Press Acclaim

The Triangle Review

February 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.

VAN Magazine

December 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.

VAN Magazine

December 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.

National Public Radio

December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"

National Public Radio

December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"

Boston Musical Intelligencer

November 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."

The New York Times

September 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."


September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."

San Francisco Classical Voice

September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.

VAN Magazine

August 31, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."

All Things Considered, NPR

August 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."

I Care If You Listen

August 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...

BBC Music Magazine

August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.

The New York Times

June 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability


May 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.

Seen and Heard International

May 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.

The New York Times

May 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.

Broadway World

April 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.

The Berkshire Eagle

March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.


March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.


November 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.

Star Tribune

October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.

Opera News

October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...

Opera News

October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.

San Fransisco Classical Voice

August 2, 2022
As the composer explained before the live premiere, her aim was to embody both conflict and accord in the dialogue between piano and orchestra, while ultimately opting for optimism by embracing an innate “us” in the act of collaboration. That dramatic shift was evident in her musical design, which oscillates between simmering tensions, muscular bursts, and peaceable resolutions.

Connected to the Opera

June 27, 2022
Paola Prestini, is a composer who expresses a certain part of the contemporary American scene, the one that is…post everything. Very elegant writing [that] pays homage to the American biologist Rachel Carson, a pioneer of the US environmental movement.

Total Theater

June 10, 2022
[A] groundbreaking, experimental production... a fantastical, complex, dream-like work... 'Houses of Zodiac' left me feeling moved in a new and profound way.


May 19, 2022
"The one hour and 20-minute opera-theater ended to dead silence from a stunned, enraptured audience. Then the applause started, audience members stood up, and the cheering lasted a full four minutes."

San Diego Union Tribune

May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...

Opera News

May 13, 2022
“Prestini’s eclectic score, expertly realized by Eckert, the chorus and the Attacca Quartet, ranged from chant-influenced passages to thorny patches of dissonance, moving from background to foreground and back again. At times you forgot there was a score; at other times, like that accordion melody, it was unforgettable... The whole presentation was so innocent, so imaginative, so nurturing, so charming, so beautiful, that my cynical, post-Covid sensibility tried to resist. But we all have our place in the universe, in the present moment, and perhaps beyond. As the Magician discovered, and we along with him, resistance is futile.”

The Marginalian

May 9, 2022
"... the body is the soul-- it is more plainly evident than ever that regulatory control of the mind, of the soul, of consciousness itself. This is what visionary composer and National Sawdust founder Paola Prestini explores with elegance and enchantment in her piece 'Biking Through Time', which I had the pleasure of seeing performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus."

The Financial Times

December 21, 2021
The music was excellent... something of an all-star line-up, and all 11 composers on both nights were women. The singers, all recent graduates of the Juilliard School, were equally excellent.


December 19, 2021
... National Sawdust reopens to a realm of the senses... an indulgent salon of new songs of nostalgia and reckoning... Paola Prestini's evocative 'Distance to the Market', abetted by Adam Richardson's fine, warm baritone, opened the concert... the evening succeeded on all counts."

Opera News

December 16, 2021
An evening of evocative music inspired imaginative storytelling at 21c Liederabend Op. Senses at National Sawdust, co-produced and directed by Beth Morrison Projects and Paola Prestini, acclaimed for their work pushing the boundaries of classical performance... Tenor Alex McKissick’s soaring voice brought the evening to a sweeping conclusion in the program’s last two pieces, selections from Prestini’s opera Edward Tulane... it was as if we were being asked to open our hearts to the evening’s experience. With the impressive talent that filled the stage, it would have been impossible not to.

Strings Magazine

November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""

August 18, 2021
"[G-Force] opens with long, elegiac string notes, but despite being described as a lamentation of sorts, it quickly becomes frenzied, frenetic and even fun...Prestini shrewdly uses the bounce of [the vibraphone]’s sound to play off the traditional string quartet’s textures."

Indie Opera Podcast

July 1, 2021
"This edition of 21c Liederabend bodes incredibly well for the future of art song. All the featured artists are people to look out for. Additionally, since this program is available online, anyone with an internet connection can view it. In that regard, it is truly the ultimate Schubertiades."

Opera News

July 1, 2021
"In [Jarful of Bees] mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti brings rich sound to the rangy, soaring vocal lines and to Royce Vavrek’s compact text."

San Francisco Classical Voice

June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

June 23, 2021
"All the homages extend the legacy, bring it into a piano-centered present day and thereby give pianist Faliks a lengthy set of tone poems and active excitement that shows off her beautiful interpretive skills and brings us to the edge of our seats--or perhaps rather our piano benches!"

Lucid Culture

June 12, 2021
"Paola Prestini’s neoromantically-tinged triptych Ondine: Variations on a Spell begins with the broodingly impressionistic low-midrange Water Sprite, followed by the Bell Tolls, with a long upward drive from nebulosity to an anthemic, glistening payoff. The finale, Golden Bees follows a series of anthemic, flickering cascades."

Classical Voice North America

January 25, 2021
"As a musical documentary of emotion, Herrera and Prestini gathered more than 30 musicians from three continents for their cross-border album of original works, representing a feat that in itself defines the indefatigable spirit of women today."


December 11, 2020
"The Mexican singer Magos Herrera and the New York-based composer Paola Prestini have collaborated on a lovely new album called Con Alma – “With Soul.” The music draws on jazz, chamber music, and Latin song, without ever settling on any one of those things. After all, Herrera is a jazz singer who’s done a whole album with a string quartet, and Prestini is Artistic Director at National Sawdust, a venue that refuses to abide by stylistic boundaries."

The New York Times

December 7, 2020
Join dozens of musicians from around the world for “Con Alma,” a live performance adapted from the recent album of the same title created by the composers Paola Prestini and Magos Herrera.

The Washington Post

December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"

New York Magazine

November 25, 2020
"New York composer Paola Prestini and Mexico-based singer-songwriter Magos Herrera (plus a crew of musicians) used the lockdown to collaborate at a distance, and the result is a melancholy but uplifting quasi-cantata full of bird calls, phone calls, and calls across frozen borders."


November 22, 2020
"The piece [G-Force], composed as a tribute to the close friend named in the title, is a real mood-spinner and makes full use of each instrument’s voice."


February 13, 2020
Prestini’s Thrush Song incorporated the words of author and environmentalist Rachel Carson delivered both by Carson on tape and soprano Lucy Dhegrae, who proved a strong dramatic interpreter on top of her talents as a singer. Prestini played voice against strings, with percussion, to craft an exceptionally literate work. Thematic lines built in a coherent progression, phrases making paragraphs, resounding in a remarkable disruption. Prestini didn’t just give voice to another American heroine, but also to the birds that woman strived to save.


September 18, 2019
“Entitled ‘Holes in the Sky’ after a quote from Georgia O’Keeffe, the concert included music by Clara Schumann, Florence Price, Meredith Monk, Nina Simone, Paola Prestini, Joni Mitchell, and others. It proved a fitting celebration of the work – it’s now safe to say the tradition – of women composers.”

Calgary Herald

July 6, 2019
“How does one direct so that the opera breathes with its own artistic life and not the life of a movie put onto stage? …The answers came from an at-once pellucid and oftentimes deeply emotional score by Paola Prestini, set to Vavrek’s bang-on minimalist libretto…”


June 22, 2018
“The Glass Box” “Prestini’s effects include humming and whistling, with luminous chords underpinning gentle cascades of recitative. As a mother and daughter are reunited at the end, a repeated, unresolved chord adds a note of unease.”

The New York Times

November 8, 2017
“From her opera “Gilgamesh,” Ms. Prestini drew “Prelude and Aria,” which begins with heaving and ominous intensity and evolves into a plaintive vocal monologue, sung meltingly by the countertenor Jakub Jozef Orlinski.”

New York Classical Review

November 8, 2017
“From Paola Prestini we heard a prelude and aria from her opera Gilgamesh. A daring opening, with hard strings biting on a semitone, builds into climbing waves of strings, creating drama and establishing a musical language to use throughout the piece. The vocal part was sung by Jakub Józef Orliński, a promising countertenor with a powerful, direct instrument that can shift between mixed voice and full falsetto without revealing a seam. In this as in all of her work, Prestini shows a strong compositional voice and an arresting focus in her writing: vigorous melodic lines grab the listener, supported by tart harmonies. At this point, she has to be considered a major talent.”

The Los Angeles Times

October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”

The Los Angeles Times

October 10, 2017
“The kind of experimentation Prestini has lent to her work will help shape what masterpieces come out of the next 50 years”

Opera News

October 1, 2017
"The final section features Prestini at her best, as she conjures a frightening Matrix dystopia in which the human mind is converted into artificial intelligence. A mesmerizing haze of sound builds up, layering humming choir, whistling electronics and a rumbling, Ligeti-like cluster chord in the instrumental ensemble that slowly shifts and intensifies, punctuated by radio interceptions of static and a woman’s voice”

New York Classical Review

August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for had a distinct brand of robust lyricism seasoned with witty asides. Violinist Jennifer Choi didn’t spare the Romantic sonorities as she spooled out the piece’s long melodic lines and kissed off the Kreislerian staccato and pizzicato passages."


May 15, 2017
“The Hubble Cantata, is a more than a piece of music. It is a new kind of collaboration: a nexus of art and science.”

The New York Times

March 26, 2017
“The Hotel That Time Forgot”… Prestini’s music conveys the surreal visuals through gently repetitive figures, disparately overlapping lines and swooshing, sliding harmonies.”

New York Classical Review

March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”

Broadway World

March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

September 12, 2016
“It sparkles, both literally and figuratively…Her melodies entice and speak of a modern, yet accessible flare…it holds its intensity with valor through its end.”

The Boston Globe

September 12, 2016
“An enchanted exploration of the eternal mysteries….[Prestini’s] atmospheric but tuneful music for “Gilgamesh” inhabited an indie-opera rainforest of its own…”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

August 28, 2016
“Expansive-beyond-imagination images from the Hubble Space Telescope arrived in 360-degree virtual reality amid a new piece by Paola Prestini titled Hubble Cantata this month at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park… the resulting vistas proved the sky was anything but the limit.”

The New Yorker

August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”

VAN Magazine

August 11, 2016
“Prestini’s music…vividly shimmering and raging with the emotional temperatures of characters as suggested in Vavrek’s libretto, and generally conjuring up an authentically cosmic atmosphere with its trembling strings, ethereal wind lines, and luminous glockenspiel.”


August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”

Feast of Music

August 8, 2016
“The performance itself was full of magic and wonder. Space, of course, is silent: there is no audible music of the spheres. But, Prestini has written some astonishing musical passages that capture a sense of what it might be like to be set adrift in a universe without the limitations of space or time.”

The Observer

August 8, 2016
“A brilliant collaboration. Prestini’s time spent perfecting 30-plus commissioned multidisciplinary works and serving as creative and executive director of Williamsburg’s National Sawdust have only further fortified her with the tact to balance all the voices, mixed media and technology that combine to make The Hubble Cantata such a spectacle…”

The Guardian

August 8, 2016
“Hubble Cantata saw audience members explore the Orion Nebula while a new piece of music played – the latest in a series of experiments between VR technology and classical music”


August 8, 2016
The Hubble Cantata, composer Paola Prestini’s brilliant collaboration with librettist Royce Vavreck and the Hubble Space Telescope’s lead astrophysicist, Dr. Mario Livio. But in all other arenas, Hubble pushes its classical cosmic themes ever more upward than any orchestral work these ears have ear in a long time, upward and toward the stars. the success of this multi-disciplinary performance lies in its ability to exist as both high art and popular entertainment. And so The Hubble Cantata is a work that knows no parallel, pushing boundaries of technology and presentation that push our city’s relationship with multi-disciplinary performance further into uncharted territory.


May 23, 2016
“A soundtrack at its most pure, this live score imparted a more resonant sensation than just film or concert alone; the whole evening brought together both sight and sound at the height of their powers.”


May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”

The New York Times

May 19, 2016
“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.”

The New York Times

May 19, 2016
“the music — commissioned from five composers and performed by some of the most innovative soundsmiths around — is specifically tailored to the film’s passionate environmental advocacy and carries equal weight with the visual.”

The Los Angeles Times

April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”

Boston Globe

February 7, 2016
“Paola Prestini invited listeners into her sensually saturated dreams…soloists Tim Fain, violin, and Maya Beiser, cello, performed the two captivating concertos of Prestini’s ‘Labyrinth,’ surrounded by a phantasmagoria of visual projections.”

Art and Culture Today

January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”


November 6, 2015
“magnificent drumming…a successful experiment…pitched towards the ecstatic sense of wonder in the natural world…a showcase for lovely and refined music making by composers and performers alike.”

New Sounds

May 11, 2015

Q2 Music

December 15, 2014
Prestini’s style weaves folk melodies and field samples with massive choral sections reminiscent of some forgotten Renaissance Mass, all filtered through her own distinctive musical language… the overall effect is engaging and quite moving. The major themes of transformation, immigration and culturally complex, layered ethnicity seem to resonate both on a macro level in the age of globalization, as well as on a micro level in what Prestini calls the search for 'internal geography.'

Q2 Music

November 10, 2014
Next is Listen, Quiet by Paola Prestini, an unexpectedly catchy track featuring Jason Treuting of So Percussion. It’s not so much music for solo cello as it is a fantastically quirky percussion piece with a cello narrator. An expert welder of elements, Prestini cuts in recordings of women’s voices in a way that’s vaguely reminiscent of The Books’ Lemon of Pink album.

New York Classical Review

June 4, 2014
The evening was kicked off by composer, mover and shaker Paola Prestini, a curator of the annual River to River festival and creative director of the Brooklyn-based Original Music Workshop.

The Wall Street Journal

November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”

The New York Times

November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”

Classical TV

November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”

The New York Times

June 26, 2013
“Mr. Lubovitch’s new 'As Sleep Befell' made for a better match with Ms. Prestini’s music. At the center of a semicircle of string, wind and percussion players stood the vocalist Helga Davis, a kind of murmuring angel. Six shirtless male dancers were arrayed out in front of her on the ground, tossing and turning handsomely to Ms. Prestini’s atmospherics, as if in a shared dream … [it was] visually arresting.”

The Washington Post

January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”


January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”

The New York Times

June 27, 2012
“A sweeping social portrait of southern Italy.” … ”the songs and choral settings are painted in the bright hues and varied rhythms of folk exotica." ... “Their video counterparts in an artful film.”

The Washington Post

June 24, 2012
“Paola Prestini, and her creative team have high ambitions…[and] common sense about what works onstage: characters you can connect to, music that engages.” ... “The layering of ideas and music knitted together to present something that moves forward with the vitality of the original folk material.”

The New York Times

June 22, 2012
“Ms. Prestini – an inventive composer whose style mixes the ancient and the up-to-date, the folk inspired and the artfully polished”

Opera Pulse

June 20, 2012
“An inquisitively progressive piece.” ... “[baritone Chris Burchett’s] depth and focus is quite beautiful.” ... “This is, I think, what will make us want to see this again and again- we’ll take something completely new from it each time we see it.” ... “Overall, I must and I will see this project in its entirety… it’s a gem.”

New York Times

April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."

The New York Times

April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”

Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."