Paola Prestini’s music takes the listener on a journey through different life experiences, creating an aural and visual map of the different countries and cultures that have inspired her. These travels sonically reflect the impact that collective identities, cultures and values have when they meet and dissolve in a person whose artistic roots are the collective sum of many parts.
This culminates in a romantic vision told in the form of calls to prayer, spirituals, narrations, and electronic resonances that come together with visuals to create Prestini’s unique voice.
As the Founding Co-Artistic Director of VisionIntoArt, a NY-based interdisciplinary arts company, I have spearheaded, collaborated on and produced numerous new music projects and events for the past fifteen years. This work has taught me about the balance of respecting others’ ideas, of letting certain ideas go, and how to differentiate between them so as not to compromise artistic integrity. My love in the artistic and executive process is bringing disparate voices together, and allowing the synergy that emerges to grow. I have brought this inclusive vision to all of my curating, with a focus on new music, and interdisciplinary art. I am unswayed by trends and yet excited by all voices; I strive to stay ahead of the curve, and I am tremendously interested in nurturing new talent. I founded my nonprofit, VisionIntoArt, with the belief that artists can provide opportunities for other artists, and that the skills we have as creators can be translated into producing and directing talent.
I am also currently the Creative Director for National Sawdust, a Brooklyn based venue that opened in October 2015. Bringing this venue to life has brought me great joy, and it’s performances have landed on New York Magazine’s Best of the Year list, and our programs and partnerships have been thrilling. Since opening, we have had 17 New York Times reviews-63 world premieres-350 performances, and an audience total of 27,520.
I am a composer, a producer, and a mentor. My influences range from Zorn (his music, his life) and Glass, to Beethoven, Palestrina, and folk music. I have dedicated the past twenty years to collaborating, and I have learned that collaboration can be an arduous process, and it is the balance of respecting people’s ideas, how to let certain ideas go, (and how to know which ones you will not let go) that allows you not to compromise your artistic integrity. Collaboration is an art in and of itself that can only be learned by doing it, making the necessary mistakes. My role in the process is my love of bringing disparate voices together, and seeing what emerges from the synergy. I continue to evolve because I see how different people ingest these new experiences-their rawness to the experience often enlightening certain parts of the collaborative process that were not clear to me before. Each artist’s passion for their ideas reminds me that redefining the boundaries in collaboration is a lifelong process and is absolutely connected to the project at hand, and that even in the hardest collaborative processes, ones identity is not lost, only rediscovered and reaffirmed.
Literature has played a huge role in my writing-it has always been my first collaborator; I love painting music on these canvases-the ideas on the page invite me to play and to think. It began with Neruda and Borges at a very young age, and now, I am actively reading the blog of astrophysicist Mario Livio, pouring into Jung’s Red Book, and am rediscovering the epic, Gilgamesh and the poetry of Brenda Shaughnessy.
When I write, after an initial process of often puzzling mechanical work (finding the language I want to use, and the outside sources that will be incorporated), I am in a state of flow: I often cannot remember the details of writing. It is as if all the years of experience come together to transport me through the process of expressing the cumulative inspirational sources into the musical concept at hand. These moments pay for all the hard work! They are the best moments of my musical life, and even though each musical project has a different entry point, that moment of flow occurs in each experience.
Photos by Erika Harrsch