Press Acclaim


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.”

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
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”

The New York Times

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