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Program Overview

Female-identifying, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers continue to make up the small minority of professional composers who are consistently performed, recorded and celebrated. We experience a lack of role models and a lack of encouragement to compose at an early age. To address this gender imbalance, Luna Composition Lab provides aspiring young female-identifying, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers (ages 12-18) with a year of one-on-one mentorship, performance opportunities, and high-quality recordings of their work. 


Each year, five Fellows are selected from across the country and paired with acclaimed female-identifying, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers who act as individual Mentors. Fellows work with Mentors via biweekly lessons on online platforms to create a new work that will premiere in New York City. In the fall, Mentors guide the Fellows through the early stages of exploring a new sonic landscape that will develop into a piece, including sketches, conversations, directed listening, and score study. Over the winter, lessons shift to prioritize the Fellow’s new composition. During this time Fellows hear the sketches of their work realized through a series of workshops with NYC’s finest young musicians, who hail from Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music teen new music program and Special Music School High School along with Juilliard Pre-College, Mannes Prep at The New School’s Open Campus and the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College.


Above left: 2019-20 Fellows participate in a masterclass with Caroline Shaw & Nathalie Joachim via Zoom
Above right: 2017-18 Fellow Carolina Bragg performs

The season culminates in a weeklong festival in New York City, which includes the world premiere performance of the Fellows’ work in addition to attending performances, masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours, concerts, and networking events. Previous seasons have included masterclasses with composers Du Yun, Julia Wolfe, Sarah Hennies, Caroline Shaw, and Nathalie Joachim, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, violinist Jennifer Koh and harpist Ashley Jackson; meetings with soprano Renée Fleming, Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, members of yMusic and the International Contemporary Ensemble; and workshops with leaders in the arts from G. Schirmer, Inc, National Sawdust, The Kennedy Center and more. Luna Lab has garnered attention from the New York Times, The New Yorker, Musical America, The Huffington Post, I Care If You Listen and NY1 News.

2018-19 Fellows participate in masterclasses with Toyin Spellman-Diaz (above left) & Jennifer Koh (above right)


Now in its fifth season, Luna Composition Lab is a platform for a successful and well-balanced career in the arts. Following their mentorship year, Fellows enter an ever-expanding network of alumni across the country. Alumni have attended composition programs at Rice University, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the University of Southern California, Mannes School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music, and have been commissioned to compose for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Opera Omaha, the Louisville Symphony, and more. Learn more about our Alumni.

Luna Lab Alumni meet up at Rice University during college auditions


Contemporaneous Ensemble 
G. Schirmer, Inc.  
International Contemporary Ensemble  
The Juilliard School Pre-College 
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra  
The Metropolitan Opera  
Mannes Prep at The New School’s Open Campus  
Manhattan School of Music Pre-College 
National Sawdust  
New Amsterdam Records 
New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers Program 


Tuition covers a small part of the total cost per Fellow to run Luna Lab, and remaining costs are covered by our generous funders. Luna Composition Lab is made possible, in part, by the Augustine Foundation, Janet Bragg, Cheswatyr Foundation, Dinah Jacobs, The Patrina Foundation, James R. Rosenfield, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Bradley A. Vernatter, and The Wise Family Charitable Foundation.

2016-17 Fellows met with generous funders after the final performance

Luna Lab recognizes that we live in a society characterized by a complex web of inequities – racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism among them. All of these forms of discrimination are intolerable, and we acknowledge the many ways they contribute to inequality. Luna Lab has determined that we must focus our efforts to heighten our effectiveness and therefore our current priority is providing an opportunity for applicants who self-identify as female, non-binary or gender non-conforming. (Thank you, Grantmakers In the Arts.