Creative & Executive Director, National Sawdust
Paola Prestini is “the enterprising composer and impresario” (New York Times) whose interdisciplinary vision is helping to shape the future of new music. 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, New York City Opera, and the Kronos Quartet. Her compositions have been performed worldwide, from the Kennedy Center, BAM, and the Park Avenue Armory, to London’s Barbican Centre. Prestini serves as “visionary-in-chief” (Time Out New York) of VisionIntoArt (VIA), the non-profit multimedia production company she co-founded as a student in 1999. Dedicated to fostering collaborative, interdisciplinary new music, and providing integral, comprehensive support from fund-raising, commissioning, and incubation to performance and beyond, VIA is the sustaining force behind more than one hundred original productions to date. In 2014, Prestini presided over the launch of VIA Records, hailed as “an essential new voice in the future of American classical music” (Q2 Music). She is the Creative and Executive Director of National Sawdust, a nonprofit Brooklyn-based space for arts incubation, performance, and recording, opening Fall 2015.
Incorporating powerful visual and dramatic components, Prestini’s multimedia creations address such extra-musical issues as conservation, astrophysics, and politics. Her current and recent projects include works for Los Angeles Philharmonic’s inaugural 21c Liederabend concert; Epiphany, a choral installation for BAM’s 2015 Next Wave Festival with the Young People’s Chorus, film by Ali Hossaini and direction by Michael McQuilken; The Hubble Cantata, an evening-length collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts with astrophysicist Mario Livio, soprano Jessica Rivera and the Norwegian ensemble 1B1 to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Hubble telescope will be recorded for VIA Records; The Colorado, a new eco-cantata for Roomful of Teeth, with film by Murat Eyuboglu and text by conservationist William deBuys, was developed at MASS MoCA and will premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Houston’s Da Camera series; Aging Magician with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus will premiere at the Walker Arts Center and the Krannert Center; Labyrinth, a cello and violin installation concerto to premiere at the Isabella Gardner Museum in 2016; and a reprise of her multimedia opera Oceanic Verses with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall and at the Watermill Center with Choir of Trinity Wall Street in 2016. Works in development include The Ribbon Project—a mass re-imagining with Choir of Trinity Wall Street with text by Brenda Shaughnessy and visuals by Anne Patterson produced by the Dillon Gallery; a new opera, Gilgamesh, (commissioned by Friends of Madam Whitesnake) directed by Michael Counts with libretto by Cerise Jacobs, begins development at the New England Conservatory and Boston University in 2015 and premieres in Boston in 2016 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre; and Two Oars, a new work with Robert Wilson (based on The Old Man and the Sea) recently workshopped at the Watermill Center.
Prestini’s honors include two ASCAP awards and fellowships from Paul & Daisy Soros and Carnegie Hall, 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 and with El Sistema in Venezuela, and institutions 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.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Director of Artistic Planning / Curator, National Sawdust
Courtenay Casey is the Director of Artistic Planning for National Sawdust—a Brooklyn based non-profit that provides state of the art facilities and support to a wide range of composers, musicians, and emerging talent, which opened in Fall 2015. She is also a producer for VisionIntoArt, a new music driven non-profit that produces multi-disciplinary works around the world.
With over ten years “behind the stage” experience in the performing arts and working with some of the most prestigious artists from Broadway to the concert hall, Courtenay has managed and produced over seventy productions ranging from elaborate world premieres to intimate workshops.
Courtenay is a Board Member of Original Music Workshop and Art Song Preservation Society of New York. She was a 2012 Emerging Leaders of New York (ELNYA) fellow and is currently pursuing an Arts Administration Certificate from NYU. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Producer of Special Projects, VisionIntoArt
Label Director, Label Director
Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most versatile cellists of our time. Known for his independent streak, he has commissioned dozens of works, and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. Described as “fiery”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone” by the New York Times, he has given many notable premiers including works by John Adams, Damon Albarn, Derek Charke, John Corigliano, Henryk Gorecki, John King, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and John Zorn to name a few. His collaborations include Andy Akiho, Laurie Anderson, Nora Chipaumire, Helga Davis, Philip Glass, Hauschka, Magos Herrera, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, David Krakauer, Hafez Modirzadeh, Kimmo Pohjonen, Gyan Riley, Netsayi and Black Pressure and Tom Waits.
Production Manager, VIA Records