“Retrace” reprised, a new opera, & CD release!

Juventas Plays Retrace This Saturday

Saturday, 11/11 at 8:00pm ET
East Cambridge, MA
& Streaming Live on YouTube

Juventas New Music Ensemble presents encore performances of audience favorites from their recent seasons—including my piece Retrace!

Get tickets, read the program, and watch the livestream here.


New Opera in Workshop Staging: The Fire Tower

A black and white photo taken at the base of a staircase, looking up at a fire tower atop a mountain summitFriday, 11/17 at 7:30pm
Sunday, 11/19 at 3:00pm
San Antonio, TX

The University of Texas at San Antonio presents a fully-staged workshop production of my new short opera, The Fire Tower, on their program “Epigrams”! Directed by Jourdan Laine Howell. Tickets are available here and at the UTSA Recital Hall.

Set against a backdrop of climate crisis in the American West, this 24-minute opera for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and piano is an intimate portrait of two intrepid women who develop a bond of friendship during a trek deep into the wilderness. Learn more about The Fire Tower.


Sauntering Songs Now Available on CD

Album cover for "Sauntering Songs"My album Sauntering Songs is now available on physical CD from Skylark Vocal Ensemble! Please consider supporting my wonderful collaborators by purchasing a copy.

The album is also available on all streaming music platforms.

Extended liner notes for Sauntering Songs are available here.


Autumn Art Prints Added to Shop

This Fall I released giclée prints of two new watercolor paintings depicting autumn foliage and rock cliffs here in the Shawangunk Mountains. Check them out, along with my Spring/Summer series, at my Etsy shop!

“Sauntering Songs” Album Released by Skylark Vocal Ensemble

Album cover for "Sauntering Songs"

Sauntering Songs
Skylark Vocal Ensemble | Matthew Guard
Juventas New Music Ensemble | James Moore

Watch the trailer:

I’m thrilled to share that the first full-length album of my concert music was released today by three-time GRAMMY nominee Skylark Vocal Ensemble!

Sauntering Songs is available now on all major streaming music platforms (including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal). The CD will be available in October, and may be pre-ordered from Skylark. Visit my website for digital liner notes with essays and lyrics.

Skylark’s 75-minute live album features the title work—a concert-length cantata with guest performances by Juventas New Music Ensemble and guitarist James Moore—alongside choral cycle Transform the World with Beauty. Both were commissioned by Skylark and recorded live in concert.

Sauntering Songs (tracks 1-17) is my love letter to wanderlust: weaving together art songs, choral music, and literature into an expansive cantata on the theme of walking. From Walt Whitman to the present day, Sauntering Songs celebrates diverse characters who search for freedom and fulfillment through subversive journeys on foot. Transform the World with Beauty (tracks 18-20) was inspired by the flowering of visual art and poetry in Victorian Britain.

I’m incredibly honored to have participated in this stunning recording that Skylark and our collaborators have created, and now to be able to share our work with you. I sincerely hope you enjoy Sauntering Songs!

—Nell

The scores of Sauntering Songs and Transform the World with Beauty are both available for performance, in full or excerpts. Please contact me for purchasing information.

“Woman Walking” on Laura Strickling’s Album 40@40

Album cover for Laura Strickling's "40@40"

Visionary soprano and new music advocate Laura Strickling commissioned 40 composers (and almost as many poets and lyricists) to write art songs for her 40@40 Project. The first volume in this collection, recorded with fabulous pianist Daniel Schlosberg, has been released on Bright Shiny Things records and is available on all streaming platforms (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music) and for purchase (Bright Shiny Things).

My song Woman Walking with lyrics by Megan Cohen appears on this album (track 10), alongside works by a formidable array of excellent composers and lyricists.

This wonderful release hit #1 on Billboard for Traditional Classical Albums for the week of September 2! Incredible work by Laura, Daniel, and the team at Bright Shiny Things.

Live Recordings from Juventas at The Clark

Nell with Juventas New Music Ensemble (Oliver Caplan, Artistic Director; Nicholas Southwick, flute; Matthew Smith, cello; and Ryan Shannon, violin) at The Clark.

Earlier this summer, Juventas New Music Ensemble gave brilliant renditions of my works for flute, violin, and cello at The Clark Art Institute‘s Community Day. Live recordings from these performances are now available to stream!

Visit my Soundcloud playlist to hear all of these pieces, and click the titles below to read my program notes and peruse the scores:

SUNBEAMS (2023) – World Premiere
A miniature inspired by Edvard Munch’s 1912 painting “The Sun.”

RETRACE (2018)
This work evokes juxtapositions of past and present in California along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

HORIZON (2013)
A cello solo reflecting landscapes of the East End of Long Island.

LAMENT FOR THE LAND (2023) – World Premiere
A lament expressing grief for humanity’s broken relationship with our environment, and hopeful yearning for a healed Earth.

WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (2016/arr. 2023)
This selection from my wildlife conservation suite Refuge dramatizes the story of the American Bison in Yellowstone National Park.

All of these works are available for performance. Please contact me for purchasing information.

New scores, concerts, and album release this summer!

Photograph of turtleSummer has arrived!

Here in the Hudson Valley, fragrant milkweed are blooming. Fireflies are flashing. And turtles are digging their nests (a favorite, the endangered wood turtle, pictured here).

And with the season, a few fun announcements from my composing activities—including free outdoor performances, a new album featuring my music, and the release of 10 (!) new works of my vocal music. Read on for more!

Juventas Performs Nell’s Music in July

Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA (July 16)
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, MA (July 23)
Edvard Munch's painting "The Sun"
Edvard Munch, The Sun (1912). Munchmuseet, Oslo, Norway.

My perennial collaboration with Boston’s wonderful Juventas New Music Ensemble continues with these free, outdoor performances in July:

On Sunday, July 16, as part of their Community Day, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA presents Juventas in two performances (11:00am and 2:00pm) of a full 45-minute program of my music!

This program will include FOUR World Premiere works and arrangements, exploring themes represented in the Clark’s special exhibitions: landscapes, ecology, and visual art. Highlights will include my miniature inspired by Edvard Munch’s The Sun (on exhibit at The Clark). Featuring Nick Southwick, flute; Ryan Shannon, violin; and Matthew Smith, cello. More information here.

A week later, Juventas will reprise their performance of my work Retrace in a performance at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site on Sunday, July 23 at 2:00pm in Brookline, MA, also featuring music by Christina Rusnak, Oliver Caplan, Gwenyth Walker, and Stacey Garrop. More information here.

Woman Walking on Laura Strickling’s Upcoming Album

Album cover for Laura Strickling's "40@40"

I am thrilled for phenomenal GRAMMY-nominated soprano Laura Strickling‘s upcoming album of 20 World Premiere art songs, which she has commissioned and recorded with pianist Daniel Schlosberg—including my song Woman Walking with lyrics by Megan Cohen!

40@40 will be released by the Bright Shiny Things label on August 18. Pre-order here before August 17th with code LAURA20 for 20% off.

Selections from Sauntering Songs

Cover of the score of "Street Haunting" for choir

Looking for new music for choir or solo voice to perform? I’ve just released the scores of 10 (!) selections from my cantata Sauntering Songs, which may be programmed as standalone pieces.

Each song explores themes of walking and wanderlust, celebrating diverse characters who search for freedom and fulfillment through subversive journeys on foot.

Explore these titles and view free perusal scores on my website:

Interesting in performing any of this music? Please contact me for purchasing information.

 

Prints of “Shawangunk Spring” watercolors now available on Etsy

Collage of five watercolor landscape paintings with the text "Shawangunk Spring: Watercolors by Nell Shaw Cohen, giclee prints now available on Etsy"

I’m excited to announce that, for the first time ever, my artwork is available for purchase!

For the grand opening of my Etsy store, I’ve created a series of five watercolor paintings, titled “Shawangunk Spring,” exploring the sublime beauties of the spring season in the Hudson Valley’s Shawangunk Mountains.

From delicate woodland wildflowers to hardy pitch pines on rock outcroppings, these images are a reflection of many hours spent in close observation of an environment I’m fortunate to call home.

My artworks are available as reproductions ranging in size from 5×7″ to 9×12″, printed with archival-quality inks on heavy watercolor paper using a giclée printing process. (At this time, only reproductions are available—but I might begin selling original paintings at some point if there’s enough interest.)

I plan to release more works and expand my stock over the summer, so please follow me on Instagram or Etsy (or drop me a note) if you’d like to be kept in the loop with store updates.

Looking back on “Sauntering Songs” World Premiere concerts

Nell reaches out to shake the hand of conductor Matthew Guard in front of the performing ensemble, standing for applause after their performance inside a historic church.
“Sauntering Songs” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Newburyport, MA.

Nell poses with conductor Matthew Guard and an ensemble of 16 singers and instrumentalists, wearing casual clothes, during a recording session in a church venue.

Last week I had the unreal experience of watching my vision for concert-length cantata “Sauntering Songs,” a project many years in the making, come to life through the phenomenal voices of Skylark (Matthew Guard, Artistic Director; Sophie Amelkin, Fotina Naumenko, Carrie Cheron, Doug Dodson, Megan Roth, Paul D’Arcy, Erik Gustafson, Nathan Hodgson, Matthew Goinz, Enrico Lagasca, and Dana Whiteside) and an all-star instrumental quartet (guitarist James Moore with Thomas Barth, cello, Julia Scott Carey, piano, and Stacey Chou, flute, of Juventas New Music Ensemble).

I’m grateful for this project, these collaborators, and this week, for so, so many reasons… not least of which that I was able to join the artists for their rehearsals and three World Premiere performances, and to meet the audiences and hear their response to this work.

The final concert was recorded, and I look forward to being able to share it with all of you someday soon!

Announcing “Sauntering Songs,” a cantata for Skylark Vocal Ensemble

Title reads "Sauntering Songs" with photo of a distant figure walking on a footpath in grass-covered hills
World Premiere Performances in April 2023

I am thrilled to share a once-in-a-lifetime, dream-come-true project, and my third collaboration with the world class Skylark Vocal Ensemble: Sauntering Songs.

A love letter to wanderlust, this World Premiere commission weaves together art songs, choral music, and literature into an expansive cantata on the theme of walking. Influences from rock, folk, and musical theater feature prominently in this score marrying Skylark’s voices with an instrumental quartet. From Walt Whitman to the present day, Sauntering Songs celebrates diverse characters who search for freedom and fulfillment through subversive journeys on foot.

This work is an expression of so much that I’m passionate about, in music and in life. I look forward to sharing this work with audiences in Massachusetts next spring!

Subscription tickets are available now for the three World Premiere concerts as part of Skylark’s 2022-23 season, “a tour de force of innovative programs that re-define the choral experience for singers and audiences alike.” Single tickets go on sale August 25. Learn more here.

THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2023 | 7 pm
(6:15 pm pre-concert talk)
Simon Center for the Arts
at Falmouth Academy
Falmouth, MA

FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2023 | 7 pm
(6:15 pm pre-concert talk)
Church of the Redeemer
Chestnut Hill, MA

SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2023 | 7 pm
(6:15 pm pre-concert talk)​
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Newburyport, MA

June 2 Workshop of New Family Holiday Opera

Hear a Christmas fairy tale set in the magical world of “The Wizard of Oz”!

Librettist Edward Einhorn and I first started dreaming up The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a family opera adaptation of the 1902 holiday classic by L. Frank Baum, back in 2015 while we were both fellows in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

This nontraditional Christmas fairy tale set in the magical world of “The Wizard of Oz” has always captured my imagination. Now I’m delighted to share that there will be a workshop preview of our opera-in-progress, in person in NYC and streaming online!

Hear 25 minutes of excerpts from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, performed in a piano-vocal concert reading of two holiday operas next Thursday, June 2 at 7:30pm EDT at OPERA America’s National Opera Center, 330 7th Ave, New York, NY, in a presentation by Edward Einhorn’s Untitled Theater Company No. 61. “Claus” will be paired with excerpts from Exagoge, Edward’s opera on Passover themes with composer Avner Finberg.

Reserve your ticket here (recommended donation $10; masks and proof of vaccination required). A free livestream will also be available on YouTube and posted for 48 hours following the performance.