New York City-based composer, librettist, and multimedia artist Nell Shaw Cohen evokes visual art and natural landscapes in lyrically expressive works, which range from orchestral tone poems to iPad apps.

Cohen is a finalist for Houston Grand Opera's upcoming Song of Houston commissions, a 2015-17 Composers & the Voice Fellow with American Opera Projects, a participant in the 2017 New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, and Artist-in-Residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico (2016 & 2017). Last year, her opera Mabel’s Call received workshops in New York City and New Mexico. In 2014, her monodrama The Coming of Spring was given a workshop staging in NYC and she was Composer­-in-Residence with the New York University Symphony.

Cohen’s music inspired by visual art has been presented at venues including the Peabody Essex Museum, Parrish Art Museum, Harwood Museum of Art, Jordan Hall, and Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. As founder and director of Landscape Music, an online publication and composers network, Cohen advocates for music inspired by nature, landscape, and place.

Cohen is also an educational media producer and user experience designer. Her unique videos, multimedia installations, and interactive media have been viewed by thousands online. View her media design portfolio at

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Upcoming Performances

World Premiere of Crescent Meadow by New Mexico Highlands University Madrigal Choir

NMHU's Madrigal Choir, directed by Andre Garcia-Nuthmann, will perform the World Premiere of Crescent Meadow on an upcoming program in Las Vegas, New Mexico. This SATB choral work is a setting of a text about nature and spirituality in the Sierra Nevada, excerpted from the writings of early 20th century naturalist John Muir.

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 3:00pm
Ilfeld Auditorium
New Mexico Highlands University
University Avenue
Las Vegas, NM 87701
General admission $5, students free
Venue event listing

Mabel's Call: Celebrating a Remarkable Taos Woman through Music at the Harwood Museum of Art

In celebration of the city of Taos’s annual Mabel Dodge Luhan Day, the Harwood Museum of Art and The Mabel Dodge Luhan House present a behind-the-scenes look at Mabel’s Call: a lyrical new chamber opera that dramatizes Mabel’s self-reinvention in Taos. New York City-based composer and librettist Nell Shaw Cohen, in conversation with author and Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company co-curator Lois Rudnick, will explore the process of interpreting Luhan’s life and historical context through music. Cohen and Rudnick will screen and discuss video clips of a live performance of selections from the opera-in-progress. Audience Q&A will follow.

Sunday, June 18, 2017, 2:00pm
Harwood Museum of Art
238 Ledoux Street
Taos, NM 87571
Free admission (seating is limited)
Venue event listing

View additional upcoming and recent performances.

Featured Compositions and Multimedia Projects

Visit Music for a full list of works

Mabel's Call (2016)

A one act opera, currently in development, inspired by the life of early 20th century writer, arts promoter, and salon hostess, Mabel Dodge Luhan. Scored for 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass-baritone, with chorus and chamber ensemble. Video features excerpts from piano-vocal workshop reading on August 12, 2016 at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico. Learn more at

Point Reyes from Chimney Rock (2014)

Orchestral tone poem commissioned by the NYU Symphony and premiered on March 3, 2014 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York, NY. Conducted by David Rosenmeyer.

The Coming of Spring (2014)

A one-act monodrama for tenor and chamber ensemble inspired by the life and paintings of Charles E. Burchfield. Learn more about the April 2014 workshop performance and listen to a complete scene at

Explore John Muir's Yosemite (2014)

This multimedia installation for web and iPad app illustrates the writings of naturalist and conservationist John Muir through interactive photography and music, offering an engaging new interpretation of Muir's vision of nature. Explore ten sites in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks with Muir as your guide.

California Zephyr (2014)

Video and music for piccolo, clarinet, 2 percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Filmed from the California Zephyr Amtrak train over three days, traveling from Chicago to San Francisco. Music recorded live by the NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble.

The Winding Path (2013)

String Quartet performed by The JACK Quartet. Learn about this performance.

Watercolors (2011)

A Musical Tribute to Charles Burchfield at the Parrish Art Museum performed by The Chelsea Quintet. Learn about Watercolors.

Visit Music for a full list of works

© 2016 Nell Shaw Cohen. All rights reserved.
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