The network of Luna Composition Lab Alumni includes young female, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers from all across the United States. Alumni have attended prestigious institutions such as The Curtis Institute of Music, The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Rice University, Mannes School of Music, and The University of Southern California. Alumni have received commissions from The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, loadbang, Opera Omaha, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Special Music School Chorus, the American Composers Orchestra, and violinist Johnny Gandelsman. Additionally, alumni have been invited to collaborations with the Nashville Symphony and the Britt Festival.
VIOLET BARNUM (2016-17)
Violet Barnum (age 19) is a composer, pianist, and songwriter from New York City. She took music lessons at the Third Street Music School until graduating high school in 2021. After her participation in Luna Lab’s inaugural year, she continued to study with her mentor Reena Esmail for the next four years. In 2018, Violet had a piece commissioned by the New York-based contemporary music ensemble Contemporaneous which premiered in March 2019. Violet is an alumna of the Young Artist Summer Program at the Curtis Institute of music and also of the Summer Songwriters Workshop at NYU. In her senior year of high school, Violet pursued an individual study in which she looked at the intersection of music and math and composed an orchestra piece. Violet is an incoming freshman at Yale University and plans to major in music. Her other musical interests include making a cappella arrangements and playing the guitar.
SOFIA BELIMOVA (2016-17)
OLIVIA BENNETT (2019-20)
Olivia Bennett (age 20) is a sophmore at Rice University studying with Pierre Jalbert. She began composing at the age of eight and has since then taken part in opportunities such as the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Interlochen Arts Camp, the American Composers Forum’s NextNotes, and many others. She has recently won honorable mention in the BMI Student Composer Awards and was commissioned by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Olivia is currently working on a piece commissioned by the Citadelle Art Foundation to be premiered in the fall.
CAROLINA BRAGG (2017-18)
Carolina Bragg (age 19) finds inspiration in the strangest of places, from epic poetry to tropical birds. Her works have been performed in San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, and New York. Recent works include her first professional commission from the Friction Quartet. Inspired by the birds-of-paradise species, Carolina wrote “bird of paradise,” which had its radio premiere on NPR’s From the Top. Other commissions include a co-commission from her high school and A Far Cry. Carolina is grateful to her mentors, who have included Paola Prestini, Alla Cohen, and Reena Esmail. An avid cellist, Carolina studies with Eugene Kim and volunteers as a teacher for Bravo Waukegan: Raise the Bar.
KIMANI BRIDGES (2019-20)
KiMani Bridges (age 19) is a composer and flutist from Louisville, Kentucky. She has been playing the flute since she was 11 and started composing in the 11th grade. Since then, she has been commissioned, performed, and premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Symphony Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, and many others. Bridges has performed at venues including Auer Hall at Indiana University, Bird Hall at the University of Louisville, and the Kentucky Center for the Arts. In addition, KiMani has participated in bespoken, Loretto Project's Pathways Initiative Program, the Wildflower Composers Festival, and was named a NextNotes High School Creator Award Winner of 2020 by the American Composers Forum. KiMani currently attends the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and is pursuing a B.M. in composition and in flute performance under P.Q. Phan, Don Freund, and Thomas Robertello. KiMani was awarded the G. Schirmer Prize for her work “The Flower” in 2020.
MADELINE CLARA CHENG (2019-20)
Madeline Clara Cheng (age 18) is a San Francisco Bay Area-based composer, saxophonist, and pianist. She is the winner of the 2020 National Federation of Music Clubs Junior Composers Contest, the two-time winner of the Illinois Young Composer Contest, and a 2021 ICEBERG New Music Young Composer Scholarship Award recipient. Her works have also received top awards and honors from the Golden Key Music Festival, Robert Avalon International Composition, Webster University, and the Frost School of Music. In the summer of 2021, she received a full merit scholarship to attend the Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Composition Program.
TIFFANY CUARESMA (2018-19)
Tiffany Cuaresma (age 20) is a composer and vocalist captivated by music’s powerful ability to resonate with others. Her music has received awards from the National YoungArts Foundation, National Young Composers Challenge, Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Texas Young Composers Competition, and the Emerging Young Composers Competition. Tiffany is also a Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Composition Program alumna and the Luna Composition Lab James Rosenfield Fellowship Recipient. Her music has received international recognition from the Guitar Salon International and performances from internationally-acclaimed artists such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Thue Le, Bo Bokyung, Steve Cowan, and Jon Nakamatsu. In addition to concert music, Cuaresma enjoys film scoring and multi-disciplinary projects. She has scored several films including a film that will be premiered at the 2021 Burbank International Film Festival. Currently, Tiffany is pursuing a B.M. in music theory composition and studying business at Rice University and is originally from San Diego.
MICHELLE DAVID (2016-17)
Michelle David (age 23) is a Haitian-Peruvian composer who loves to experiment with timbre, texture, and different styles of music, specifically fusion, latin, caribbean, jazz, experimental electronic, ambient, hip-hop, and cinematic music. She currently lives in Queens, NY and is currently completing her last year at SUNY Geneseo. She’s majoring in music composition and she recently completed her minor in Piano Pedagogy, which has led her to teach private piano lessons during the summer. She is looking forward to graduating in May 2022 and working towards applying for grad school. She is planning to study music composition with a focus in film music and music education. Her recent music collaborations have involved songwriting and music production. She's had the joy of working with her family-friends, who are rappers, poets, and film directors.
JACK GJAJA (2020-21)
Jack Gjaja (age 16) is a composer and pianist from New York City. They currently study piano and composition at Manhattan School of Music Precollege and previously studied at the Preparatory Division of Mannes School of Music. Their works range from acoustic pieces for small chamber ensembles, vocal and solo instrument pieces, period instruments to electronic soundscapes and using the tie-dye delay pedal effect on most of their electronic pieces. They've studied composition and piano with the following wonderful people: Mary Kouyoumdjian, David Bird, Tamar Muskal, Elena Leonova, Adrienne Kim. They've performed in Montreal, Rovinj, Cremona, Bennington and New York.
ABBY HARRIS (2018-19)
Abby Harris (age 16) is a New York City-based composer and pianist. She studies composition with Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Her compositions have earned notice from the NFMC (New York and Northeast Regional winner this year, and a three time national finalist), Music Teachers Gifts Youth Composition Competition (first prize in her division this year), MATA, Jr., Carol Klose/Hal Leonard Composition Competition, and the Robert Avalon International Composition for Composers. She has attended the Young Women Composers Camp, and for the past four years, has been a student of Kevin James in the ACO composition program.
ALISHA HENG (2020-21)
Alisha Heng (age 19) is a clarinetist, composer, and multidisciplinary artist from New York City. Her works have been performed by various ensembles and performers, such as Ensemble Lemniscate, baritone Christopher Herbert, and violinist Barbora Kolářová. Her passion for composition stems from both her instrumental study and a fascination to create works that provoke the mind—seeking to explore the relationships between music, art, and literature. She attended the Curtis Young Artist Summer program in the summer of 2020. Outside of music, Alisha is an avid filmmaker and writer. Alisha currently studies composition at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins.
MAYA MIRO JOHNSON (2017-18)
Maya Miro Johnson (age 20) is a conductor, composer, violinist, and interdisciplinary artist who considers her work philosophy not constrained to logic and reason. She focuses on questioning: exorcising hereditary ghosts, corroding capitalism’s continuum, affirming value in the quotidian, and manipulating the familiar | strange duality. Winner of both Surinach and Schuman Prizes in the 2020 BMI Awards, Maya has been commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sarasota Festival & Jeffrey Kahane, pianist Inna Faliks, violinist Johnny Gandelsman, and loadbang. Summers have included Aspen (2021), Cabrillo, BUTI, & NYO-USA. She studies at the Curtis Institute and with Sarrah Bushara forms the duo ~.
YURI LEE (2018-19)
Yuri Lee (age 17) is a composer and violinist from New York. She studied composition with Daniel Felsenfeld and violin with Lucie Gelinas at The Juilliard School Music Advancement Program from 2016-2020. She now studies composition with Manuel Sosa through the Juilliard Pre-College program. Yuri was the winner of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 2020, a national finalist and career encouragement certificate recipient in The American Prize in Composition in 2021, an orchestra finalist and an ensemble winner of the National Young Composers Challenge in 2019 and 2021 respectively, and a merit winner of the National YoungArts competition in 2022. To achieve her life goal of making people happy with music, Yuri founded “Music Around Us Project,” where she organizes concerts with young musicians for seniors in an assisted living facility and young children in the community.
HELEN LYONS (2017-18)
Helen Lyons (age 19) is a senior at Hunter College High School in New York City. She is a pianist and violinist who writes for ensembles of all sizes, with a special passion for writing for orchestra. Helen is a four-time ASCAP Morton Gould finalist. She was named one of two High School Winners of the 2018 National Association for Music Education (NAfME)’s Student Composers Competition for a piano trio performed at the Tate Ballroom in Dallas, TX. She was also a Winner of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) 2019 Student Composers Competition, and was selected to have an orchestral work performed at the annual conference in Rochester, NY.
JOANNA MCDONALD (2018-19)
Joanna McDonald (age 20) is a composer, guitarist, and pianist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who loves her local music community. She first started writing lyrics at age six and by age twelve was writing full songs with melodies and chord progressions. She has won several awards at the University of Tulsa's annual Béla Rózsa composition competition since entering her first piece, for solo guitar, at age 15. Joanna has presented her music at The University of Oklahoma's collegiate Composer's Workshop and has attended Curtis Summerfest and The University of Tulsa Composition Seminar. Joanna is currently in her second year of college at Rice University and intends to major in composition. Joanna was awarded the G. Schirmer Prize for her work “Peace” in 2019.
JANE MEENAGHAN (2018-19)
Jane Meenaghan (age 21) is a sound artist, composer, and cellist from Los Angeles who frequently seeks to synthesize, recontextualize, and dichotomize diverse aesthetics in hybrid electroacoustic soundscapes. Her works embrace the dimensionality of sound and theatricality of performance to deliver visceral, multisensory experiences. She has received top honors from ASCAP, BMI, National YoungArts, and others, and she has worked with ensembles including Los Angeles Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra. Jane is currently in her second year of the Columbia-Juilliard Program.
JORDAN MILLAR (2020-21)
Jordan Millar (age 15) is a composer from Brooklyn, NY. She began composing at 9 in the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers Program. At 10 her piece was featured at the Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert with composer John Adams. Her piece “Boogie Down Uptown” was performed at several Philharmonic concert series and profiled in The New York Times. In 2019 she received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award and worked with New World Symphony to debut “The Abandoned Castle.” In 2020 she wrote an arrangement of “We Shall Overcome” for the Philharmonic. As a 2020-2021 Luna Composition Lab Fellow, her piece “Masquerade” was performed by Face the Music at Luna Lab Solar Flare. She is now working with Chromic Duo, AndPlay Duo and The Argus Quartet. Jordan is a speaker and has given a Ted Talk on composing.
EBUNOLUWA OGUNTOLA (2019-20)
Ebun Oguntola (age 16) is a composer, conductor, violinist, and pianist. She was recently featured on From the Top as a composer, where she was interviewed by Kevin Olusola from Pentatonix, on NPR radio. Through Luna Lab, her music was performed in the Bergen International Festival in Norway by Bit20 Ensemble. Additionally, Ebun attended the internationally acclaimed Eastman Classical Studies Program with a merit-based scholarship for composition and conducting. During quarantine, Ebun created a virtual concert musically narrating the unfortunate events of 2020, featuring Grammy-award winning violinist, Johnny Gandelsman, garnering more than 1,400 views.
CALEB PALKA (2017-18)
Caleb Palka (age 21) is a composer/performer known as “an eloquent thinker and creator” (PSU Vanguard) whose work is “inquisitive and creative in an unapologetic way” (Oregon ArtsWatch). He has been performed/commissioned by Fear No Music, International Contemporary Ensemble, Opera Omaha, Calliope’s Call, Eugene Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Mivos Quartet, Great Noise Ensemble, Mousai Remix, Portland Piano International, and others. He received a BMI Honorable Mention and Tribeca Emerging Composer honor. He studied with Ryan Francis, Kenji Bunch, and Ellen Reid, and attends the USC Thornton School of Music, studying with Andrew Norman, Veronika Krausas, and Ted Hearne.
ZOLA SAADI-KLEIN (2020-21)
Zola Saadi-Klein (age 19) is a composer, vocalist and violinist from Los Angeles. they received the 2020 ASCAP Foundation Irving Berlin Scholarship Award. From 2019-2021, they were a Fellow in the LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program under the mentorship of Andrew Norman, Sarah Gibson, and Thomas Kotcheff. They also attended the 2021 Walden Young Musicians Program at the Dublin School in NH. In the fall of 2021, they will be studying composition with Jessie Jones and vocal performance with Timothy LeFebvre at Oberlin Conservatory. For inspiration, they enjoy hiking and painting watercolor abstractions.
ALIYA SALMANOVA (2017-18)
Aliya Salmanova (age 21) is a young Azerbaijani-American pianist and composer living in New York City. She was a chosen participant for Opera Omaha Music and Poetry Workshop 2019. She was also a member of the X QABALA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL 2018 and has performed at many concert halls in Baku, Azerbaijan. Now she is interested in writing music for film and is happy to start attending NYU Steinhardt for Screen Scoring. Here she will continue to pursue her undergraduate degree as she recently finished her third year at Mannes, studying with Missy Mazzoli.
SAGE SHURMAN (2019-20)
Sage Shurman (age 16) is a composer and pianist from Los Angeles. She loves telling stories through her compositions and has composed many orchestral and chamber works as well as several scores for short animations. Sage is a fellow in the LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program where she studies with Andrew Norman, Sarah Gibson, and Thomas Kotcheff. In the 2020-21 semester, she composed many works including a string orchestra piece which was recorded by the LA Phil String Orchestra. This summer she participated in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Composition Program where she had the wonderful opportunity to write a piano trio for Triple Helix.
AZALEA TWINING (2020-21)
Azalea Twining (16) is a composer, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter from Harrisonburg, VA. She has studied voice with Eileen Clark since 2014, and composition with her Luna Lab mentor, Ellen Reid, and Gity Razaz. Azalea’s recent compositions include “Echo” for solo flute commissioned for Intersection, and various pieces for voice and small ensemble performed through her schools’s Fine Arts Academy. She is currently working on creating a dance opera with her family and a song cycle set to the poetry of the Brontë sisters. Azalea is also a recent alumn of the WNO Opera Institute and Eastman Summer Classical Studies programs as a vocalist. Azalea was awarded the G. Schirmer Prize for her work “Under Her Voices” in 2021.
MARINA ZURITA-MCKINNON (2020-21)
Marina Zurita McKinnon (age 17) is a guitarist, pianist, and composer from New York City. She attends Special Music School High School where she is a Composition major. Marina has been playing classical guitar since she was 5 years old, adding piano at age 6, and composing at age 9. She has studied composition with Murat Çolak, Robinson McClellan, and Molly Joyce, as well as at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee High School Composition Intensive. Marina’s work has been performed by Momenta Quartet and The Curiosity Cabinet, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Face the Music. She has collaborated with pianist Conrad Tao and contributed to “Ethereal” on Nathalie Joachim’s album, “Transformations.” She is currently working on a commission for the contemporary music ensemble Intersection as a part of their project LISTEN.
Toulmin Luna Composition Lab Alumni Fund
The network of Luna Composition Lab Alumni extends all across the United States. The Toulmin Luna Composition Lab Alumni Fund, which is open to all former Fellows, will provide critical funds to cover costs related to music composition endeavors including application fees, travel fees, equipment and software expenses and tuition at summer festivals. The new Fund is intended to break down financial barriers that may impede Fellows’ continued professional and artistic growth and highlight the impressive work of Luna Lab graduates.