Press

Press Quotes

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 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
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.”
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
April 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.
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 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…”
May 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.
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”
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
November 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.
March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.
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 31, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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.”
December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"
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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.”
March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.
April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."
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."
September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.
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.
November 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."
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.
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 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...
August 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."
December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"
May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
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”
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""
August 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 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 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.'
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
September 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."
December 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability
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 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 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
May 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.
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.
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
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.”
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.
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
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!"
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.”
October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...
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."
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.
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."
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.”
September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."
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 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."
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."
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 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.
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.”
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.”
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."
October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.
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.”
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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.”
December 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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."
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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 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, 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.”
October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.
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.”

Press Quotes

May 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
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.'
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.
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 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
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 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."
February 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.
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 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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…”
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.”
December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"
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.
September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."
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
“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 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."
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.
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
November 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."
December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"
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.”
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.”
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…”
May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
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.”
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
August 8, 2016
“The performance itself was full of magic and wonder. Space, of course, is silent: there is no audible music of the spheres. But, Prestini has written some astonishing musical passages that capture a sense of what it might be like to be set adrift in a universe without the limitations of space or time.”
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 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."
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 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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
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.”
April 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.
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.
August 31, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."
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”
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”
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.
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
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 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability
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."
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
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.”
October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."
September 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."
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 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
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.”
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 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""
October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.
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."
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
November 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.
December 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.
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, 2012
“Ms. Prestini – an inventive composer whose style mixes the ancient and the up-to-date, the folk inspired and the artfully polished”
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.
August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.
March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.
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 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 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 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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."
October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...
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 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.
September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.
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.”
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.
August 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...
December 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
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."
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…”
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

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.
April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."
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 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."
May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
November 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
June 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""
October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.
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."
September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
August 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...
December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"
August 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."
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.
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
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.”
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.”
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 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.
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.”
May 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.
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.”
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 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.”
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”
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
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."
August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.
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.”
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
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.
September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."
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.”
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
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.”
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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.”
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.
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”
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.
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 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, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."
March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.
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 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 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.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
February 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.
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
“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”
September 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."
March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.
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.”
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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 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…”
October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.
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 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.
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.'
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
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."
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"
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 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.
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 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 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.
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 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.”
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!"
November 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."
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."
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 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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.”
October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...
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."
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."

Press Quotes

August 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."
May 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.
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 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."
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."
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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.”
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
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”
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
November 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."
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…”
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.
September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.
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.
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
April 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.
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.”
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."
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."
June 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability
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 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
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 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 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 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 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.
December 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.
May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.
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”
August 31, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."
December 21, 2021
The music was excellent... something of an all-star line-up, and all 11 composers on both nights were women. The singers, all recent graduates of the Juilliard School, were equally excellent.
December 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 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.”
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."
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.
December 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.
October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.
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.
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…”
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 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...
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."
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!"
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.”
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding music…”
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
May 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.
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.
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."
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."
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.
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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.”
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
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 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."
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.”
February 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.
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.”
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…”
December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"
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 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 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.”
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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”
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.'
May 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.
March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.
December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"
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 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."
November 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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 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 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.”
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.”
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 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 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.”
October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...

Press Quotes

October 8, 2022
Prestini writes wonderfully for the chorus, whether it be Christmas carols in a Victorian style for a small ensemble or wordless choruses in two scenes in Act I. There is so much genuine wit in Campbell’s text—his sixth libretto for Minnesota—and there is such variety in Prestini’s expressive score—that we hop onboard the ride and develop an affection for Edward...
May 4, 2023
[Prestini’s] setting of Cavafy’s poem “Voices” for the chorus offered dazzling textures and beautiful counterpoint.
March 21, 2023
This evening was just the healing many of us are seeking —the healing power of soulful art and engaging creative activism.
March 7, 2017
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
December 14, 2023
Like a public square, each Prestini piece is a meeting place across aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural lines.
December 2, 2020
"an unstoppable force"
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 25, 2013
“Well wrought … upbeat and enthralling.”
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!"
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 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.
September 12, 2023
A fairy-tale opera with hidden depth... distinctive, with genuinely touching moments... a mystical atmosphere in which both lightness and darkness loom. Even when all seems right at the end and triangles jangle jubilantly, joy and dazzle are punctuated by a note of discord that seems to question the possibility of happiness ever after.
August 13, 2016
“Crescendos, beauty, drama…It astounded me, this feeling of floating above Earth, and tears began to emerge from my cardboard goggles.”
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.”
March 27, 2023
Paola Prestini’s “The Old Man and the Sea” is an opera of layers. Voices evolve into otherworldly soundscapes as cello and percussion deliver a call-and-response that tugs on our ears like receding waves underfoot. Characters meld into one another as their roles collide and coalesce. Themes cascade together even as they bridge disparate musical motifs ... layers flowed into a swirling gyre of fate, dreams and emotion worthy of the dark blue depths they plumb.
January 13, 2013
“Spellbinding 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.
December 5, 2023
"In Code, [Prestini] writes uncanny birdcalls for Roomful of Teeth and rippling passages for Pratt"
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.”
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.”
February 15, 2024
It is time to revisit everything you know about the opera, because it is a brave new world, and this new opera presentation of The Old Man and the Sea, is a game-changer.
December 13, 2023
"One of the year's most satisfying releases"
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 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 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."
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.'
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…”
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."
April 8, 2011
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."
August 31, 2023
"An album designed to be relistened to with Talmudic fervor. Prestini delves into the still point of Eliot and Hale's turning world, one that was- as more than a thousand letters would suggest- full of complexities and contradictory chasms, a love rendered in words representing both the flesh and the fleshless."
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."
May 11, 2015
Rhapsodic
June 29, 2023
Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability
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.”
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.”
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."
June 28, 2021
"a grand peroration of bell-tolling chords and octaves"
May 16, 2022
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
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 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."
August 8, 2023
Prestini is a deft composer and surefooted dramatically... Touching, elegant music.
May 5, 2023
... the most satisfying work was Paola Prestini’s ‘Voices’. In her beautifully crafted piece, Prestini captured the poignant recollections of beloved voices from childhood that were the first poetry of one’s life. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, without accompaniment or amplification to cloud their sound, expressed those sentiments beautifully.
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 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.”
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.”
November 18, 2022
Prestini examined further how we, as a world, must do better by seeing the truth that is our current reality. A crisis. She brought front and center the fragility of life and the impermanence of all existence.
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."
April 9, 2023
I don't think that the audience present could have been more receptive to the performance… To say it was "genre-defying" would be an understatement …thrilling, entertaining and moving all at once … [Con Alma] uses music in creating a shared experience--showing that even when we are physically alone, we can have a common experience with others.
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."
August 21, 2023
Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...
Paola is an artistic visionary... there is a kind of energy system that follows her and her work everywhere she goes."
January 16, 2016
“exuberant…an extreme expression of female agency.”
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."
January 9, 2013
“The Aging Magician is grandly, even venerably, operatic…[from the composer] who wrote the acclaimed Oceanic Verses.”
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”
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.”
September 14, 2023
"The fiery runs of glassy piano colliding with upper register strings on Paola Prestini's 'Code' brings a wholly modern intensity to a running soloistic-ensemble dialogue until the voices of Roomful of Teeth enter with full-bodied drama."
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.”
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”
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 20, 2023
"Paola Prestini’s Code provided the most dramatic cadenza for the pianist... with trills expanding into double trills in octaves and money-note arpeggios… golden dawn with raindrop glisses… ending where it began in near silence."
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.”
October 10, 2022
Minnesota Opera's 'Edward Tulane' delights with evocative music, dazzling visuals and heart... Prestini's arias and orchestrations are a paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity. Vocal lines move in unpredictable directions — sometimes barely moving at all— and the composer eschews comforting resolutions in favor of chords that keep you hanging.
November 1, 2021
"One of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""
April 4, 2010
"Radiant … [and] amorously evocative.”
September 28, 2023
"Seething passages and beatific states ... Give the commissioning pianist Awadagin Pratt points for good taste: The half-dozen voices featured on this album all earn their time."
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."
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.”
March 26, 2017
“Prestini’s graceful, lovely composition “The Hotel That Time Forgot”, was an exploration of invented memory”
August 25, 2023
"Uncanny ... a rapturous confluence of strings, voices and Pratt's piano ... Pratt has rediscovered the sweet spot he once enjoyed in the recording studio. [STILLPOINT] makes for one endlessly engaging recording. Let's hope we don't have to wait 12 years for the next one."
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.”
August 10, 2016
"It was a thundering opus”
October 12, 2017
‘…the works ability to evoke sheer vastness of what lies beyond our experience.”
November 1, 2013
“Hubble Cantata … a work of extraordinary beauty.”
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 7, 2023
Prestini’s 'Voices' was a joyful and playful sound world that reflected on unification through the human voice. This higher level of awareness that [Prestini] understands wholeheartedly ... empowers others, especially young voices, to share with the world.
May 23, 2016
“But the music…! The Colorado’s soundtrack positively radiates optimism.”
November 29, 2013
“The music was ace.”
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.
April 21, 2016
“Luminously involving music”
November 10, 2014
Next is Listen, Quiet by Paola Prestini, an unexpectedly catchy track featuring Jason Treuting of So Percussion. It’s not so much music for solo cello as it is a fantastically quirky percussion piece with a cello narrator. An expert welder of elements, Prestini cuts in recordings of women’s voices in a way that’s vaguely reminiscent of The Books’ Lemon of Pink album.
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.”
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."
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 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.”
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.
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…”
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.
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 14, 2023
In 2015, Prestini co-founded National Sawdust, one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women. An incubator for a wide variety of experimental music, the Brooklyn venue models what an equitable classical music environment actually sounds like.
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 22, 2012
“Ms. Prestini – an inventive composer whose style mixes the ancient and the up-to-date, the folk inspired and the artfully polished”
October 8, 2022
Edward Tulane was a strong season-opener for this company, marking its forty-ninth premiere. Whether this is an opera primarily for children or for adults can be—and probably will be—debated. It can, of course, be both.
February 15, 2024
Critical Acclaim

The Triangle Review

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

Pamela Vesper
December 14, 2023
Critical Acclaim

VAN Magazine

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

December 14, 2023
Critical Acclaim

VAN Magazine

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

Julia Conrad
September 14, 2023
Critical Acclaim

Bandcamp

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

Peter Margasak
August 31, 2023
Critical Acclaim

VAN Magazine

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

Olivia Giovetti
August 25, 2023
Critical Acclaim

All Things Considered, NPR

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

Tom Huizenga
November 20, 2023
Critical Acclaim

Boston Musical Intelligencer

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

Lee Eiseman
December 5, 2023
Critical Acclaim

National Public Radio

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

Tom Huizenga
December 13, 2023
Critical Acclaim

National Public Radio

"One of the year's most satisfying releases"

Tom Huizenga
September 28, 2023
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

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

Seth Colter Walls
August 21, 2023
Critical Acclaim

I Care If You Listen

Paola Prestini’s Code is spectral and crystalline...

A. Kori Hill
August 8, 2023
Critical Acclaim

BBC Music Magazine

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

Christopher Cook
September 12, 2023
Critical Acclaim

San Francisco Classical Voice

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

Jason Victor Serinus
October 10, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Star Tribune

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

Rob Hubbard
June 29, 2023
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

Prestini surfaces those messy emotions in music of candid vulnerability

Oussama Zahr
April 9, 2023
Critical Acclaim

Broadway World

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

Richard Sasanow
March 27, 2023
Critical Acclaim

The Berkshire Eagle

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

Evan Berkowitz
May 5, 2023
Critical Acclaim

Seen and Heard International

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

Rick Perdian
May 7, 2023
Critical Acclaim

OperaWire

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

Jennifer Pyron
May 4, 2023
Critical Acclaim

The New York Times

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

Anastasia Tsioulcas
March 21, 2023
Critical Acclaim

OperaWire

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

Jennifer Pyron
October 8, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

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

Michael Anthony
October 8, 2022
Critical Acclaim

Opera News

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

Michael Anthony
November 18, 2022
Critical Acclaim

OperaWire

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

Jennifer Pyron
May 16, 2022
Critical Acclaim

San Diego Union Tribune

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

Pam Kragen
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...On the album, Prestini’s gorgeous and mysterious, hypnotically complex compositions, performed by Zeigler with daredevil intensity and a kind of surgical 'mad doctor' precision.""

August 18, 2021
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

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

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