Nell Shaw Cohen

Nell Shaw Cohen
Based in the Hudson Valley, NY
Founder & Director, Landscape Music

“My passion for nature, landscape, and place has infused my work, from tone poems for symphony orchestra to multimedia pieces for chamber ensemble with video. My Landscape Music encompasses reflections upon my personal experiences and memories of places, as well as reinterpretations of landscapes depicted by visual artists and writers.”


Composer, librettist, and multimedia artist Nell Shaw Cohen (b. 1988) evokes natural landscapes, visual art, and the lives of mavericks and artists in her lyrical works for the stage, concert hall, and digital media.

Cohen has been commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write chamber opera Turn and Burn (premiere 2022) with librettist Megan Cohen for HGOco’s Song of Houston initiative. This project was awarded an OPERA America Female Composers Commissioning Grant. Her chamber opera Mabel’s Call was featured at Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase (Spring 2018) and at the University of New Mexico Opera Theatre in a workshop production (Fall 2018). Her monodrama The Coming of Spring was given a workshop staging in NYC (2014).

She is an alumna of the Composers & the Voice fellowship with American Opera Projects and Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists. Her residencies have included Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, New York University Symphony, and a Page 73 Yale Summer Residency with playwright Mashuq Mushtaq Deen. She has presented concerts with the Parrish Art Museum (Southampton, NY), Harwood Museum (Taos, NM), and Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA), et al, and received commissions from Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Boston Choral Ensemble, The Brass Project, Montage Music Society, NYU Symphony, Boston GuitarFest, and WordSong.

Raised in San Francisco, CA and Sag Harbor, NY, she studied composition at New York University (M.M.) and New England Conservatory (B.M.) with Herschel Garfein, Michael Gandolfi, John Mallia, Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, et al. Her honors have included the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts Award, Presser Scholar Award, NEC’s Chadwick Medal, and the Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music

As an educational media producer and User Experience designer, she has also designed and developed unique multimedia projects that have been viewed by tens of thousands online. She received several university grants for her digital projects and earned a post-graduate certificate from NYU in educational media design.


Work Samples

Transforming Forest (2018) for violin, cello, and piano, commissioned and recorded by Montage Music Society, 2019. Learn more about this piece.

Transforming Forest is inspired by Andy Goldsworthy‘s four site-specific land art installations in the Presidio of San Francisco, California.

Refuge (2016) for flute, violin, cello, and percussion. Live recording by Cadillac Moon Ensemble, 2016. Learn more about this piece.

“A narrative suite following the conservation stories of three wild animals and their habitats. Composed in commemoration of the centennial of the National Park Service, the World Premiere of Refuge was given by Cadillac Moon Ensemble on a concert presenting music by members of the Landscape Music Composers Network at the Parrish Art Museum.”

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