 2016-17 season

Nov 10
Toronto, ON
Session II Speaker: International Artist Managers’ Association Conference
In collaboration with Ontario Presents

Jan 7
New York, NY
APAP | NYC Conference
Plenary Session: “The Creative Mind: Finding the Flow”

Jan 12
New York, NY
Trinity Church
“Mass Reimaginings” premiere
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street / Julian Wachner

Jan 28
Phoenix, Arizona
ASU Gammage
Aging Magician

March 3-12
New York, NY
New Victory Theater
Aging Magician

March 5
Brooklyn, NY
National Sawdust
Bridging the Gap: Music by Prestini, John Zorn and Philip Glass
With Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Talk with the three composers following performance, led by Steve Smith

March 24
New York, NY
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
The Hotel That Time Forgot, for Video Artist and Orchestra
Commissioned by American Composers Orchestra

April 21, 22
Stanford, CA
Stanford Live, Live Context: Art + Ideas
The Colorado

June 1
Los Angeles, CA
Ostin Music Center
Dialogues and Reimaginings Piano Festival
“Response to Gaspard de la Nuit”: Music by Prestini, Timo Andres and Billy Childs
Inna Faliks, piano

August (Date TBD)
Water Mill, NY
Watermill Center
Two Oars opera development workshop

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© 21C Media Group, November 2016

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