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The Juilliard School, New York, NY; Master of Music in Composition, 1999

The Juilliard School, New York, NY; Bachelor of Music in Composition, 1997

The Course for Young Composers, Hoy, Orkney Islands; Scotland, UK, 1996

The Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, MD; Bachelor of Music studies, 1992-1994


Samuel Adler, The Juilliard School, 1998-1999

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, The Course for Young Composers, 1996

Robert Beaser, The Juilliard School, 1994-1998

Morris Cotel, The Peabody Conservatory, 1992-1994


VisionIntoArt & National Sawdust

Paola Prestini is “the enterprising composer and impresario” (New York Times) whose interdisciplinary vision is helping to shape the future of new music. Named one of Musical America’s “Top 30 Musical Innovators 2016″ and one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music”  by the Washington Post, her music has been commissioned by and performed by institutions such as Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera, and her compositions and multimedia works have been performed and seen worldwide, from the Kennedy Center, BAM, and the Park Avenue Armory in New York, to London’s Barbican Centre, Milano’s Teatro Manzoni, and Zimbabwe’s HIFA festival. Her filmscores and works have been seen at The Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, and on the Amazon series, Mozart in the Jungle. Prestini’s career has focused on collaboration and large scale, deep process multimedia work. She often acts as a producer in these works, working for years to perfect and bring to life her interdisciplinary visions. She co-founded VisionIntoArt, a multimedia production company in 1999 that commissions herself and countless colleagues to work in interdisciplinary settings. Prestini is the founding CEO and Artistic Director of National Sawdust, a nonprofit Brooklyn-based space for arts incubation, performance, and recording that opened October 1, 2015.


The River Project: The Amazon

Live scored documentary film and education project (second in a series of three films). In collaboration with filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu, conservationist William deBuys, Roomful of Teeth, percussionist Glenn Kotche and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler. Producer and Composer. In development at National Sawdust, 2020

Film Stills

Operatic monodrama with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, directed by RB Schlather, featuring mezzo soprano Eve Gigliotti. In residency at National Sawdust, 2019

Edward Tulane

Grand opera for Minnesota Opera with libretto by Mark Campbell and directed by Eric Simonson, 2019

Two Oars

Grand opera conceived with and directed by Robert Wilson and a libretto by Royce Vavrek, featuring vocalist Helga Davis and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler. Premiere at Croatian National Theater, Zagreb, Croatia in 2018; US premiere at Arizona State University, 2019

The Hotel That Time Forgot

Orchestra work with Mami Kosemura, video artist. Premiered at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra, 2017

Aging Magician

Opera-theater collaboration with performer/librettist Rinde Eckert, director/designer Julian Crouch, instrument inventor Mark Stewart, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the Attacca Quartet. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center and Krannert Center with performances at ASU Gammage and the New Victory Theater on Broadway. Co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, 2017

The Hubble Cantata 

VR tinged space cantata, with text by librettist Royce Vavrek, astrophysicist Mario Livio, and filmmaker Eliza McNitt. Starring Nathan Gunn and Jessica Rivera. Performed at Bric’s Celebrate Brooklyn to an audience of +6,000, the Kennedy Center, and LA’s Ford Theater with Los Angeles Opera. A National Sawdust Production, co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, 2017

We Breathe Again

Filmscore for PBS documentary with live score performances by Nels Cline, Jeffrey Zeigler, Cornelius Dufallo, David Cossin, and Tanya Tagaq, 2017

The Imaginary World of Wild Order

Mass with text by Brenda Shaughnessy, part of the Mass Re-Imaginings Projects commissioned by Choir of Trinity Wall Street, 2017


Grand opera premiered at Arts Emerson at the Cutler Majestic, Boston. Libretto by Cerise Jacobs, directed by Michael Counts, starring Heather Buck, Christopher Burchett, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Andrew Nolen, and  Hila Plitmann. Commissioned by Friends of Madam White Snake, produced by Beth Morrison Projects, 2016


A pair of installation concertos (with visuals by Erika Harrsch and Carmen Kordas), performed at the Isabella Gardner Museum and the Krannert Center, commissioned by the Krannert Center. Performed by Maya Beiser and Tim Fain. Co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, 2016

The River Project: The Colorado

Live scored documentary film and education project. Developed at MASS MoCA for Roomful of Teeth, Glenn Kotche, and Jeffrey Zeigler. Produced by VisionIntoArt and performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Houston’s Da Camera Series, Stanford Live and the Kennedy Center, 2016-17


Children’s mass with text by Niloufar Talebi and film Ali Hossaini. Performed at BAM’s Next Wave Festival featuring Young People’s Chorus, ACME, and Ian Rosenbaum. Commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music, produced by VisionIntoArt, 2015; The Guildhall (London, UK), 2018

21C Liederabend

Multimedia vocal festival performed at Galapagos Art Space, The Kitchen, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Co-directed and co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, 2010-15

Oceanic Verses

Folk opera with text by Donna Di Novelli and film by Ali Hossaini.  Performed at Bard College, Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, New York City Opera VOX, the Kennedy Center, the River to River Festival, and the Barbican with BBC orchestra. Starring Christopher Burchett, Helga Davis, Hila Plitmann, and Claudio Prima. Carnegie Hall Commission. Co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, 2013


National Sawdust, Founding CEO and Artistic Director, Brooklyn, NY 2010-present

VisionIntoArt, Founding Director, New York, NY 2001-present

Through VisionIntoArt and National Sawdust (NS), Prestini has presided over a prestigious board including luminaries in the financial, philanthropic and foundation worlds. Through VisionIntoArt she commissioned and produced over one hundred multimedia productions in all types of venues, nationally and internationally. Since opening National Sawdust, she has presided over 700 performances for more than 60,000 people and caught the attention of some of the world’s most influential artists, thinkers and journalists for NS’ fresh approach to serving 21st-century artists and audiences. The New York Times has written that National Sawdust is “ideal for productions that revitalize the art form at a time when it could use some shaking up,”and  the New Yorker has called it “a smashing success”. Prestini helped complete the sixteen million dollar capital campaign for National Sawdust,  and has managed programming, communication, development, and partnerships since its inception. She currently oversees a 4 million budget. Prestini has also presided over several initiatives: the creation of VIA Records, hailed by Q2 as “an essential new voice in the future of American classical music”, The Log, NS’ online publication heralded by veteran journalist, Steve Smith, and The Hildegard Competition, created to help women composers.


Honoree American Composers Orchestra, 40th Anniversary Gala, New York, NY, 2017

Musical America’s “Top 30 Musical Innovators 2016″

Microsoft “People Who Inspire” Campaign, International, 2016

Honoree the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brooklyn, NY, 2015

NEA Grantee for The River Project: The Amazon, Labyrinth Installation Concertos, The Colorado, and Aging Magician, 2014-17

NEFA Awardee for Aging Magician, 2014

Awardee ASCAP Victor Herbert Career Award, 2014

Awardee New York State Council on the Arts, Individual Artist Grants, 2006-2009


Aging Magician, VIA Records, 2016

The Hubble Cantata, VIA Records, 2016

The Colorado, VIA Records, 2016

Labyrinth, VIA Records, 2015

Something of Life, Innova/VIA Records, 2014

Oceanic Verses, VIA Records, 2014

Body Maps, Tzadik Records, 2008

Without, Kronos Quartet, On The Fly Films, 2009

Sounds and Traveling Songs, VisionIntoArt, 2009

Very Young Composer Guidebook, Editor, New York Philharmonic, 2008 

A Map to Collaboration, Arcana III, Musicians on Music, Hips Road, edited by John Zorn, 2007

Sympathique, Melia Watras, Flor de Son label, 2006

Bootstraps: Online Guides to Musicianship, New York State Alliance on the Arts, 2006

To be or Not To Be a 501c(3), New Music Box, 2005