Nell’s Paintings Featured in Hudson Vallery Arts Events, Spring 2024

I’m delighted that my work as a painter was selected for inclusion in two art events here in the Hudson Valley this spring! To learn more about my visual art, visit my new art portfolio page.

Posted for "Woodland Creatures" exhibitFRIDAY, MAY 3-SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2024

Woodland Creatures
Wallkill River Center for the Arts, Montgomery, NY

A new painting of mine will be included in this group exhibition juried by Susan Siegel. More information here.


Plein Air Art Walk
Presented by Mohonk Preserve and Roost Arts Hudson Valley
Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz, NY

Posted for "Woodland Creatures" exhibit
Photo by Bill Winter for Mohonk Preserve

I will be painting in this special event celebrating Mohonk Preserve and the magic of creating artworks en plein air.

Visitors will have a chance to watch artists at work, stationed at breathtaking views on a trail starting from Mohonk Preserve’s Testimonial Gateway.

Immediately following the event, the finished artworks will be sold in an online auction and displayed at the Mohonk Preserve Visitors Center through the month of June. More information here.

The American Prize Selects Nell as Finalist for “Sauntering Songs”

The American Prize sealIt’s a huge honor to have been selected as a Finalist in the Major Choral Works division of The American Prize, the national non-profit competitions in the performing arts, for my work Sauntering Songs!

Winners will be announced later this year. See the complete list of finalists.

Commissioned and premiered by Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Matthew Guard, Artistic Director) with guest performances by Juventas New Music Ensemble and James Moore, Sauntering Songs is probably my favorite project to date. So recognition for this work is especially meaningful to me.

Sauntering Songs emerged through my engagement of an array of authors, advocates, and activists who have deeply explored walking as a personal, cultural, and political practice. The work’s musical language encompasses choral music, chamber music, musical theater, and progressive rock, among many other influences, carrying my early background as a rock musician forward into my present practice as a composer.

Album cover for "Sauntering Songs"Engaging with themes of gender, age, race, class, and disability through an intersectional feminist lens—and traversing stories ranging from trespassing in the British countryside to thru-hiking on the Appalachian trail—Sauntering Songs asks the question: “If walking is an essential way of being […] Then who may claim the right to be in this world?

Skylark’s World Premiere live recording of Sauntering Songs (paired with Transform the World with Beauty) is available on all major streaming music platforms (including SpotifyAmazon MusicApple MusicPandora, and Tidal). The physical CD is available for purchase from Skylark. Check out the liner notes for my libretto and introductory essay to accompany your listening.

Nell’s music at ASTA, PMEA, & NATS conferences, plus Monmouth Civic Orchestra

Spring’s greetings, friends!

On today’s equinox, here in the Hudson Valley, buds and sprouts are emerging from winter dormancy and migratory birds are making their appearances. Meanwhile, the spring concert season is warming up around the country.

I’m honored that my music is being featured at three different professional conferences for music educators in the coming months, in performances ranging from a chorus of 245 young voices to solo cello. Additionally, my orchestral tone poem The Sphinx and the Milky Way will be given its fifth performance! Read on for details of these performances.

Wishing you all the best,


(Image above: the skunk cabbage, icon of spring!)

Horizon at ASTA National Conference

Thursday, March 21 at 2:30pm
Kentucky International Convention Center, Louisville, KY

My work for solo cello, Horizon, was selected through a national Call for Scores to be featured in the New Music Reading Sessions at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference.

Horizon will be presented by Mira Frisch in the Applied Studio: Solo and Chamber Music reading session featuring music by Women Composers for Cello, Double Bass, Harp, & Guitar.

It’s a Long Way at PMEA Annual Conference

Saturday, April 20 at 4:00pm
Warner Theatre, Erie, PA

The 245 young voices of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State Chorus, conducted by Christopher Jackson, will perform my choral work It’s a Long Way at the annual PMEA Conference in Erie, PA.

Monmouth Civic Orchestra Performs The Sphinx and the Milky Way

Painting "The Sphinx and the Milky Way" by Charles E. Burchfield

Sunday, April 28 at 3:00pm
Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL

The Monmouth Civic Orchestra, conducted by Richard Cangro, performs my orchestral tone poem inspired by the paintings of Charles E. Burchfield.

Woman Walking at the NATS National Conference

Monday, July 1 at 2:00pm
NATS National Conference, Knoxville, TN

As winner of the 2024 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Artist Award, soprano Emily Siar will perform my song Woman Walking on her featured solo recital at the NATS National Conference.

“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!


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.