Press

Press Quotes

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."
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."
August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."
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."
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."
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.”
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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.
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.”
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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.
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…”
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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."
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.
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.”
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”
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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.
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."
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.”
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.”
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…”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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.”
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”
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
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.”
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."
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”
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”
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."
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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.”
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.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
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.
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.
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.”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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.
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."
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.”
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
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.”
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
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.”
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 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.”
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."
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."
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."
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”
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.”
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."
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.'
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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
April 8, 2011
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”
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!"
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."
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…”

Press Quotes

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.
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.”
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”
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.”
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.
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.
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
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."
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”
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.
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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."
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”
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."
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…”
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.”
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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!"
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
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.”
April 8, 2011
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”
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.”
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.”
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."
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
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."
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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."
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.”
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.”
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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."
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”
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.”
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.
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.'
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
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…”
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."
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."
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.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
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.”
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."
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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 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.”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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."
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."
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…”
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."
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.”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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."
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."
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.
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.”

Press Quotes

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."
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.”
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.”
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.
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
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”
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.”
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."
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.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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.”
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.”
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.
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
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."
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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."
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.”
April 8, 2011
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”
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”
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…”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
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.
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.”
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!"
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."
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.
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.”
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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.”
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.”
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."
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”
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.
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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…”
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.”
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
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."
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."
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
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.”
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.”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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.
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.”
August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."
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."
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
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.”
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.”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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.”
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.
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”
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."
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."
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."
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.'
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."
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…”
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.”
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."
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.”
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."

Press Quotes

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."
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”
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.”
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.”
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."
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…”
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
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."
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.”
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."
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.
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!"
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.”
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”
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.”
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.”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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.
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.”
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
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.
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.”
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.”
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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.
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."
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.”
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.”
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."
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.”
August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
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”
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.”
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.”
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.'
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.”
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 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."
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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.”
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."
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."
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."
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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…”
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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.
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.”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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."
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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.”
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”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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 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."
April 8, 2011
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
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."
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”

Press Quotes

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."
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
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.”
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."
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.”
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”
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.
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.”
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.”
April 8, 2011
“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”
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.”
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.”
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."
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.”
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.”
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."
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."
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."
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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 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."
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.”
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.'
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
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."
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."
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."
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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."
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.”
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.
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.”
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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."
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
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!"
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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”
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
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.”
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."
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.”
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.
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
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.”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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.”
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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.”
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.
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.
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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."
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."
August 31, 2017
"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."
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.”
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.
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.”
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…”
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.
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 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.”
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…”
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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 2, 2022
Critical Acclaim

San Fransisco Classical Voice

"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."

Josef Woodard
June 27, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Connected to the Opera

"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."

Fabio Larovere
May 19, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Patch

"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."

Helen Ofield
May 13, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

“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.”

James Chute
June 10, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Total Theater

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

Willard Manus
May 9, 2022
Critical Acclaim

The Marginalian

"... 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."

Maria Popova
Critical Acclaim

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

Philip Glass
December 21, 2021
Critical Acclaim

The Financial Times

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.

John Rockwell
December 19, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Bachtrack

... 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."

Kurt Gottschalk
December 16, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

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.

Evelyn Kocak
October 10, 2017
Critical Acclaim

The Los Angeles Times

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

November 1, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Strings Magazine

"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time."

August 18, 2021
Critical Acclaim

NJ.com

"[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."

James C. Taylor
July 1, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

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

Judith Malafronte
July 1, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Indie Opera Podcast

"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."

Gregory Moomjy
June 28, 2021
Critical Acclaim

San Francisco Classical Voice

"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"

Richard S. Ginell
June 23, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

"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!"

Grego Applegate Edwards
June 12, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Lucid Culture

"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."

January 25, 2021
Critical Acclaim

Classical Voice North America

"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."

Xenia Hanusiak
December 11, 2020
Critical Acclaim

NewSounds

"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."

John Schaefer
December 7, 2020
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

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.

Katherine Cusumano & Emma Grillo
December 2, 2020
Critical Acclaim

The Washington Post

"an unstoppable force"

Michael Brodeur
November 25, 2020
Critical Acclaim

New York Magazine

"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."

Justin Davidson
November 22, 2020
Critical Acclaim

WTTW

"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."

Hedy Weiss
August 8, 2016
Critical Acclaim

Observer

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.

Justin Joffe
August 31, 2017
Critical Acclaim

New York Classical Review

"[The Phoenix} left one wishing for more...it 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."

David Wright
November 6, 2015
Critical Acclaim

MusicalAmerica

“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.”

Daniel Stephen Johnson
January 16, 2016
Critical Acclaim

Art and Culture Today

“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”

Nélida Nassar
February 7, 2016
Critical Acclaim

Boston Globe

“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.”

Zoë Madonna
April 21, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Los Angeles Times

“Luminously involving music”

Mark Swed
May 19, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“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.”

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
May 19, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“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.”

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
May 23, 2016
Critical Acclaim

NewSounds

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

Daniel Stephen Johnson
May 23, 2016
Critical Acclaim

MetLiveArts

“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.”

Meryl Cates
August 8, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Guardian

“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”

Brian Wise
August 8, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Observer

“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…”

Justin Joffe
May 11, 2015
Critical Acclaim

New Sounds

Rhapsodic

Marina Kifferstein
December 15, 2014
Critical Acclaim

Q2 Music

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.'

Marina Kifferstein
November 10, 2014
Critical Acclaim

Q2 Music

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.

Carol Ann Cheung
June 4, 2014
Critical Acclaim

New York Classical Review

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.

Kurt Gottschalk
November 29, 2013
Critical Acclaim

The Wall Street Journal

“The music was ace.”

Rebecca Bratburd
August 8, 2016
Critical Acclaim

Feast of Music

“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.”

Steven Pisano
August 10, 2016
Critical Acclaim

Hyperallergic

"It was a thundering opus”

Carey Dunne
August 11, 2016
Critical Acclaim

VAN Magazine

“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.”

Kenji Fujishima
August 13, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The New Yorker

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

Sarah Larson
August 28, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“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.”

David Patrick Stearns
September 12, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Boston Globe

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

Zoë Madonna
September 12, 2016
Critical Acclaim

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

“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.”

Justin Casinghino
November 25, 2013
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”

Steve Smith
November 1, 2013
Critical Acclaim

Classical TV

“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”

June 26, 2013
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“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.”

Brian Seibert
March 7, 2017
Critical Acclaim

Broadway World

“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”

Kristen Morale
March 26, 2017
Critical Acclaim

New York Classical Review

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

Anthony Tommasini
March 26, 2017
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

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

Anthony Tommasini
May 15, 2017
Critical Acclaim

WQXR

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

Daniel Stephen Johnson
October 12, 2017
Critical Acclaim

The Los Angeles Times

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

Mark Swed
October 1, 2017
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

"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”

Joe Cadagin
January 13, 2013
Critical Acclaim

The Washington Post

“Spellbinding music…”

Joan Reinthaler
November 8, 2017
Critical Acclaim

New York Classical Review

“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.”

Eric C. Simpson
November 8, 2017
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“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.”

Anthony Tommasini
January 9, 2013
Critical Acclaim

WQXR

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

Marion Lignana Rosenberg
June 27, 2012
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

“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.”

Allan Kozinn
June 24, 2012
Critical Acclaim

The Washington Post

“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.”

Anne Midgette
June 22, 2018
Critical Acclaim

MusicalAmerica

“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.”

Bruce Hodges
June 22, 2012
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

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

Allan Kozinn
July 6, 2019
Critical Acclaim

Calgary Herald

“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…”

Stephan Bonfield
June 20, 2012
Critical Acclaim

Opera Pulse

“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.”

Evan McCormack
September 18, 2019
Critical Acclaim

Blogcritics

“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.”

Jon Sobel
April 8, 2011
Critical Acclaim

New York Times

“Forged an enigmatic détente…potent…soulful.”

Steve Smith
April 4, 2010
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”

Steve Smith
February 13, 2020
Critical Acclaim

Bachtrack

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.

Kurt Gottschalk