Blake Zidell


May 12, 2023

"National Sawdust proved an ideal space for the evening’s body-reverberating drumbeats, sweet, heaven-calling acoustics, narrative-inducing light production, and cinematic proportions — all things that Juliana Huxtable and Tongue in the Mind could have achieved on their own. But something about being left in the dark in the venue’s intimate space, having just a few moments at a time of being suspended in a void of the unknown, recalled the closing of Cavafy’s poem..."

Donna Lee Davidson, I Care If You Listen

May 10, 2023

"On the wall of the National Sawdust arts centre in Brooklyn, a large mural by artists Nick Cave and Bob Faust uses a line from “Hidden Things” as forward-looking agitprop: “Later, in a more perfect society, someone else made just like me is certain to appear and act freely.”"

Peter Aspden, Financial Times

May 4, 2023

"Paola Prestini, the curator of “Archive of Desire,” has brought together a new set of creators for the festival. They have thoughtfully engaged with his writing, resulting in works...that take as their collective point of departure Cavafy’s self-assessment as “an ultramodern poet, a poet of the future generations.”"

Anastasia Tsioulcas, New York Times

May 10, 2022

"This small but crafty performing arts center forms a nexus in Williamsburg between experimental jazz and electronic music, contemporary classical and dance."

New York Times

March 18, 2022

"Arguably the only NYC venue with the technical capability to properly present [Lee "Scratch" Perry and Mouse on Mars' "Spatial...No Problem] was Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, which hosted the tracks’ premiere, presenting them as mixed by Mouse on Mars and then custom-mapped by its director of Sound and Technical Design, Garth MacAleavey, using the venue’s immersive Meyer Sound system."


January 7, 2022

"The Ferus Festival, National Sawdust’s weeklong plunge into experimental storytelling, ricochets between individual and collective experiences."

The New Yorker

December 21, 2021

"Beth Morrison Projects, the estimable Brooklyn-based operatic producer/commissioner, collaborated for the first of two different programmes of songs by her superb stable of composers. Her presenting partner in 21c Liederabend Op Senses was Paola Prestini, the composer and founding artistic director of National Sawdust, the small, innovative performance space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The music was excellent... something of an all-star line-up, and all 11 of the composers on both nights were women. The singers, all recent graduates of the Juilliard School, were equally excellent."

The Financial Times

December 19, 2021

"Brooklyn’s National Sawdust reopens to the realm of the senses...It was an indulgent salon of new songs of nostalgia and reckoning co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects. It would have run the risk of being too busy had the music not been so good and the various indulgences so entertaining. It was a concert that tried too hard and succeeded on all counts."


December 16, 2021

"Since its inception in 2015, National Sawdust has pushed the boundaries of the artistic experience for curators, creators and audiences alike, challenging established compositional and performative power structures and upturning presumed hierarchies of genre and form."

Broadway World

December 16, 2021

"An evening of evocative music inspired imaginative storytelling at 21c Liederabend Op. Senses at National Sawdust (seen Dec. 16). Co-produced and directed by Beth Morrison Projects and Paola Prestini, acclaimed for their work pushing the boundaries of classical performance, the night delivered a contemporary take on the traditional art-song recital. "

Opera News

December 15, 2021

"In 19th century Vienna, a liederabend was an evening of songs – that’s literally what the word means – performed by leading musicians with works by Schubert, Schumann and similar composers. Generally, men. But in 21st century New York, the liederabend series at National Sawdust featured songs by eleven of today’s leading composers, two of them Pulitzer Prize winners, all of them women."

New Sounds

June 22, 2021

"But as we emerge from the pandemic, BMP and Prestini’s National Sawdust (the innovative new music center she co-founded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) are upping the ante with 21c Liederabend, op. Worldwide (digital) ..."

San Francisco Classical Voice

June 22, 2021

"... National Sawdust, a venue known for its pristine sound ..."

The Strad

June 14, 2021

"Founded in 2015, National Sawdust has positioned itself as an incubator for diverse talent that consistently pushes the boundaries of the artistic experience."


March 12, 2021

"... One venue that's continued to offer a wide-range of programming all throughout the pandemic [is] National Sawdust. It's named after the sawdust factory that once occupied its building in Williamsburg. In the before-times, National Sawdust was known for serving as an incubator for up-and-coming performers and composers, and it has broadened its scope and impact on the New York City art scene since March of 2020"


February 9, 2021

"Though Google Maps currently marks Brooklyn’s National Sawdust venue as closed, this fertile ground for artistic exploration is anything but in hibernation. Opened in 2015 thanks to the efforts of attorney and organist Kevin Dolan and composer Paola Prestini, the former sawdust-factory-turned-contemporary-music-haven has just announced its Winter/Spring 2021 season, featuring a cornucopia of creative work from a stylistically rich cohort of composers, choreographers, poets, instrumentalists, dancers, and filmmakers."

I Care If You Listen

November 27, 2020

“[National Sawdust] has for some time been about the liveliest forum in town for new music, located in an old Brooklyn sawdust factory with a welcoming atmosphere, a record label, a fine restaurant and an online journal…”

Financial Times

November 2020

“National Sawdust has become Brooklyn’s new-music nerve centre in the five years since its October 2015 opening, hosting all manners of cross-genre performances, experimental opera stagings, training programmes for young composers and its own record label.”


August 9, 2020

"[Robert Wilson is] a master of combining stunning visuals with ingenious audio in mind-blowing productions that push the boundaries of what theater can be. So he’s a natural choice to take part in National Sawdust’s fourteenth volume of its Digital Discovery Festival, the theme of which is 'Innovation.'"

This Week in New York

July 29, 2020

"NYC-based new music incubator/record label/performance center National Sawdust is weathering the turmoil of the new normal with a robust slate of exclusive online programming. Its ongoing Digital Discovery Festival is a weekly program of live performances and interviews featuring some of the most adventurous players and composers in the field."

The Washington Post

June 22, 2020

"National Sawdust is celebrating Pride by commemorating the history and future of our city’s vibrant community and by celebrating artists who are creating music and theater with an explicitly LGBTQ+ perspective."

Time Out New York

April 21, 2020

"Artists are absorbing the body blow of the COVID-19 shutdown in various ways, but those with institutional affiliations may be better situated. New music and experimental music performers are in the unenviable position of having the least institutional support, but the ones that are out there are rallying round. The standard-bearer here is National Sawdust. Last week, the Brooklyn-based presenter launched the Digital Discovery Series, an online portal consisting of “Discoveries” — 30-minute performances by the group’s usually eclectic artists — and “Masterclasses” featuring established artists, hosted by National Sawdust’s co-founder, artistic director, and best-known composer, Paola Prestini."

"This is an important move in the overall new music system, one that may well survive the crisis. After the initial flood of livestreams and videos, National Sawdust is focusing on how artists can actually get paid enough to survive during this extended period of no work or income."

SF Classical Voice

February 18, 2020

“It’s really exciting for me to be in the National Sawdust space. I feel like they encourage experimentation and I feel like it is a chance for me to add some visual elements that bring a new aspect to the work,” – Shrines [Carrie Erving]

Brooklyn Paper

January 13, 2020

"... I made an afternoon visit to National Sawdust, a vibrant, innovative performance space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to attend a demonstration of the new Constellation and Spacemap systems installed there by Meyer Sound ... Ellison then demonstrated how, using Spacemap, he could move sounds, live (via microphone) or recorded, to any place on any of the walls or ceiling and control the apparent distance of the sound. At first this seemed rather a gimmick, but performances by trumpeter/experimental sound musician Eric Dahlman and multi-instrumentalist/composer/performer Bora Yoon dispelled such concerns. As the two played and sang, voices separated, moved, and coalesced, and the ambiance varied to frame the shifting moods."


November 6, 2019

"National Sawdust’s mission is deeply rooted in music discovery. Their pillars are inclusivity, active mentorship of emerging artists, and building new audiences and communities for the ever evolving, dynamic music scene. The space takes your breath away as its spaceship-like design hides behind the facade of the historical early 20th century sawdust factory."


November 6, 2019

"...cultural mecca National Sawdust."


November, 2019

"The Ferus Festival, National Sawdust’s weeklong plunge into experimental storytelling, ricochets between individual and collective experiences. Two of Sawdust’s artists-in-residence offer deeply personal programs: Lucy Dhegrae, a survivor of sexual assault, contends with how trauma gives way to recovery through haunting pieces by Philippe Leroux and Francis Poulenc; Sonic, who is partially deaf, uses the venue’s new Meyer Sound system to re-create her aural experience."

The New Yorker

October 23, 2019

"With this marvelous National Sawdust Tracks recording, Paul’s Case finds a home amongst the finest recorded opera performances of the Twenty-First Century."

Voix des Arts