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Luna Composition Lab

Watch the 2019 Solar Flare concert.

“I am very grateful that Luna Lab has introduced me to a vibrant community of other young female composers. The masterclasses I attend outside of the Lab mostly consist of male students and teachers, so the Luna Lab community encouragingly defies the status quo. I am also really excited to hear my piece performed live; it is often hard for young composers to get to hear their pieces in real time. Having a live recording of my favorite piece in my portfolio will also be really useful for future composition competition applications, leading, in turn, to more opportunities on the horizon.”   — Carolina Bragg, 2017-18 Fellow

About Luna Composition Lab

Kaufman Music Center and founders Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid have teamed up with acclaimed composers Reena Esmail, Kristin Kuster, Gity Razaz and Tamar Muskal for the fourth year of Luna Composition Lab, a unique program that provides mentorship and performance opportunities to young composers who are female-identifying, non-binary or gender non-conforming. Luna Composition Lab is a platform for a successful and well-balanced career in the arts. Alumni have been commissioned to compose for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Opera Omaha, and members of the Louisville Symphony, and the works of the Luna Lab fellows have been recorded by International Contemporary Ensemble. Each season culminates in a week of activities in New York City, which includes attending performances, networking events, and masterclasses with inspirational figures such as Renée Fleming, composers Julia Wolfe and Du Yun, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, violinist Jennifer Koh, Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, members of yMusic and bassoonist Rebekah Heller. The program has garnered attention from the New York Times, The New Yorker, Musical America, The Huffington Post and NY1 News.

2018-19 Luna Lab Fellows at masterclasses with Jennifer Koh and Toyin Spellman-Diaz

Female composers continue to make up the small minority of professional composers who are consistently performed, recorded and celebrated. We experience a lack of role models and a lack of encouragement to compose at an early age. To address this gender imbalance, Luna Composition Lab provides aspiring young female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers with:

  • One-on-one mentorship and bi-weekly Skype lessons from Oct 1-May 1
  • Performance opportunity in New York City as part of the Face the Music concert season
  • A week of masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours, concerts, and networking events in New York City
  • High-quality recordings of their work
  • Participation in rehearsals and coachings at Kaufman Music Center through Face the Music
  • Instant access to a network of professional performers and composers as well as the chance to meet other aspiring young female composers
  • Partnerships with New Amsterdam Records, National Sawdust, New York Philharmonic's Young Composer Program and the Contemporaneous Ensemble

Luna Lab recognizes that we live in a society characterized by a complex web of inequities – racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism among them. All of these forms of discrimination are intolerable, and we acknowledge the many ways they contribute to inequality. Luna Lab has determined that we must focus our efforts to heighten our effectiveness and therefore our current priority is providing an opportunity for applicants who self-identify as female, non-binary or gender non-conforming. (Thank you, Grantmakers In the Arts.)

2018-19 Luna Lab Fellows take a private tour of the Metropolitan Opera House and meet with the Met's head dramaturge Paul Cremo



  • New Amsterdam Records
  • National Sawdust
  • New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers Program
  • Contemporaneous Ensemble

Who Can Apply

Self-identified female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming young composers from 8th grade through college first years are invited to apply. Composers who have already participated in Luna Lab are asked to wait a year before applying again.

Get application info.


Tuition covers a small part of the total cost per Fellow to run Luna Lab, and remaining costs are covered by our generous funders. Luna Composition Lab is made possible, in part, by the Augustine Foundation, Calliope PR LLC, The Cheswatyr Foundation, The Patrina Foundation, and the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

What We Do

Luna Lab Fellows will work with a mentor to create a new work that will premiere in New York City the last week of April, 2020. All Fellows are required to be at the premiere in New York. (Travel stipends are available.) A final score of the new work will be due March 15, 2020, with drafts of the work-in-progress due on December 1, 2019 and February 1, 2020.

Luna Composition Lab is divided into three cycles. Over the course of the three cycles, Luna Lab Fellows will create a new piece of music to be performed at a concert the end of the third cycle.

First Cycle | Exploration: October - November
The mentors and mentees will meet via Skype or another online platform every two weeks for 45 minutes. The work of this cycle centers around sonic exploration and education. Through early sketches, conversations, directed listening and score study, the composition teacher will guide the student in the early stages of exploring a new sonic landscape that will develop into a piece.

Second Cycle | Workshop: December - February
The mentor and mentee will continue their bi-monthly meetings that will shift the focus to more tangible results. In this cycle, the Luna Composition Lab participant will hear the sketches of her composition realized through a series of workshops with Face the Music ensembles. The workshops will help illuminate what areas of the new piece need work. The mentor will work with the young composer to move the piece toward a state of completion during this cycle.

Third Cycle | Refinement / Performance: March - May
At the beginning of this cycle, the Luna Composition Lab participant must have a first draft. The focus of this cycle will be toward refining the piece for the concert at the end of the term. The mentor will give directed feedback to coach the student toward the best possible end result. The Luna Composition Lab participant will be able to make two revisions before the final score is due. The third cycle will culminate in a concert where all Luna Composition Lab students will be able to hear their work realized at the highest level.

"We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light."    - Hildegard von Bingen, 10th century composer & philosopher