National Sawdust is a new multimedia performing arts organization and venue in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Despite its opening night being as recent as October 1, 2015, National Sawdust has already entrenched itself in the conversation and incubation of new music. With marquee and exciting new performers, a diverse range of curators and artists-in-residence, state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting, and a philosophy of inclusivity and joy around experimentation, National Sawdust is poised to change how people think about new music. Composer Paola Prestini leads the organization as its Executive & Creative Director.
We are a brand new critically acclaimed performance space and recording studio named "the new Carnegie Hall" (NY Mag) on North 6th & Wythe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The building is an acoustically-driven, geometrically complex chamber hall within an existing, graffitied, one hundred year old post-industrial shell of a former sawdust factory - hence the name, National Sawdust.
This nonprofit space is centered on discovery within music and led by Executive & Creative Director Composer Paola Prestini. As a composer-driven space, our programming is all curated, instead of booked. In the spirit of fostering new talent, we encourage our curators to do more than just perform - to bring in the talent, the undiscovered artists, the young artists that they believe in, and that they believe we should be listening to.
Over the past four months we have produced special performances with James Murphy, John Zorn, Philip Glass, Richard Reed Perry, Terry Riley, Nico Muhly, Kyp Malone, Chris Thile, Chairlift, The New York Philharmonic, Kristin Lee, Alessio Bax, Cibo Matto, Nels Cline, Imogene Strauss, Carnegie Hall, yMusic, Richard Eyre, Jeffrey Zeigler, Bryce Dessner, Kimbra, Punch Brothers, and more.
What the nominator wrote:
The driving creative spirit behind National Sawdust is Paola Prestini. As creative and executive director of a venue that was five years in the making and saw skyrocketing construction costs up to $16 million, Paola has demonstrated the rare ability to channel all the forces which could tear apart a project of this complexity into an unparalleled, focused collective vision. Paola has instilled in this still nascent venue and its staff a spirit of play, passion, style, grace, open-mindedness and humility, which has the potential to bring audiences of concert, club and popular musics together for true cross-pollination. With National Sawdust, there is the chance to break free of traditional power structures around concert music, and give emerging composers and musicians the chance to explore, hone their craft, and find new audiences.