Nell Shaw Cohen is a composer, librettist, and multimedia artist based in New York City. She evokes visual art, natural landscapes, and the lives of mavericks and artists in lyrical works from orchestral tone poems to mobile apps.

Upcoming Engagements
  • Houston Grand Opera, HGOco Song of Houston chamber opera commission for a “feminist rodeo opera” with librettist Megan Cohen (Spring 2021).
  • University of New Mexico, UNM Opera Theatre, Composer-in-Residence and workshop production of chamber opera Mabel’s Call (Fall 2018).
  • Montage Music Society, commission for a piano trio inspired by the installations of Andy Goldsworthy (Spring 2019).
  • Director of Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails national concert series with the Landscape Music Composers Network (Fall 2018).
Recent Engagements
  • Fort Worth Opera Frontiers showcase, featured excerpts from opera Mabel’s Call.
  • American Opera Projects, Composers & the Voice fellowship.
  • Nautilus Music-Theater, Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists.
  • Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, Artist-in-Residence.
  • The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, Artist-in-Residence.
  • New Dramatists, five-day workshop of music-theater work Fallen Star with playwright Mashuq Mushtaq Deen.
  • Page 73 Yale Summer Residency and New York Theatre Workshop, Guest Artist in theater workshops.
Mailing List

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 7:30pm

The Betterment Society
Diversionary Theatre, San Diego, California (event page)
The Spark new play festival presents a reading of The Betterment Society by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, featuring a song written by Nell and Deen. Tickets are $15; purchase online.

Friday, June 15, 2018 at 8:00pm

The Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe and the New Mexico Landscape
House concert, Jacksonville, Florida (event page)
The Bold City Contemporary Ensemble performs works selected from their annual Call for Scores, including a live performance and screening of Nell’s The Faraway Nearby, a multimedia piece with video and music for flute, clarinet, piano, violin, and cello. Ticket $40 advance, $50 at the door; purchase online.

Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 7:00pm

Human Child Lullaby, Sorting Photos, and Bury Me
Goodenough College, Bloomsbury, London UK (event page)
An evening of arias and songs, including three of Nell’s works written with playwright and librettist Edward Einhorn—two of which are World Premieres—featuring students from Goodenough College.

See more events.

Featured Works


A chamber opera in one act, set in New Mexico, inspired by the life of Mabel Dodge Luhan: an early 20th century writer, philanthropist, and international icon of the avant-garde. Learn more.

REFUGE (2016)

A narrative suite for chamber ensemble following the conservation stories of three wild animals and their habitats in national parks. Composed in commemoration of the centennial of the National Park Service. Learn more.


A monodrama for tenor and chamber ensemble based on the writings and paintings of Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967). Learn more.


An orchestral tone poem inspired by the coastal landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area and a woodblock print by contemporary artist Tom Killion. Learn more.


A work for solo piano written during an Artist Residency at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming, and inspired by the landscape of Brush Creek Ranch. Learn more.