The network of Luna Composition Lab Mentors is extensive, with over 15 acclaimed female, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers who have provided mentorship across our five seasons. Our Mentors are the recipients of numerous accolades and awards including Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, Fulbright Fellowships and many more. Many are professors in prestigious composition departments around the country, and all have advanced the field in significant ways. In addition to the yearlong Mentors who are paired with Fellows, Luna Composition Lab awards five Honorable Mentions each year, who receive a lesson and meeting with a professional composer.
Valerie Coleman is a Grammy nominated flutist and composer and is Performance Today’s “2020 Classical Woman of the Year”. Her visionary mind is responsible for the creation of Imani Winds, its chamber music festival, and a wealth of repertoire that has become a cornerstone legacy within American chamber music. A native of Louisville, Valerie is an alumna of Concert Artists Guild, CMS Lincoln Center Two fellowship, is listed as “one of the Top 35 Women Composers” by the Washington Post and is the first African-American woman to be commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Composer Kristin Kuster “writes commandingly for the orchestra,” and her music “has an invitingly tart edge” (The New York Times). Her colorfully enthralling, lush and visceral compositions take inspiration from architectural space, the weather, and mythology. Her orchestral music “unquestionably demonstrates her expertise in crafting unique timbres” (Steve Smith, Night After Night). Kristin is based in Ann Arbor, where she is an associate professor and chair of composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. When she is not writing or teaching you can often find Kristin fiercely advocating for the marginalized and underrepresented groups of composers in our classical music culture, hanging out with her son with special needs, or on her deck with locally-brewed Sweetwaters and/or Comet coffee. Kristin loves camping, hiking, kayaking, and riding her mountain bike around town.
Tamar Muskal studied composition and viola at the Jerusalem Academy for Dance and Music (Israel), Yale University, and CUNY. She is mentioned in Anthony Tommasini’s 10 Best Classical Music Events of 2014. Recent and future commissions include two percussion concertos for Steve Schick along with interactive art by Daniel Rozin for the La Jolla Music Festival and the ACO, a flute concerto, strings and percussion for Abigail Dolan and the Symphonova, a piece for a rapper, rhythm vocalist, chamber ensemble and girls youth chorus for Close Encounter With Music and a piece for clarinet, string quartet and drum set for Jo-Ann Sternberg. Tamar has received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Academy of Arts and Letters, Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum, and ASCAP, among others.
Hailed by The New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Gity Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to opera and large symphonic works. Gity’s music has been commissioned and performed by Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, National Sawdust, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Canada’s National Ballet School, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra among many others. Her compositions have earned numerous awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jerome Foundation, the International Search for New Music Competition, and ASCAP, to name a few. Gity attended The Juilliard School on full scholarship, and received her Bachelor and Master of Music in Composition under the tutelage of John Corigliano, Samuel Adler, and Robert Beaser.
Ellen Reid is one of the most innovative artists of her generation. A composer and sound artist whose breadth of work spans opera, sound design, film scoring, ensemble and choral writing, she was awarded the the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera, p r i s m. Reid is the first composer to have been commissioned by all of Los Angeles's four major classical music institutions: Los Angeles Opera at REDCAT, Los Angeles Philharmonic, L.A. Master Chorale and L.A. Chamber Orchestra. Ellen received her BFA from Columbia University and her MA from California Institute of the Arts.
A sound can evoke a time, a place, or a way of looking at the world. Alex Temple writes music that distorts and combines iconic sounds to create new meanings, often in service of surreal, cryptic or fantastical narratives. In addition to performing her own works for voice and electronics, she has collaborated with performers and ensembles such as Mellissa Hughes, Julia Holter, wild Up, Spektral Quartet and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2017 she completed a DMA at Northwestern University, and she is now an Assistant Professor of Composition at Arizona State University.
REENA ESMAIL (2016-2020)
Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail holds degrees from The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music, and has written for Kronos Quartet, Albany Symphony and Conspirare. A resident of Los Angeles, Esmail is the 20-23 Swan Family Artist in Residence with Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the 20-21 Composer in Residence with Seattle Symphony. She is the Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting musical traditions of India and the West.
MISSY MAZZOLI (2016-2017)
Recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out NY), Missy Mazzoli has had her music performed by the Kronos Quartet, LA Opera, eighth blackbird, the BBC Symphony, Scottish Opera and many others. In 2018 she became one of the first two women, along with Jeanine Tesori, to receive a main stage commission from the Metropolitan Opera, and was nominated for a Grammy award. She is Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and from 2012-2015 was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia. Upcoming commissions include works for Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Lyric Opera and the Norwegian National Opera. Missy teaches at the Mannes School of Music and her works are published by G. Schirmer.
HONORABLE MENTION MENTORS
AMELIA BREY (2019-2020)
Amelia Brey’s music has been described as possessing “haunting beauty” and “a deep, disquieting power” (National Sawdust Log). Her accomplishments include premieres by Ensemble Dal Niente, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and members of Ensemble Intercontemporain and the New York Philharmonic, as well as commissions from Musical Mentors Collaborative, HUP! Productions, and Project eGALitarian. Brey serves as the Composition Coordinator for zFestival, a virtual new music workshop for composers, performers, and audio engineers. Hailing from Tallahassee, Florida, Brey is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a current doctoral candidate at the Juilliard School.
COURTNEY BRYAN (2018-2019; 2020-2021)
Courtney Bryan is a composer and pianist and the Albert and Linda Mintz Professor of Music at Newcomb College in the School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University. She holds a DMA in Composition from Columbia University. Bryan’s award-winning music draws on jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. She was the 2018 music recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2019-20 recipient of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Music Composition, and is currently a recipient of a 2020-21 Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, and a 2020 United States Artists Fellow.
SARAH HENNIES (2020-2021)
Sarah Hennies is a composer based in upstate New York whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, love, intimacy, psychoacoustics, and percussion. She is primarily a composer of small chamber works, but is also active in improvisation, film, performance art, and dance. She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award and 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Sarah is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Bard College.
JENNIFER HIGDON (2020-2021)
Jennifer Higdon makes her living from commissions and has had the distinct honor of working with some extraordinary performers in many genres (chamber, orchestral, band, and opera). She is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and is a three-time Grammy winner, and has pieces recorded on over 80 recordings. Her work, “Blue Cathedral”, is the most- performed orchestral work of the 21st Century, with over 700 performances. She also runs her own publishing company and teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
LAURA KAMINSKY (2018-2019)
Cited by The Washington Post as “one of the top 35 female composers in classical music,” Laura Kaminsky’s works are “full of fire as well as ice, contrasting dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff.” (American Record Guide). "Hometown to the World" (librettist Kimberly Reed; Santa Fe Opera) and "Finding Wright" (librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg; Dayton Opera) premiere in 2021. 2019-20 Composer Mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative, Kaminsky teaches composition at Purchase College Conservatory of Music /SUNY. Scores: Bill Holab Music. Recordings: Albany, Bridge, BSS, Cedille, CRI, Capstone, Mode, MSR.
LAURA KARPMAN (2018-2019)
Four-time Emmy winning composer Laura Karpman brings a unique and conceptual voice to her significant body of work spanning film, television, and video games. In film, she is known for her scores to Miss Virginia which stars Uzo Aduba, the Netflix rom-com Set It Up, Sony’s Paris Can Wait, Lionsgate’s The Cotton Club Encore, Fox Searchlight’s Step and Black Nativity, as well as the animated shorts Sitara and Walk Run Cha-Cha. For television, Karpman most recently scored the HBO series Lovecraft Country and the Discovery’s docu-series Why We Hate, for which she earned two Emmy nominations. Her other television credits include WGN America’s award-winning series Underground, the PBS’ Peabody award-winning series Craft in America, and Showtime’s Sid and Judy.
VERONIKA KRAUSAS (2019-2020)
Of Lithuanian heritage, composer Veronika Krausas was born in Australia raised in Canada, and lives in Los Angeles. She has directed, composed for, and produced multi-media events that incorporate her works with dance, acrobatics, puppets, and video. Krausas has music composition degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill University in Montreal, and a doctorate from the Thornton School of Music at USC in Los Angeles, where she is a faculty member in the Composition Department. She is a pre-concert lecturer and interviewer at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and serves on the advisory boards of Jacaranda Music and People Inside Electronics.
YAZ LANCASTER (2020-2021)
Yaz Lancaster (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist interested in practices aligned with relational aesthetics and the everyday, fragments and collage, and in modes of genuine support for marginalized identities. They perform as a violinist, steel pannist, and vocalist in a wide variety of settings from DIY to orchestras, and they present work in many different mediums and collaborative projects. They’ve had the opportunity to work with friends like Apply Triangle, Hypercube, JACK Quartet, and Skiffle Steel Orchestra. Yaz holds degrees in violin performance and poetry from New York University. They love horror movies, chess, and bubble tea.
NEBAL MAYSAUD (2020-2021)
Nebal Maysaud is an award-winning queer Lebanese Druze composer based in the Washington D.C. area. A recipient of the first Kluge Young Composer’s Competition and the James Ming Prize in Composition at Lawrence University, Maysaud converges Western and Middle Eastern classical music styles to explore questions of faith, identity, and power. Their music has been performed by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and Lawrence University Wind Ensemble and Opera Department; and also featured in Art Song Lab 2016 and the District New Music Conference 2018. They have contributed articles about diversity and classical music to NewMusicBox and convened community music workshops at YallaPunk 2019.
JESSIE MONTGOMERY (2019-2020)
Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).
CAROLINE SHAW (2019-2020)
Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for "Partita for 8 Voices," written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth. Upcoming releases include two albums with Sō Percussion (joined y Dawn Upshaw and Gil Kalish), and a second album with the Attacca Quartet following their 2019 Grammy-winning record Orange. Caroline loves the collor yellow, otters, Beethoven opus 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.
JEANINE TESORI (2020-2021)
Jeanine Tesori has written a diverse catalog for Broadway, opera, film and television. Along with Missy Mazzoli, Tesori is one of the first female composers commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Her musicals include: Fun Home (Tony Award, Pulitzer finalist); Soft Power (Pulitzer finalist); Caroline, or Change (Olivier Award); Violet; Shrek; Thoroughly Modern Millie; Twelfth Night; A Free Man of Color; Mother Courage (starring Meryl Streep). Her Operas include: Blue (Libretto, Tazewell Thompson); A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (Tony Kushner); The Lion, The Unicorn and Me (J.D. McClatchy); and the upcoming Grounded (George Brant). She is the founding artistic director of New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center Series; the founding creative director of A BroaderWay, an arts empowerment program for young women; and a lecturer at Yale University.
DU YUN (2018-2019)
DU YUN, born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York City, works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theatre, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Her body of work is championed by some of today’s finest performing groups and organizations around the world. Known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience” (The New Yorker), Du Yun’s second opera, Angel’s Bone, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize; in 2018 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow; and in 2019, she was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Classical Composition. As an avid performer and bandleader (Ok Miss), her onstage persona has been described by the New York Times as “an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge.”