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.