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. 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; The Hubble Cantata, an evening-length Virtual Reality collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, astrophysicist Mario Livio and performers Nathan Gunn and Jessica Rivera which premiered at Celebrate Brooklyn for 6,000 and will be presented at The Kennedy Center in May for the Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy; The Colorado, a eco-cantata for Roomful of Teeth with film by Murat Eyuboglu and text by conservationist William deBuys, which was developed at MASS MoCA and premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Houston’s Da Camera series and will be presented by Stanford Live 2017 and The Kennedy Center in 2018; Aging Magician with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus which debuted at the Walker Arts Center, the Krannert Center, Arizona State University, and the New Victory Theater on Broadway; Labyrinth, a cello and violin installation concerto that premiered at the Krannert Center and the Isabella Gardner Museum in 2016; Mass Re-imagining with Choir of Trinity Wall Street with text by Brenda Shaughnessy which premiered on 2017 Time’s Arrow Festival; the new opera, Gilgamesh (commissioned by Friends of Madam Whitesnake) directed by Michael Counts with libretto by Cerise Jacobs premiered in Boston in 2016 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre; and The Hotel That Time Forgot premiered in Zankel Hall, Carnegie hall in 2017, performed by American Composers Orchestra with video installation by the Japanese video artist Mami Kosemura. New works include Two Oars, an operatic work with Robert Wilson (based on The Old Man and the Sea) which will be workshopped at the Watermill Center in 2017; a joint commission by the Juilliard School and The Morgan Library to write a solo piece for piano to be performed at The Morgan Library in 2017; and Cindy Sherman Film Stills for soprano and ensemble, featuring Eve Gigliotti, directed by RB Schlather, with libretto by Royce Vavrek to be workshopped in 2017-18.
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