Meadows Prize-winning violist Nadia Sirota joins SYZYGY for concert premiering new works by SMU students and alumni

Violist and 2013 Meadows Prize winner Nadia Sirota joins SYZYGY for an evening of world premieres written by Meadows composition students.

Nationally noted violist Nadia Sirota, winner of the 2013 Meadows Prize at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will join SYZYGY, the Meadows new music ensemble, to present the world premieres of six works commissioned from music composition students and recent graduates.

Nadia SirotaThe concert takes place Thursday, October 10 at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Admission is free; for more information, call 214-768-2787 or follow @MeadowsSYZYGY on Twitter.

Following the concert, Sirota will work with students to record and produce the compositions for later release.

The works were commissioned as the result of a competitive application process. Winners were chosen based on their past work and engaged to write a piece for ensembles drawn from the members of SYZYGY and Sirota herself.

The new works, which were inspired by experiences as diverse as a train ride through Argentina and the transitional summer between undergraduate and graduate school, include the following:

  • “Mamihlapinatapai on Regionale 21479” by Guido Arcella (B.M. ’14)
  • “CelestiAlignment” by Nathan Courtright (M.M. ’13)
  • “Metamorphose” by Vincent Gover (B.M. ’14)
  • “Interruptions and Diversions” by Jason Platt (M.M. ’14)
  •  “Orca” by Uriah Rinzel (M.M. ’14)
  •  “Drifting” by Michael van der Sloot (B.M. ’13)

The concert and recording project will be a focal point of the second half of Sirota’s Meadows Prize residency at SMU from October 7-19. It builds on ideas she gathered during the first half of her residency in April, during which she gave guest lectures at arts entrepreneurship and songwriting classes, coached chamber music students, presented viola master classes and demonstrated advanced electronic music as well as performed in three public concerts at Meadows.

“When I was thinking about how to structure the second half of my Meadows residency, I tried to hone in on the professional skills I have to draw upon regularly that were not taught to me as part of my conservatory education, specifically, fluency with recording and the studio,” says Sirota. “Most often, a recording is the means by which people get acquainted with your work, be it as a composer or a performer. As a musician, your recorded work represents your legacy, your achievements and your business card. There is simply no better way to gain skills in this medium than to try it out. It’s my hope this project will provide both production and performance skills as well as a useful record of students’ work at Meadows.”

Sirota will hold recording sessions with each composer in the week after the concert. The students will then participate in the editing and mixing process, along with Sirota and engineer Alexander Overington, giving them first-hand experience with all of the post-production work associated with creating a classical album.

“A key component of the Meadows Prize is the legacy that an artist leaves in Dallas,” says Matt Albert, director of SYZYGY and a 2010 Meadows Prize winner himself as a member of contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird. “We’re thrilled that Nadia has chosen this project as her legacy, and we’re especially excited for the experience it offers the performers and composers, working from getting a brand new piece through a performance to a recording.”


Inaugurated in October 2009, the Meadows Prize is presented each January to up to two pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile, active in a discipline represented by one of the academic units within the Meadows School. The prize includes housing for a one-month residency in Dallas, along with expenses and a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas. Winners have included New York-based public arts organization Creative Time and Grammy-winning contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird (2010), choreographer Shen Wei and playwright and performer Will Power (2011), Tony-winning playwright Enda Walsh and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan (2012), and Nadia Sirota and artist Tania Bruguera (2013).


“A one-woman contemporary-classical commissioning machine” (Pitchfork), violist Nadia Sirota is best known for her singular sound and expressive execution, coaxing solo works from the likes of Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter and Missy Mazzoli. Her debut album First Things First was released in 2009 on New Amsterdam Records and named a record of the year by The New York Times, and her sophomore album, Baroque, released in March on Bedroom Community and New Amsterdam, has been called “beautiful music of a higher order than anything else you will hear this year” by SPINMedia website PopMatters.

In addition to her work as a soloist, Sirota is a member of yMusic, ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and Alarm Will Sound, and has lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists and songwriters as Grizzly Bear, Jónsi and Arcade Fire. Sirota also hosts a radio show on WQXR’s New Music radio stream, Q2Music, for which she was awarded the 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in Radio and Internet Broadcasting. Sirota is the recipient of Southern Methodist University’s 2013 Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she performed as co-founder of the AXIOM ensemble, initiated the Castleman/Amory/Huang studio’s New Music Project, and created the Juilliard Plays Juilliard program for student composers and performers. After winning the top prize in Juilliard’s 2005 concerto competition, Sirota performed Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher with conductor Marin Alsop and the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall. As a chamber musician, Sirota has collaborated with such artists as Joseph Kalichstein, Itzhak Perlman and the Silk Road Ensemble, as well as with members of Kronos Quaret, the Chiara Quartet and the Peabody Trio. In the fall of 2007, she joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music for its new master’s degree program in contemporary music performance.