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NYWC March 2024 Spotlight: Nika Leoni

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight composer Nika Leoni.

NYWC Spotlight March 2024

Bio (extracted from Nika Leoni’s website):

Nika Leoni, a renowned Russian-American composer and soprano, is acclaimed for her ability to extract profound musical expression from dramatic contexts. Her versatile compositions span opera, vocal and chamber music, and scoring for theater, dance, and film, highlighted by her operatic soliloquy Euridice broadcast on several public radio stations.

Noteworthy in the cello realm, her piece Prelude in the Steps of Rachmaninov for cello and piano was recently performed at the Festival OSMOSE in Brussels. An award-winning classical singer, Nika has graced stages globally, including prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and Berlin Philharmonie, and garnered top prizes in significant singing competitions.

In addition to her artistic pursuits, Nika is deeply involved in the nonprofit sector, notably co-founding Make Music St. Louis, Inc. and In Her Sound, Inc., promoting music education and women in music. She is currently working on a chamber opera for children, The Secret of the Gold Queen, and planning a new opera based on poet Sara Teasdale’s life. Nika’s contributions extend beyond performance and composition, significantly impacting music education and representation, especially for women in the field.

Featured Work: Prelude for cello and piano


  • Title: Prelude
  • Composer: Nika Leoni
  • Year of Composition: 2023
  • Instrumentation: cello and piano
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 3′
  • Number of Measures: 48
  • Number of pages: full score 11 pages, cello part 3 pages
  • Tempo: various
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: 6th/thumb
  • Techniques Employed: pizzicato; double stops; 4/4, 5/4, 3/4, and 2/4 time signatures; grace notes; 16th-note sextuplets and quarter-, eighth-, and 16th-note triplets; tempo changes
  • Publisher: Self-published
  • Where to Purchase the Score: email the composer
  • Cost of Score*: $9.99


Program Notes

This work was inspired by my thoughts on creating a larger piece, a concerto.  While I composed the “Prelude” for a specific music festival in tribute to the memory of S. Rachmaninov, the thematic narrative for this piece (and for the planned concerto) outlines a struggle between the voice of freedom and restraint, a forbidden nostalgia, and unfulfilled yearning. The Prelude rolls out as a medley of several thematic segments that express these sentiments, and I chose to end it with a segment that leaves us with a vision of hope. – Nika Leoni


A Collaboration with the New York Women Composers (NYWC)

The NYWC series at the Cello Museum was created to showcase its members who have composed various pieces for cello, informing cellists seeking new music to add to their repertoire, and helping listeners find new favorites. Many thanks to the NYWC for this wonderful collaboration.

Read other installments in the series here.

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*Prices are accurate at the time of article publication, but the Cello Museum cannot take responsibility for subsequent price changes.