top of page

Composer-Librettist Studio

From June 3 through June 18 in Washington DC, we conducted in our first full Composer-Librettist Studio since our inaugural studio in 1994, which seeded our company. The University of the District of Columbia Music Program hosted the Studio.

A major national training program, these “studios” have been hosted regularly since 1984 in NYC, Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Chicago among other music centers. It debuted in DC in 1994 under the joint auspices of the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and American University. From that initial group of 15 trainees, Alliance for New Music-Theatre was founded. The company has been invited to accept the mantle for carrying the program forward in this region.


The Composer-Librettist Studio is designed as an intensive workshop for professional artists that demands a commitment of all participants for two and a half weeks. Designed and led by Ben Krywosz, Artistic Director of Nautilus Theater, the Studio provides an opportunity for five writers and five composers to work with five professional performers, exploring the possibilities and basic elements of music-theater. The Studio focuses on the process of collaboration through a series of brief exploratory assignments for the writers and composers. The exercises are then sight-read by the performers in brief working sessions. The participants rotate partners, and the process is repeated four more times. Within the two and half week period, all composers work with all writers and all performers. Toward the end of the studio, an informal reading of all the compositions is held.


 All participants are carefully selected to represent diversity of experience, ages, cultural backgrounds, and styles of music and textual expression. All participants receive an honorarium.

Some writers may have had no previous experience of writing for music-theater per se, but all are stretched out of their comfort zone and challenged to be risk-takers, even pushing the envelope of what music-theater can be. 

Some of the writers who are alums of the Composer-Librettist Studio program include Eric Overmeyer, David Ives, Kira Obolensky, Kelley Rourke, José Cruz Gonzáles, Nilo Cruz, and Caridad Svich.  Composers have included Paul Dresher, Ricky Ian Gordon, Mary Ellen Childs, and O-Lan Jones.

One participant commented “If I had been part of the original CLS in 1994, I would have been a better writer and collaborator. It has changed my life.”

Another offered “I never realized I’d learn these things and absorb so many great concepts.”

Performers shared “I have gone from being simply a singer to a performer and storyteller. You don’t learn this in other conventional programs and conservatories… It was a magical experience.”

All participants emerged with a renewed commitment to the craft, as well as the confidence of a committed network of sustaining supporters, energized and well equipped to advance the field of New Music-Theater.

“This studio wonderfully destroyed my preconceptions of all art, entertainment, and storytelling,” summarized one participant, “The tools [I learned here]. were craft-changing for me.”





 All participants are given a stipend to participate and are expected to participate in all session.

This is a Full-time commitment 

Successful participants are eager to collaborate and be stretched out of their comfort zone.

If you are interested to participate in this Studio next June in 2024, we are glad to answer any questions you may have. Just email us at

bottom of page