2021 Composers

Juri Seo

Juri Seo

Juri Seo* is a Korean-American composer and pianist based in Princeton, New Jersey.

She seeks to write music that encompasses extreme contrast through compositions that are unified and fluid, yet complex. She merges many of the fascinating aspects of music from the past century—in particular its expanded timbral palette and unorthodox approach to structure—with a deep love of functional tonality, counterpoint, and classical form. With its fast-changing tempi and dynamics, her music explores the serious and the humorous, the lyrical and the violent, the tranquil and the obsessive. She hopes to create music that loves, that makes a positive change in the world—however small—through the people who are willing to listen.

Her composition honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship and the Andrew Imbrie Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship, Copland House Residency Award, and the Otto Eckstein Fellowship from Tanglewood. She has received commissions from the Fromm Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Her portrait albums “Mostly Piano” and “Respiri” were released by Innova Recordings. She holds a D.M.A (Dissertation: Jonathan Harvey’s String Quartets, 2013) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she studied with Reynold Tharp. She has also attended the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome, corsi di perfezionamento with Ivan Fedele) and Yonsei University (Seoul, B.M.). She has been a composition fellow at the Tanglewood, Bang on a Can, and SoundSCAPE festivals, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She is Associate Professor of Music at Princeton University. Please visit www.juriseomusic.com for more information.

*In North America, the name is pronounced [Jew-ri Suh].

Nicolas Lell Benavides

Nicolas Lell Benavides

Nicolas Lell Benavides’ (Ben-ah-VEE-des) music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS). 

He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, and Nomad Session. He was a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nick was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at The Glimmerglass Festival.

He premiered a new opera for Washington National Opera called Pepito with librettist Marella Martin Koch. He and Marella will premiere a new opera, Tres Minutos, with Music of Remembrance in 2022 with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Nick and Marella were selected as one of West Edge Opera’s Aperture opera teams and are developing an opera about civil rights icon Dolores Huerta.

Upcoming premieres include a new dance piece called On Trac|< for The Glimmerglass Festival in collaboration with dancer Amanda Castro, a new work for Khemia Ensemble, La Luz (viola/electronics) for Calvin Green, Los Cuates (two violins) for Lucia Lin and Shaw Pong Liu as part of the In Tandem series, and a new chamber orchestra work for Gabriela Lena Frank’s Composing Earth initiative with support from New Music USA.

Nick has studied at Santa Clara University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. www.nickbenavides.com

Quinn Mason

Quinn Mason​

Quinn Mason is a composer and conductor based in Dallas, TX. Quinn has been described as “a brilliant composer just barely in his 20s who seems to make waves wherever he goes.” 

Quinn writes music for professional and collegiate orchestras, bands and chamber ensembles. His symphonic music has been performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Mission Chamber Orchestra, New England Conservatory Philharmonia, New Texas Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Seattle, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. His compositions for winds have been performed by many ensembles, including the Cobb Wind Symphony, Metropolitan Winds, and bands of Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Purdue University, and Seattle Pacific University. His chamber music has been performed by the American Composer’s Forum, Voices of Change, Loadbang, Atlantic Brass Quintet, MAKE trio, UT Arlington Saxophone Quartet, and the Cézanne, Julius, and Baumer quartets.

Quinn has received numerous awards from such organizations as The American Composer’s Forum, Voices of Change, Texas A&M University, the Dallas Foundation, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, the Heartland Symphony Orchestra, and the Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming world premieres include his Symphony in C Major with the Heartland Symphony Orchestra and his Symphony No. 4 “Strange Time” by the Meadows Wind Ensemble. Quinn has studied with Dr. Lane Harder at the SMU Meadows School of the Arts and has also worked with renowned composers David Maslanka, Libby Larsen, David Dzubay and Robert X. Rodriguez.

As a conductor, Quinn has led Orchestra Seattle, the Brevard Sinfonia, and the Texas Christian University Symphony Orchestra in concert. Quinn has served as Apprentice Conductor of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the New Texas Symphony Orchestra. Quinn has studied conducting with Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), Dr. Germán Gutiérrez (TCU), Will White (Orchestra Seattle), and Jack Delaney and Paul Phillips (SMU). He has conducted world premieres of his own works as well as several world premieres written by his composer colleagues.

An avid and passionate writer, Quinn maintains his own classical music blog and contributes guest articles to other blogs, such as the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. Quinn is a member of ASCAP and the Conductor’s Guild. www.masonianmusic.com

Polina Nazaykinskaya


The music of an award-winning composer Polina Nazaykinskaya has become a staple of orchestral, chamber and solo repertory in the United States, Russia, and Europe.

Her first symphonic poem “Winter Bells” is in high demand every season by orchestras such as the Minnesota Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra among others. Her latest symphonic poem “Fenix”, premiered by the Albany Symphony is programmed for multiple performances in the 2021-2022 concert season. This season Polina`s music will be performed by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Salina Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and Portland Youth Philharmonic. In October 2021, Polina`s ballet “Reverse Perspective” was performed at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the Jaani Kirik in Saint-Petersburg. In March 2022, the San-Francisco ballet premiered a new piece based on Polina`s composition “The Rising”, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. In Spring 2022, MorDance premiered Polina`s new ballet “Encounters” at Symphony Space in New York City.

Polina’s collaborators include internationally renowned choreographers Pascal Rioult, Jonah Bokaer, and Ulyana Bochernikova. Polina works closely with the world’s leading conductors, such as Osmo Vänskä, Teodor Currentzis, Fabio Mastrangelo, Sarah Hicks, Toshiyuki Shimada, Lawrence Loh, and Hannu Lintu. Polina’s compositions are actively performed by internationally acclaimed soloists such as trombonist R. Douglas Wright, violinist Elena Korzhenevich, and pianist Anton Nel.

With her larger chamber music works, Polina frequently turns to the tragedy of humanity’s collective history, in particular the Holocaust. Her work “Haim”, is performed annually around the world and has become an important ensemble composition of the second decade of the 21st century.

Since Fall 2021, Polina has been the Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor of the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras. Prior to her current position, she conducted the British Youth Music Theatre, RIOULT Dance NY, the University of Southern Mississippi Orchestra, and the Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Over the past decade, Polina formed a creative alliance with an award-winning pianist and librettist Konstantin Soukhovetski. Together, they have premiered many works of diverse genres, from solo piano to ballets. Currently, they are working on an opera, commissioned by Opera Mississippi to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary and to be premiered in 2023.

Polina’s unique musical language embodies the diversity of multi-cultural education. She graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory College in Moscow as a composition/violin double major, studying with Konstantin Batashov and Vladimir Ivanov, respectively. Polina earned her Masters’ and Artist Diploma in composition at the Yale School of Music with Christopher Theofanidis and Ezra Laderman. Currently, Polina is a Doctoral Candidate at The Graduate Center CUNY under the mentorship of Tania León. Polina’s honors and awards include Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Polina is an Adjunct Lecturer of Composition at Brooklyn College Conservatory and a Teaching Artist at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.

Joseph Sowa


Joseph Sowa grew up playing violin and listening to orchestral broadcasts on NPR. He was captivated by how music speaks to our bodies’ rhythmic layers, as captured by composers as varied as Elliott Carter, John Williams, and Stevie Wonder. Surrounded by these sounds, Joseph wanted to make more of them.

Recent performances include premieres played by the Ludovico Ensemble, Collage New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, and a consortium of English Horn players including Carolyn Hove, principal English Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His piece Motion Lines is scheduled for release by the PRISM Quartet on their album Surfaces and Essences.

His concert works have been performed in Europe by Quartetto Indaco, Arianna Tieghi, and Douglas Bush and throughout the United States by the Awea Duo, the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, the Lydian String Quartet, and the Tower Duo, as well as by Ron Brough, Douglas Bush, Eric Hansen, Jaren Hinckley, Scott Holden, Jed Moss, Ray Smith, and Neil Thornock, among others. He has been commissioned by performers including Hub New Music, the Genesis Chamber Singers, the Farallon Quintet, Douglas Bush, Carolyn Hove, Neil Thornock, and Arianna Tieghi as well as foundations including the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Laycock Endowment for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. Joseph’s sacred music, including originals and arrangements, has been performed in congregations across the United States and in London. His arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth” was recorded by soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick on her album American Grace, which debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard® “Traditional Classical” chart.

Joseph received his PhD in music composition and theory from Brandeis University. His dissertation paper examined the transformation of motive, tempo, and the symphonic genre in Thomas Adès’s Tevot, contextualizing it with Heraclitian philosophy and Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony. Other research interests include musical gestalt theory, 18th-century continuo and partimenti practice, and algorithmic composition.

But his time at Brandeis wasn’t all musical gestalt theory, 18th-century partimenti, and close analyses of great music. Joseph’s mentors David Rakowski, Yu-Hui Chang, and Marty Boykan worked hard to put students on high alert for the aesthetic hang-ups that tie most composers in knots. They taught Joseph to think twice about beliefs such as “bass-treble functions are passé” and “improvisation is not composition.” Once he started questioning academia’s “common knowledge,” Joseph started looking closer at the way composers are taught. He noticed a lot of rules, systems, and iconoclasm, but very few thorough explanations for how to create compelling music. Eventually, he created a new framework for composing that yields imaginative and effective music with less stress, and channeled his ideas into creating The Wizarding School for Composers, an online course designed to help composers develop their artistic voice and create meaningful musical experiences.

In addition to his Wizarding School for Composers, Dr. Sowa has taught at Northeastern University, Tufts University, Brandeis University, and Brigham Young University. His courses include standard composition, music theory, and aural skills—plus classes such as “Star Wars: How Long Ago? How Far Away?” Joseph is looking forward to the day when he can finally start work on his dream composition—a large-scale work for tuba ensemble.

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