The network of Luna Composition Lab Alumni includes young female-identifying, 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 17) lives in New York City and is a rising senior at the Chapin School. She studies piano, music theory, and composition at the Third Street Music School. Since her participation in Luna Composition Lab’s inaugural year she has continued to study composition with her mentor Reena Esmail. In 2018, Violet was commissioned to write a piece for the ensemble Contemporaneous, and it premiered in March 2019. Violet is an alumna of YASP at the Curtis Institute of Music. In her spare time, Violet enjoys leading an a cappella group and writing pop songs.
SOFIA BELIMOVA (2016-17)
OLIVIA BENNETT (2019-20)
Olivia Bennett (age 18) is an award-winning composer and performer from Springfield, Missouri. Her music has been performed in many festivals and events including the Tanglewood Institute, Mizzou’s Creating Original Music Program, Interlochen Arts Camp, and American Composers Forum’s NextNotes. She was invited to compose for the National Youth Orchestra (as an apprentice composer) and the YoungArts Program (LA). Olivia has studied with Missy Mazzoli, Ellen Reid, Nico Muhly, Kristin Kuster, Jennifer Jolley, Stefan Freund, and her current teacher, Carlyle Sharpe. Her works have been performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra, Tanglewood Young Artists Orchestra, Interlochen Philharmonic, Springfield Youth Symphony, and more. Olivia is currently a first-year student studying composition at Rice University.
CAROLINA BRAGG (2017-18)
Carolina Bragg (age 18) is a cellist and composer from Brookline, Massachusetts. Drawing inspiration from literature and the natural world, Carolina has composed more than fifteen original works, including two professional commissions: one for Friction Quartet as part of their Commissioning Initiative II, and the other a co-commission by A Far Cry and Milton Academy. She is a four-time finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition. Carolina is grateful to her teachers and mentors, who have included Alla Cohen, Reena Esmail, Paola Prestini, and Kristin Kuster. Carolina plays cello in the top ensemble of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.
KIMANI BRIDGES (2019-20)
KiMani Bridges (age 18) is a flutist and composer from Louisville, Kentucky. She has been playing the flute since she was 11 and started composing in 11th grade. She attended the duPont Manual Magnet High School where she took composition and performed in the Symphonic Band and Chamber Ensemble. Her pieces have been performed at the University of Louisville and duPont Manual Magnet High School’s New Works Festival. KiMani was a participant in the Loretto Project’s Pathways Initiative Program, and she was named a NextNotes High School Creator Award Winner of 2020. KiMani is currently in her first year of college, studying composition, at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. KiMani was awarded the G. Schirmer Prize for her work “The Flower” in 2020.
MADELINE CLARA CHENG (2019-20)
Madeline Clara Cheng (age 16) is a Bay Area–based composer, saxophonist, and pianist studying under Dr. Vivian Fung. Her pieces have received top awards and honors from the National Federation of Music Clubs, the American Beethoven Society, the Golden Key Music Festival, Webster University, the Frost School of Music, the University of Illinois, Tribeca New Music, American Composers Forum, the U.S. Open Music Competition, the ASCAP Foundation, and the Music Teachers' Association of California. She was awarded a merit scholarship from the Interlochen Arts Camp, and is an alumna of the Berklee High School Composition Intensive and the Young Women Composers Camp.
TIFFANY CUARESMA (2018-19)
Tiffany Cuaresma (age 19) is a composer and vocalist from San Diego, California. Her music has received recognition from the National YoungArts Foundation, National Young Composers Challenge, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Texas Young Composers Competition. Tiffany is an alumna of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Her works have been performed by internationally-acclaimed guitarists Thu Le, Bokyung Byun, and Steve Cowan, and she has been commissioned by Special Music School Choruses. She was selected for the NYU Summer Screen Scoring Program and has composed and conducted an original opera. She currently studies music composition and business at Rice University. Tiffany is also part of the San Diego Human Trafficking Prevention Committee.
MICHELLE DAVID (2016-17)
Michelle David (age 22) is a Haitian-Peruvian composer who loves to work with timbre, texture, and different styles of music, specifically fusion, Latinx/Caribbean, experimental electronic, ambient, hip-hop, and cinematic music. She currently lives in Queens, NY and is currently completing her senior year at SUNY Geneseo. Michelle is majoring in music composition and recently completed her minor in piano pedagogy. She is looking forward to graduating this upcoming May and working towards applying for a PhD program in music composition. Her recent music collaborations have involved songwriting and production, and she had the joy of working with her family-friends, who are rappers, poets, and directors.
ABBY HARRIS (2018-19)
Abby Harris (age 15) is a New York City-based composer and pianist. She studies composition with Professor Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and separately participates in the American Composers Orchestra composition programming. At thirteen, after achieving recognition in several composition competitions, Abby was selected as a MATA, Jr. Composer. This year, Abby placed second in the junior division of the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers. She was also named northeast regional winner and a national finalist at the NFMC composition competition. Additionally, she was a national finalist at ASCAP Morton Gould, and received a 2020 honorable mention at ACF NextNotes, which described her music as “big, serious, and convincing.”
MAYA MIRO JOHNSON (2017-18)
Maya Miro Johnson (age 19) 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 16) 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 an orchestra finalist at the National Young Composers Challenge in 2019, and the winner of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 2020. 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 18) 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 19) 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 first 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 19) 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 first year of the Columbia-Juilliard Program.
EBUNOLUWA OGUNTOLA (2019-20)
Ebunoluwa Oguntola (age 15) is a composer, violinist, and pianist from Fayetteville, New York. She started music at the age of 3, but it wasn’t until she was 11 when she first started composing, taking independent composition lessons through Syracuse University. In the summer of 2020, Ebun attended the internationally acclaimed Eastman Classical Studies program for composition. She also hosted a virtual concert online in which she musically composed and narrated the unfortunate events of 2020, where she featured Grammy-award winning violinist, Johnny Gandelsman as a soloist of her new work. Ebun enjoys writing different types of pieces, sharing her music and playing with others, and challenging herself within different aspects of music.
K.R. PALKA (2017-18)
K. R. Palka (age 20) is an LA-based composer/performer with works performed and commissioned by ensembles including Fear No Music, Opera Omaha, the Eugene Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Mivos Quartet, Great Noise Ensemble, NYC Chamber Music Co-Op, and Mousai Remix. Palka received a BMI Honorable Mention and Tribeca Emerging Composer honor, and Palka’s song cycle was selected by Calliope’s Call for performances in 2021. Palka has studied with Ryan Francis, Kenji Bunch, and Ellen Reid, and currently attends the USC Thornton School of Music, studying with Andrew Norman, Veronika Krausas, and Ted Hearne.
ALIYA SALMANOVA (2017-18)
Aliya Salmanova (age 20) 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 second year at Mannes, studying with Missy Mazzoli.
SAGE SHURMAN (2019-20)
Sage Shurman (age 15) lives in Pasadena, California and is a sophomore at Flintridge Preparatory School. Sage loves telling stories through her compositions and is often inspired from her alternate life as a nationally ranked soccer player. At age three, Sage began her musical studies on the piano and has won numerous accolades including the honor of playing as a soloist with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic performing Schroeder, Mozart, and Poulenc piano concertos. In 2019, she placed in the American Protege competition and performed at Carnegie Hall. In summer 2020, Sage was scheduled to perform Beethoven's fourth piano concerto at Walt Disney Hall with the LA Youth Philharmonic, but due to COVID-19, she performed virtually.