Cincinnati May Festival to receive a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA Grant will Support 25 New Choral Works to be Commissioned for 25 Tri-State Area Choruses

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CINCINNATI, OH (January 11, 2023)—The Cincinnati May Festival has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grant for Arts Projects award of $20,000 to support its 25 for 25: A New Time for Choral Music Commissioning Project. The project is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awarded by the NEA.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with the May Festival strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

In honor of the May Festival’s commissioning legacy and in celebration of Cincinnati as one of America’s choral epicenters, the May Festival’s 25 for 25: A New Time for Choral Music commissioning project has engaged with composers from Luna Composition Lab to write 25 new choral works for local artist and choral ensembles across Greater Cincinnati.

Founded in 2016 by composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, Luna Composition Lab provides mentorship, education, and resources for young female, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming composers ages 13-18. The only initiative of its kind in the United States, it has achieved national recognition as a program that not only celebrates underrepresented voices but also shapes music’s future by providing a support system for continued success.

“This is the largest commissioning initiative that we’ve been a part of as Luna Lab, and the first professional commission offered to all of our alums. We are excited to see the work of our alumni and our composers performed in this prestigious environment. Every composition, no matter what level it’s at, is always a learning experience. This will be a great experience for our fellows that will set them on a track to have long, meaningful, and fruitful careers,” said Reid.

“We are thrilled that the May Festival’s 25 for 25 choral music commissioning project has been selected to receive a grant award from the NEA,” said May Festival Executive Director Steven Sunderman. “As we celebrate 150 years of the May Festival this spring, we look forward to the future of choral music and to the premieres of these exciting new works written by talented composers of the Luna Composition Lab.”

The new works will be premiered by local choral ensembles throughout the region in Spring 2023. Participating local artist, ensembles and composers in the May Festival’s 25 for 25: A New Time for Choral Music commissioning project include:


Local Artist/Ensemble


Cincinnati Boychoir

Gabriella Cariddo

Cincinnati Camerata

Madeline Cheng

Cincinnati Choral Academy

Violet Barnum

Cincinnati Men’s Chorus

Caleb Palka

Cincinnati Youth Choir

Ebun Oguntola

CinKoa: Cincinnati Korean Choir

Yuri Lee

Classical Roots Community Chorus

Jordan Millar

Hear Us, Hear Them

Rachel Mugemancuro

Heri et Hodie

Azalea Twining

Little Miami Chorale

KiMani Bridges

May Festival Youth Chorus

Olivia Bennett

MUSE: Cincinnati Women’s Choir

Anya Lagman

No Promises Vocal Band

Cecelia Olszewski

Northern Kentucky Community Chorus

Sage Shurman

Northern Kentucky University Chamber Choir

Chloe Villamayor

School for the Creative and Performing Arts Chorale and Concert Choir

Abby Harris

St. Ursula Academy Vocal Ensemble

Jack Gjaja

Thomas More University Choir

Elisa Johnson

Tron and World House Choir

Michelle David

University of Cincinnati College-
Conservatory of Music Chorale

Zola Saadi-Klein

Ursuline Academy Choir

Devon Lee

Voices of Indiana

Alicia Erlandson

World House Choir and
Jeremy Winston Chorale

Tiffany Cuaresma

Xavier University Choir

Maya Miro Johnson

Young Professionals Choral Collective

Joanna McDonald


Individual artist and chorus premiere details can be found at In addition, the May Festival will present a free Community Choral Showcase on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at Christ Church Cathedral, which will include 21 of the commissioned pieces from the project. More information on the project’s composers and performances can be found at