a work for piano that meditates on the idea of Grace, it begins with a slow unfolding chordal section and simple line, and ends in a frenzy of joyous runs-emblematic of the hope and energy that will be needed to overcome this complex moment in time.
Paola Prestini 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. Her compositions have been commissioned and performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Barbican Centre, Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera, among others. She created the largest communal VR opera with The Hubble Cantata, was part of the New York Philharmonic’s legendary Project 19 initiative, and has written and produced large scale projects like the eco-documentary The Colorado narrated by Mark Rylance (premiered and commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Houston Da Camera Series) and the lauded opera theater work Aging Magician (premiered and commissioned by the Walker Arts Center and the Krannert Center, with performances at ASU, the New Victory Theater and San Diego Opera).
Prestini is known for her genre- and glass ceiling-breaking roles, including being the first woman in the New Works Initiative with her grand opera Edward Tulane (Minnesota Opera), and bringing artificial intelligence and disability visibility/impact together in the chamber opera Sensorium Ex (Atlanta Opera and Beth Morrison Projects for the Prototype Festival). In December 2020, she released Con Alma, an album and immersive digital event in collaboration with Mexican singer-songwriter Magos Herrera and more than 30 musicians around the world. In January 2021, she joined the Kennedy Center and the Apollo Theater to launch Active Hope, a podcast that explores the role of artistic intellect and national strategic leadership at a pivotal moment for the arts. Her upcoming works include piano concertos for Awadagin Pratt and A Far Cry, and Lara Downes with the Louisville Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, and The Ravinia Festival.
She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn based arts institution and incubator, National Sawdust, and 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. She was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and a Sundance Fellow, has been in residence at the Park Avenue Armory and MASS MoCA, and was a graduate of the Juilliard School.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon