Missy Mazzoli

Missy Mazzoli: Winnipeg New Music Festival

Thank you to our Premier Patron, Michael Nesbitt, whose generosity helped to bring Missy Mazzoli to the WNMF 2024. 



Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times). Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, pianist Emanuel Ax, Opera Philadelphia, Scottish Opera, Opera Comique, LA Opera, Cincinnati Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Sydney Symphony, JACK Quartet, violinist Jennifer Koh, mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, and many others. In 2018 she made history when she became one of the two first women (along with composer Jeanine Tesori) to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. That year she was also nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Classical Composition” for her work Vespers for Violin, recorded by violinist Olivia De Prato.

Highlights of the 2023-24 season include Mazzoli being featured composer at the Winnipeg New Music Festival; the focus of a BBC Total Immersion: a new ballet by choreographer Rob Binet for London’s Royal Ballet; Breaking the Waves at Detroit Opera; Proving Up at Pittsburgh Opera and numerous international performances of her orchestral and chamber repertoire.

Mazzoli has received considerable acclaim for her operatic compositions. Her most recent opera, The Listeners, (commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Norwegian National Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera) was created with longtime collaborator Royce Vavrek and playwright Jordan Tannahill and premiered in September 2022 in Oslo in a production directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. The Listeners is an original story set in our time about our search for community and meaning, and the power of charismatic leaders who exploit these desires. Her third opera, Proving Up (commissioned by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and New York’s Miller Theatre) with libretto by Vavrek, is based on a short story by Karen Russell and offers a surreal and disquieting commentary on the American dream through the story of a 19th century Nebraskan homesteading family. The Washington Post called it “harrowing…powerful…a true opera of our time”. Mazzoli’s second opera, Breaking the Waves, also with Vavrek, was described as “among the best 21st-century operas yet” (Opera News), “savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original” (Wall Street Journal), and “dark and daring” (The New York Times). Earlier projects include the critically acclaimed sold-out premiere of Mazzoli’s first opera, Song from the Uproar, in a Beth Morrison production at New York venue The Kitchen in March 2012. The Wall Street Journal called this work”powerful and new”, and The New York Times claimed that “in the electric surge of Ms. Mazzoli’s score you felt the joy, risk, and limitless potential of free sprits unbound.” In October 2012, Missy’s operatic work, SALT, a re-telling of the story of Lot’s Wife written for cellist Maya Beiser and vocalist Helga Davis, premiered as part of the BAM Next Wave Festival and at UNC Chapel Hill, directed by Robert Woodruff. This work, including text by Erin Cressida-Wilson, was deemed “a dynamic amalgamation that unapologetically pushes boundaries” by Time Out New York.

Mazzoli served as the Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from July 2018 to April 2021. From 2012-2015 she was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera and Music Theatre-Group. She is currently on faculty as Composer in Residence with the Bard College Conservatory of Music and was previously on the faculty of the Mannes College of Music. In 2016, along with composer Ellen Reid Mazzoli founded Luna Composition Lab, an acclaimed mentorship program and support network for female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers ages 13-19.

Recent noteworthy performances include new productions of Breaking the Waves at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Adelaide Festival, Paris’ Opera Comique, Opera St. Gallen, Vadstena Akademien, and Stadttheater Bremerhaven; numerous productions of Proving Up including The Juilliard School, Opera Las Vegas and the Aspen Music Festival; the world premiere of a Orpheus Alive, a new ballet score commissioned and premiered by the National Ballet of Canada, the premiere of Violin Concerto: Procession with soloist Jennifer Koh and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), Cincinnati Symphony and the BBC Proms; the world premiere of Millennium Canticles by Third Coast Percussion; the US premieres of her double bass concerto Dark with Excessive Bright with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the violin version with the Atlanta Symphony;  and performances of her work by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Colorado Symphony and the Opera National Bordeaux, among others. Mazzoli has curated concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony.

Mazzoli is an active TV and film composer and wrote and performed music for the fictional character Thomas Pembridge on the Amazon TV show Mozart in the Jungle. She also contributed music to the documentaries Detropia and Book of Conrad and the film A Woman, A Part.

In 2023 the Arctic Philharmonic released an all-Mazzoli CD on the BIS label, featuring the violin version of Dark With Excessive Bright with soloist Peter Herresthal; the Iceland Symphony released a recording of Sinfonia for Orbiting Spheres; and Third Coast Percussion released the premiere recording Millennium Canticles. In 2022 Deutsche Gramophone released Emily D’Angelo’s debut recording enargeia singing new arrangements of works created by the composer specifically for this recording. Her music has also been released on labels including New Amsterdam, Pentatone, Cedille, Bedroom Community, 4AD and Innova. Artists who have recorded Mazzoli’s music include eighth blackbird, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Roomful of Teeth, violinist Jennifer Koh, violist Nadia Sirota, NOW Ensemble, Newspeak, pianist Kathleen Supové, the Jasper Quartet, and violinist Joshua Bell.

Mazzoli is an active pianist and keyboardist, and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008 dedicated to her own compositions. Their debut full-length CD, Cathedral City, was named one of 2010′s best classical albums by Time Out New YorkNPRThe New Yorker and The New York Times, and was followed by the critically acclaimed Vespers for a New Dark Age, a collaboration with percussionist Glenn Kotche. Vespers was released in 2015 on New Amsterdam Records along with Missy’s own remixes of the work and a remix of her piece A Thousand Tongues by longtime collaborator Lorna Dune. The New York Times called Vespers for a New Dark Age “ravishing and unsettling”, and the album was praised on NPR’s First Listen, All Things Considered and Pitchfork. In the past decade they have played in venues all over the world including Carnegie Hall, the M.A.D.E. Festival in Sweden, the C3 Festival in Berlin and Millennium Park in Chicago. Victoire returned to Carnegie Hall in 2015 as part of the “Meredith Monk and Friends” concert, performing Missy’s arrangements of Monk’s work.

Mazzoli is the recipient of the Musical America 2022 Composer-of-the-Year honor, a 2019 Grammy nomination, the 2017 Music Critics Association of America Inaugural Award for Best Opera, the 2018 Godard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2015 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award, four ASCAP Young Composer Awards, a Fulbright Grant to The Netherlands, the Detroit Symphony’s Elaine Lebenbom Award, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, and the Barlow Endowment. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ucross, VCCA, the Blue Mountain Center and the Hermitage. She and her frequent collaborator Royce Vavrek have received the 2023 Marc Blitzstein Award for Musical Theater and Opera, given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Missy attended the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and Boston University.

Her music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer.