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The imaginative composer behind the Williamsburg-based National Sawdust

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 14:51:51-04

BROOKLYN—When you enter the performance space of National Sawdust, you immediately understand why it’s described as an incubator of artistry.

The abstract design gets your creative juices going.

"Every time you see a picture, you know it's National Sawdust because of these walls. So it's exciting, after two and a half years, it's become a cultural destination for discovery and that's more than I could’ve asked for," Paola Prestini said.

Prestini teamed up with co-founder, Kevin Dolan, to build the space.

They wanted to create a venue where both emerging and established artists could develop and share their music with fans.

"When I was a composer in my early 20's, I found that it was very difficult to really imagine a full life for myself in a way that my predecessors had. And so  building National Sawdust from the ground up was a response to what I thought artists really needed in the 21st century. And also what audiences wanna hear," Prestini said.

And what they got was a vast concert space where you can hear anything from the New York Philharmonic, to brilliant indie culture and more, all in the span of one month.

For Prestini, who studied at the famous Interlochen Center for the Arts and then went on to Julliard, music was her life.

But like many musicians, she had to figure out a way to make a living with it.

"Right about then, I got something called the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for new Americans. And Paul Soros was incredible because, all of a sudden, I wasn’t just around composers or musicians, but I was around people thinking about sustaining the economy. And you know, thinking about ways to change the world," Prestini added.

Named one of the top 100 composers in the world by NPR, Prestini’s works range from opera, to choral to chamber works and more.

But her greatest composition yet, may be situated in Williamsburg.