Composer in Residence
Primary Academic Program: Music
Academic Program Affiliation(s): Bard Conservatory of Music: Composition, Music
Biography:The New York Times hailed Missy Mazzoli, a Grammy-nominated composer and musician, as “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York.” Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, pianist Emanuel Ax, Opera Philadelphia, Scottish Opera, Cincinnati Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Kathleen Supové, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and many others. In 2018 she became one of the two first women (along with 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 Olivia De Prato. Her third opera, Proving Up, written with longtime collaborator Royce Vavrek, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha, and New York’s Miller Theatre. Based on a short story by Karen Russell, Proving Up offers a surreal and disquieting commentary on the American dream through the story of a Nebraska family homesteading in the late 19th century. It premiered to critical acclaim in January 2018 at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, in April 2018 at Opera Omaha, and in September 2018 at Miller Theatre. The Washington Post called it “harrowing . . . powerful . . . a true opera of our time.” Her second opera, Breaking the Waves, also with librettist Vavrek, was described as “among the best 21st-century operas yet” by Opera News. Mazzoli is an active TV and film composer; she wrote and performed music for the fictional character Thomas Pembridge on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. She also contributed music to the documentaries Detropia and Book of Conrad, and the film A Woman, A Part. Her music has been recorded and released on labels including New Amsterdam, Cedille, Bedroom Community, 4AD, and Innova.
Additional honors for Mazzoli include the 2017 Music Critics Association of America Inaugural Award for Best Opera, Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 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, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Blue Mountain Center, and the Hermitage. Mazzoli is also an active pianist and keyboardist who often performs with Victoire, a chamber-rock quintet she founded in 2008. Their debut CD, Cathedral City, was named one of 2010’s best classical albums by the New Yorker, New York Times, Time Out New York, and NPR.
Mazzoli has served as Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Music-Theatre Group; and Composer/Educator-in-Residence with the Albany Symphony. She was a visiting professor of music at New York University and member of the composition faculty at the Mannes School of Music. She is on the Artistic Advisory Board of the MATA Festival in New York and, in 2016, along with composer Ellen Reid and in collaboration with the Kaufman Music Center, founded Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program and support network for female-identifying, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming composers ages 12 to 18.
BA, Boston University College of Fine Arts; MM, Yale School of Music; additional studies, Royal Conservatory of the Hague. At Bard: 2022–24.