Paola Prestini

Paola Prestini, Visionary-in-Chief

Named a “composer-impresario” by The New Yorker, Paola Prestini’s compositions have been deemed “radiant” and “amorously evocative” by The New York Times. Her works have been performed worldwide, from the Kennedy Center and BAM’s Next Wave Festival in the US, to BEMUS in Serbia, Etnafest in Italy, and the Barbican Centre in London. Named by NPR as one of the “Top 100 composers in the World under 40,” she has been commissioned and performed by Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet in venues and festivals worldwide. In 1999, while still a student at the Juilliard School, she co-founded VisionIntoArt, an interdisciplinary production company that has created over 100 multimedia productions worldwide. She was recently appointed the Creative Director of the Brooklyn based new venue and non profit, Original Music Workshop (OMW) at the National Sawdust Factory.

Newest projects include a new commission for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 21c Liederabend; The Hubble, an evening length work with Royce Vavrek, commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts with astrophysicist Mario Livio, performed at BAM’s Next Wave Festival; a 2014–15 residency at the Park Avenue Armory/Watermill Center for Aging Magician with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and JACK Quartet commissioned by the Walker Arts Center and the Krannert Center; The Colorado, a new eco-cantata with film by Murat Eyuboglu and text by conservationist William deBuys for Roomful of Teeth, developed at MASS MoCA for the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Gilgamesh (part of the Ouroboros Trilogy), an opera with Cerise Jacobs presented by Boston Celebrity Series in a Beth Morrison Projects production; and Oceanic Verses at the Barbican Centre with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (released on VIA Records with Trinity Choir). Her residencies include MASS MoCA, the Hermitage Retreat, the Watermill Center, the Ucross Foundation, Sundance Institute, and LMCC Governor’s Island, and she has worked in colleges and in residencies in Italy, Africa, Mexico and Venezuela. She was a 2012 Musical Exchange Fellow for Carnegie Hall as a featured artist, and was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She is passionate about education, having taught from inner city schools in New York, to El Sistema in Venezuela. She is the editor of the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer book, and her music is released on VIA Records, Innova, and Tzadik Records; her writing is published in the Arcana series, by Hips Road. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School, and has studied with Samuel Adler, Robert Beaser and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Courtenay Casey, Managing Director

Courtenay Casey joined VisionIntoArt as its Managing Director in December 2012 after working as a Concerts and Attractions Agent for Michael Moore Agency for two years. Prior to being a theatre/design agent, Mrs. Casey was the Associate Manager for Artistic Planning with the New York Philharmonic. In this role, she was responsible for the success of several critically acclaimed productions, including Le Grand Macabre featuring Giants Are Small design and direction, Sondheim’s Birthday concert- featuring an all star cast including David Hyde Pierce, Elaine Stritch, Patti LuPone and others, My Fair Lady- featuring Kelsey Grammer and Kelli O’Hara, and several fundraising concerts under the musical direction of Marvin Hamlisch, Lorin Maazel and Alan Gilbert. Mrs. Casey was also a key member in the organization and success of CONTACT’s premiere series- a new music series produced by the New York Philharmonic. Trained as a classical singer at the University of Michigan and New England Conservatory, she began her work in arts administration at Opera Boston, where she started their Education Outreach Program in 2002.  Currently, she is on the Board of Directors with Chelsea Opera and Art Song Preservation Society of New York and is an Emerging Leaders of New York Arts Fellow. She is pursuing her Certificate in Arts Administration from New York University.

Natalia Schwien, Label Director, Director of Communications 

Natalia is a writer, producer, and musician. She has been regularly published in Time Out New York, as well as other publications about culture in NYC.

She is the Producer and Curator at National Sawdust, a performing arts space and recording studio in Williamsburg. The space opens in October 2015, but has been hosting performances and curating festivals for the past three years.

Natalia was an Associate Developer at More Partnerships, a boutique agency that develops partnerships between brands, causes and artists, where she has helped produce the Global Citizen Festival since 2013, and The Stella Artois Chalice Symphony with The Cold War Kids which was released in February 2014.  She wrote a blog detailing interesting CSR campaigns around the world for More Partnerships.

Within the theatre world, she worked as Assistant to the Director under Jonathan Bank at the Mint Theatre, and in the development department of the National Theatre of Ireland, The Abbey Theatre, while living in Dublin.

In the film sphere, Natalia graduated from New York University with a degree in film production from Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked on over thirty short films, six of which she produced. She has directed three shorts, which can be viewed upon request. She has also worked on the Dr. Oz Show, and on a few independent features.

She has lived and worked in Dublin, London, Paris, and New York City, and has spent time volunteering in Peru, Panama, and along the Gaza Strip.   She has been a vocalist for various groups performing all over NYC, and will be releasing her first solo project in Spring of 2016.

Bryan Nebel, Associate Producer

Bryan Nebel is a composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist equally adept in the worlds of concert music, rock, jazz, country, folk, and blues. His concert pieces range from orchestra, symphonic band, chorus, various chamber ensembles, and works for acoustic instruments with electronics. His self-engineered/self-produced/self-released albums—Bringing Myself Home (2012) and From Deep in the Ground (2014)—are enjoying success in the US, UK, and Europe, as they have been continuously streamed and/or downloaded on a weekly basis since their respective release dates. Jim Campilongo (guitarist with Norah Jones and of his own Electric Trio), who makes an appearance on both albums, observes, “Bryan is a rare breed of musician. By combining his skills as a songwriter, a well-schooled know-how, and his heartfelt playing, he creates a fresh and interesting point-of-view—one that is all his own.”

Born into a musical family, Bryan began studying classical guitar with a local nun at five years old. His compositional studies began under Pulitzer Prize–nominated composer John Downey (protégé of Darius Milhaud, Nadia Boulanger, and Arthur Honegger, and knight of the French government). As a composition major at Indiana University–Bloomington, Bryan was presented with a Composer’s Contest Scholarship Award totaling $24,000. He returned to school in New York City, earning his BA in music from The City University of New York–CSI. He finished summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, received Honors in the Music Major for composition and also the Arleigh B. Williamson Award for Academic Excellence in Liberal Arts, a prize given annually to one member of the graduating class.

During his early twenties in Chicago and Milwaukee, Bryan was a professional percussionist, jazz drummer, and later, a blues guitarist (sharing the stage with Buddy Guy on several occasions). During this time, he experimented with many genres. Upon relocating to New York City in 2008, Bryan returned to focusing heavily on composing and performing his original material, leading a trio as guitarist and vocalist. While jazz, rock, and blues elements still exist in his compositions, his music has shifted back to the concert music of his earlier years. But this time around, it embraces all the experience gained through his encounters with the diverse musical worlds he was immersed in. Current projects include an opera with Pulitzer- and Tony-nominated librettist Arthur Kopit, a concerto for solo cello and electronics, a piece for solo violin with electronics, a set of solo piano pieces in the style of Satie titled Gymnoponderies, and a string quartet.

Management Collaborators

Caleb Custer, Website Designer

Caleb Custer loves integrating technology and the arts. Currently he works as a digital marketing consultant for arts clients in New York. He previously worked in digital at aka NYC, a full-service agency for Broadway where he worked with clients such as Book of Mormon, Billy Elliot, and DreamWorks Dragons Live. Before that, he was a marketing strategist and information architect at Design Brooklyn. He also spent four years as the director of marketing at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet where he developed web-based audience engagement initiatives like project52 and Passport among many others. He holds an M.F.A. from Florida State University and a B.A.A. from Campbell University.