Missy Mazzoli

Carlos Barba


Missy Mazzoli is one of the leading classical music composers of the present. Her music has been performed by Kronos Quartet, Opera Philadelphia, L.A. Opera, Cincinnati Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, Detroit Symphony, L.A. Philharmonic, etc. She has been composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Music Theatre-Group, Albany Symphony, and is currently teaching at Mannes College of Music, a division of The New School. She has also won dozens of awards, grants, commissions, and fellowships in, and outside of the United States. Mazzoli is breaking the museum culture in classical music by constantly writing fresh and original contemporary works that are being performed extensively by prestigious musicians and institutions. She is also supporting, guiding, and creating opportunities for women composers in order to balance the huge gender inequality gap in the classical world. 

In an interview, Mazzoli noted that as a female composer she was “entering a world that is inhospitable to [her]. Strong role models can make a huge difference for the next generation of black sheep.”[1]Before becoming recognized as a composer, Mazzoli faced discrimination and was often not taken seriously as a composer, mainly due to gender. She was able to overcome this and wants to help other women and minorities succeed in a music genre that has been completely dominated by white male composers.[2]Mazzoli has been actively involved in organizations that mentor and support young composers for many years. Luna Composition Lab, a partnership with New York Kauffman Center, focuses on helping female composers in their teens. MATA Festival New York provides a platform for young composers of all backgrounds to submit their works to have them performed in a prestigious annual event. 

Besides trying to get new music by aspiring composers exposed, Mazzoli is constantly composing fresh and innovative works for a variety of ensembles and instrumentations. She has emphasized that she tries really hard not to repeat herself. She always forces herself to do something new in every single piece she composes. As much as Mazzoli loves the classical tradition, she creates music for the present. She is very fond of using technology and digital instruments in her chamber works. I know there are many musicians and composers that have been doing similar things for a long time, but Mazzoli has achieved what very few composers have. She is breaking the norm by having her contemporary compositions performed by major orchestras and ensembles that have been stuck in a rut performing symphonies, operas, and other works from the 17th-20thcenturies.  I really enjoyed watching her speak and express her thoughts in several interviews. She is so humble and eager to help others succeed in the extremely difficult world of composition. I admire her progressive mindset and her innovative rhythmic and minimalist approach to writing and performing music. The music world needs more people that are willing to break the norms in positive ways; Missy Mazzoli is definitely a great example. 

[1]Midgette, A.

[2]Youtube interview


Fox, MeiMei. “This Musician Is Dedicated To Gender Equity In Her Male-Dominated Field.” Forbes. March 22, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/meimeifox/2018/03/22/this-musician-is-dedicated-to-gender-equity-in-her-male-dominated-field/#125c92927f9e

“Interview with CSO Mead Composer-In-Residence Missy Mazzoli (MusicNOW).” YouTube video, 2:47, posted by “Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” Oct. 18,

Midgette, Anne. “Steeped in Guns N’ Roses and Philip Glass, Missy Mazzoli Is a Leading Composer of Her Generation.” The Washington Post. January 12, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/steeped-in-guns-n-roses-and-philip-glass-missy-mazzoli-is-a-leading-composer-of-her-generation/2018/01/12/e38850de-f567-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3ee5001b1e31

 “Transient Glory 2014: Meet the Composer.” YouTube video, 2:04, posted by “Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Apr. 23, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fha7x7dPIJ0

[1] Anne Midgette

[2] Interview with CSO Mead Composer

[3] MeiMei Fox

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