2022 Composers

Robert Honstein


Celebrated for his “waves of colorful sounds” (New York Times) and “smart, appealing works” (The New Yorker), Robert Honstein (b. 1980) is a New York based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music.

Ensembles and performers of Robert’s music include the Albany Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique du Mulhouse, Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble Dal Niente, Mivos Quartet, Del Sol Quartet, Argus Quartet, TIGUE, New Morse Code, Colin Currie, Theo Bleckmann, Doug Perkins, Michael Burritt, Karl Larson, Ashley Bathgate, among others. Interdisciplinary collaborators include photographer Chris McCaw, projection designer Hannash Wasileski, graphic designer Laura Grey, director Daniel Fish and his music has also been choreographed by numerous dance companies including the Cincinnati Ballet. His music has been released by New Focus Records, Soundspells Productions, Cedille Records, and New Amsterdam Records. NPR included his piece ‘Pulse’ from Eighth Blackbird’s ‘Hand Eye’ as one of their top 100 songs of 2016.

Robert is a founding member of the New York-based composer collective Sleeping Giant. With a commitment to building community around the music of our time, Robert has co-founded Fast Forward Austin and Times Two in Boston. As an educator Robert has participated in outreach projects around the country, while also serving as Program Manager and Composition Faculty at NYU, Steinhardt.


Nina C. Young

Nina C. Young

The music of composer Nina C. Young (b.1984) is characterized by an acute sensitivity to tone color, manifested in aural images of vibrant, arresting immediacy.

Her musical voice mixes elements of the classical canon, modernism, spectralism, American experimentalism, minimalism, electronic music, and popular idioms. Her projects, ranging from concert pieces to interactive installations, strive to create unique sonic environments that explore aural architectures, resonance, and ephemera.

Young’s works have been presented by Carnegie Hall, the National Gallery, the Whitney Museum, LA Phil’s Next on Grand, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series. Her music has garnered international acclaim through performances by the American Composers Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Aizuri Quartet, Either/Or, the JACK Quartet, wild Up, and Yarn/Wire. Winner of the 2015-16 Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, Young has also received a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Koussevitzky Commission, the Aaron Copland Bogliasco Fellowship in Music, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Salvatore Martirano Memorial Award, Aspen Music Festival’s Jacob Druckman Prize, and honors from BMI, IAWM, and ASCAP/SEAMUS.

In 2019, Carnegie Hall commissioned Out of whose womb came the ice with the American Composers Orchestra: for baritone, orchestra, electronics, and generative video, commenting on the ill-fated Ernest Shackleton Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17. Other recent projects include Tread softly that opened the NY Philharmonic’s Project 19, a violin concerto for Jennifer Koh from the Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Glow that Illuminates, The Glare that Obscures for the American Brass Quintet alongside an immersive audio-visual installation version commissioned by EMPAC showcasing a vertical orientation of their wave field synthesis audio system.

A graduate of McGill University and MIT, Young completed her DMA at Columbia University. She is an Assistant Professor of Composition at USC’s Thornton School of Music. She serves as Co-Artistic Director of New York’s Ensemble Échappé. Her music is published by Peermusic Classical.


Polina Nazaykinskaya

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.

Omar Surillo

Omar Surillo

Omar Surillo, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an award-winning composer, producer/engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Dallas, TX.

His music has been performed nationally and internationally in various ensembles ranging from classical to rock. Most recently, his music was premiered by the Victory Players as part of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) summer series, “El Puerto Rico”. Both works commissioned by MIFA received their radio and television premieres in 2021 through New England Public Media and WGBH.

Between 2000 and 2004, Surillo toured extensively as a drummer and guitarist for rock groups Mashlin, Unsung Zeros, and Agent Felix, opening for acts such as the Ataris, Thursday, MxPx, Yellowcard, The Sleeping, and Punchline. Feeling that being in a commercial band constrained his musical aspirations, he decided to leave those restrictions behind to pursue music theory and composition.

Omar Surillo received his Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Yale School of Music in May of 2011 and a Bachelor of Music (Music Theory and Composition) from Stetson University in 2008. Currently, Omar serves as a member of the music faculty at Dallas College – Richland, where he teaches Music Theory, Musicianship, Composition, piano, and guitar. Aside from his teaching duties, Omar remains an active composer and is often called upon to write, collaborate, and record with artists all over the US and Latin America.

Meilina Tsui

Meilina Tsui

Meilina Tsui (b. 1993) is an award-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, radio producer and presenter, and advocate for youth artistic development.

Born in Kazakhstan and raised in Hong Kong, Meilina is a composer who “popularizes Kazakh music tradition” (Kazakhstan International News Agency, Kazinform) and writes music that uniquely combines elements of Eurasian and South-East Asian cultures. She is the first Chinese classical composer of Dungan descent (an underrepresented ethnic minority group from Central Asia) whose music has received international recognition.

Tsui’s music, described by The Aspen Times as “irresistible, and emotionally convincing,” has been performed and read across Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East by leading soloists, ensembles and orchestras, such as the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, PHACE Ensemble, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Romer String Quartet, TURAN Ethno-folk Ensemble, Windpipe Chinese Music Ensemble, Lontano Ensemble, Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble, Nancy Loo & Mary Wu Piano Duo, Quartetto Indaco, Israeli Chamber Project, Mivos Quartet, Kazakh State String Quartet, Radio Television Hong Kong Chamber Soloists, and MR. Quartet & City Contemporary Dance Company, members of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Irvine Arditti, Fleming Artist, Key’mon W. Murrah, and broadcast by NAXOS Music & Video Libraries, London arts radio “Resonance fm,” RTHK Radio 4 and Channel 31.

In recent years, Tsui’s Nomadic Trails for chamber orchestra has won the 2022 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award and the 2021 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award from the University of Michigan. Her String Quartet No. 2 “Kazakh Steppe” has won the Audience Prize at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival in Hong Kong, the I Creation Mivos Quartet Composition Prize in New York City, the Musicus Society Call For Scores in Hong Kong, and was selected out of 2,200 works for performance by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles. The piece has had perfomances in Italy, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, New York City, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Tel-Aviv, and Chautauqua. In 2018, Tsui was the main featured composer at the “Beyond Boundaries, Beyond Time. Hong Kong-Kazakhstan” Concert held in Almaty that marked the Secretary for Home Affairs Bureau’s first official visit to Kazakhstan. In celebration of the HKSAR’s 20th anniversary in 2017, she was the youngest and only female composer featured at the London “HK Music Series.”

Recently, Tsui has been commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and Asia Society Texas Center to write a family-friendly chamber opera, titled The Big Swim, to be performed for 12 consecutive years that will educate audiences about the Lunar New Year. As a strong supporter of cultural and racial diversity and inclusion, Tsui wrote a piece called Ay-Ay, Bopem (A Kazakh Lullaby Without Words), commissioned by leading members of the Lexington Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras for the ArtsWave Isolation Commissions, centered on themes of racial injustice and cultural healing.

International festivals that have featured her work include Asian Composers’ League Festival (Vietnam), highSCORE Festival (Italy), Asia-Europe New Music Festival (Russia), All-Russian Young Composers Festival (Russia), Asia Pacific International Songwriting Camp (Taiwan), Intimacy of Creativity (Hong Kong), Vienna Summer Music Festival (Austria), and the Aspen Music Festival & School (United States). This year, Tsui is featured as a Composer Fellow at the Chautauqua Opera Company, Del Mar International Composers Symposium, and Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.

Tsui earned a B.A. in Music with First-Class Honors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a M.Mus. in Composition with Distinction from King’s College London, and a D.M.A. in Composition with High Pass from the University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan, Tsui studied with Professors Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty, and was a Graduate Student Instructor of Composition, Music Theory, and Aural Skills.

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