Composer Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that chart her interest in extra - musical themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She has created, written and produced large scale projects such as the world's largest and first communal VR opera, The Hubble Cantata, and the eco - documentary currently on PBS, The Colorado. Her collaboration Con Alma was featured at the United Nations at the world’s largest gender conference, showcasing the power of women in the digital age. Her work has been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, The Barbican Centre, Bellas Artes, and at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.
Throughout her career, Prestini has crossed genres, brought together different disciplines, and shattered glass ceilings. She was the first woman in the Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative with her grand opera Edward Tulane. Her upcoming chamber opera Sensorium Ex, produced by Beth MorrisonProjects with libretto by Brenda Shaughnessy and choreography by Jerron Herman, examines the intersection of artificial intelligence and disability, using non-verbal or non-typical patterns of speech to explore the fundamental questions of what it means to have voice, and what it means to be fully and essentially human. The development of the musical work for Sensorium Ex is supported by EMPAC, Washington National Opera, the Shed and the Kennedy Center and the AI is being developed by the NYU School of Engineering and the Ability Project. Her new opera theater work Old Man and the Sea, with Karmina Šilecand and Royce Vavrek, featuring Helga Davis, Rodolfo Girón, Nathan Gunn and Jeffrey Zeigler was developed at MASS MoCA and is commissioned and will be premiered by Carolina Performing Arts and Arizona State University. Future collaborations include a choral installation, Port City, with Jad Abumrad, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Jessica Grindstaff, a chamber work about the protofeminist Sor Juana with Magos Herrera and the vocal group Sjaella, and new operas with poet Robin Coste Lewis, and puppeteer/writer and director Julian Crouch. Prestini is also a longtime collaborator with creative producer Beth Morrison Projects.
Prestini is the co-founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn-based arts institution and incubator National Sawdust, where she serves in a strategic and vision-based role. As part of her commitment to equity for the next generation of artists, she started the Hildegard Commission for emerging women and marginalized composers, and the Blueprint Fellowship for emerging composers and women mentors at the Juilliard School. She was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and a Sundance Institute Film Music Program Fellow, has been in residence at the ParkAvenue Armory and MASS MoCA. Prestini is also the Co - Founder of VisionIntoArt, a non - profit new music and interdisciplinary arts production company in New York City that incubates deep process interdisciplinary and impact work. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School and resides in Brooklyn with her husband, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and her son, the yo-yo/rubix master, Tommaso.
Biography taken from composer’s website.
Photo: Caroline Tompkins