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NYWC Spotlight: Leanna Primiani

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight Leanna Primiani.

Leanna Primiani in Her Studio

Leanna Primiani in Her Studio. Photo courtesy Leanna Primiani.

Bio from Leanna Primiani’s website:

Leanna Primiani is an award-winning composer who aims to bring together the collective experiences of the many for greater understanding. Her music asks listeners to consider deep issues and ideas related to the female experience, as she believes that connection and thoughtful participation can catalyze powerful change. Leanna writes music that changes how listeners see themselves and the world around them. Using electronics as well as orchestral instrumentation, she explores the limits of musical form, sound, and time.

Starting out as a conductor, with credits including the National Symphony and LA Opera, she never imagined that composition would take over her life. Leanna channeled her kinesthetic experience of music-making as a conductor into her writing, with her music being championed by Bang On A Can, the Nashville Symphony, the Cabrillo Music Festival, and the Imani Chamber Music Festival in NYC.

Taking her story-telling further, she composes for film and television. Credits include the WIF/Fox Searchlight production of Signal, the feature documentary Altitude Not Attitude, as well as the remake of the cult classic The Bad Seed, directed by and starring Rob Lowe. Variety’s Jon Burlingame calls the music “one of the most remarkable… scores of the past season.” Her training as a classical composer, her fluency with large-scale orchestral scores combined with her talents in electronic sound design gives Leanna an advantage few other composers can boast when scoring film.

Leanna recently won the 2020 Toulmin Commission from the League of American Orchestra and The American Composers Orchestra to compose a work for ROCO in Houston to be premiered in February 2022. Recent premieres include Gaudete by the Wheeling Symphony in December 2020, Glass Ceiling by the St. Olaf Band, OMNI for Reed Trio by Trio 212 New York City, Anxiety for Violin and Electronics in NYC all in May 2021, and Anxiety for Cello and Electronics premiered by Nick Photinos at Bang On A Can at MASS MoCA in July 2021. Most recently, Leanna was a featured composer at the 2021 Taiwan International Flute Festival and a composer-in-residence at The Millay Colony for the Arts in Upstate NY.

Featured Work: “Anxiety” for Cello and Electronics


  • Title: “Anxiety”
  • Composer: Leanna Primiani
  • Year of Composition: 2021
  • Instrumentation: cello and prerecorded electronics
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 7:00
  • Number of Measures: 126
  • Number of pages: 7
  • Tempo: Freely, 76BPM
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: bass, tenor, and treble clefs; glissandos; harmonics; 4/4 and 5/4 time signatures; boxed notation; some extended techniques; performing with a prerecorded electronic “backing” track
  • Publisher: Self-published
  • Where to Purchase the Score: Contact
  • Cost of Score*: $30, which includes the score, electronics track, and practice track


Listen to a recording by the dedicatee, cellist Nick Photinos, and read more about the piece here. Here is another recording by Photinos:

Performance Notes

To be played with the prerecorded electronics track. The work is intended to be played freely with the electronic ‘backing’ track. There is also an additional click track that is included with the score for practice purposes. 

Additional notes from Leanna Primiani:

“I’m thrilled to share this piece with you! It is easy to perform as long as there is a very simple audio playback in the hall. I suggest practicing with the electronics/click track to get the hang of it, and then use the performance-ready electronics track in the hall. Just have someone press play, and you’re good to go! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out!”

Program Notes

“This piece was written as a visceral confrontation between the internal and external world during COVID.  The inner world is represented by the fierce lyricism of the cello, which invokes tropes of solitude, isolation, and rumination; meanwhile, the electronics represent an outer world that entails massive strife.  The cello and electronics interface, but one is left with an unmistakable sense of anxiety, as suggested by the title.  While the cello part is marked in common time, the cello part itself is written to suggest timelessness.  Time weighs heavily in times of great conflict, and this work ⎯ sometimes in the syzygy between the two worlds, and sometimes through the stark differences between the two worlds ⎯ conveys exactly that.” – Leanna Primiani

Leanna Primiani’s Other Work with a Prominent Cello Part

How to Follow, Support, and Contact Leanna Primiani

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.