Mission & History


Composers Now empowers all living composers, celebrates the diversity of their voices and honors the significance of their artistic contributions to the cultural fabric of society.


Founder and artistic director Tania León leads the organization since 2010. Composers Now features a broad spectrum of performances in concert halls, jazz mobiles, opera stages, experimental spaces, conservatories, museums and other musical venues. Symphony Space served as an incubator for the development of the Composers Now Festival. The Fund for the City of New York invited Composers Now to become a project partner in 2013. Composers Now became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in May 2019.

The Composers Now Festival

The Festival brings together performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestra, opera, musical theater and dance companies as well as many other innovative events through New York City. Composers are in attendance at all events which are open to the public. From jazz to indie, from classical to electronic and beyond, join us on a sonic journey through the landscape of the arts of our time.

The Dialogues initiative

Dialogues is an innovative new initiative comprised of inspiring performances, thought-provoking conversations and stimulating exchanges of ideas between composers, performers and audiences. Occurring in each borough of New York City, Dialogues is a series of five events that will focus on a different theme each year. The theme for the inaugural year is "The impact of the arts in our society."

The Presenter Partners Initiative

Composers Now announces a collaborative initiative with presenters across the five boroughs of New York City to generate greater visibility for living composers throughout the year.

The Commissioning & Mentorship Initiatives


Cheswatyr Commissions was created and produced by Composers Now with underwriting from the Cheswatyr Foundation. The award commemorates Cece Wasserman and foregrounds her legacy of empowering living composers in substantive ways. Cece was a passionate arts philanthropist and untiring advocate for the composers of our time. Under her leadership, the Foundation commissioned works from a stellar list of composers including Missy Mazzoli, Arlene Sierra and Julia Wolfe.

First Commission

First Commission awards young composers with support aimed at encouraging artistic potential and creative development. Pre-college-aged composers from notable New York music programs are nominated and reviewed by a jury. Selected composers receive a Composers Now commission and world premiere at the Composers Now Festival Opening Event.

Second Stage

Second Stage is a commissioning, mentoring and professional development initiative designed at the invitation of and with underwriting from the Toulmin Foundation. Second Stage provides an in-depth experience for creators that culminates with a concert of world premieres in New York City. The Mentors are selected by Composers Now for their creativity, backgrounds, artistic practices, work as educators and extra-musical skill sets to inspire the young composers. In addition to a set of meetings between mentor and composer during the writing process, the young composers will meet with professionals within and from aligned fields to expand their knowledge.


Composers Now is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All gifts will be acknowledged and are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Composers Now proudly acknowledges the support of our funders:

WQXR is a media sponsor of Composers Now
Alice M. Ditson
Fund of Columbia University
The Amphion Foundation
The DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund
Michael Minard and Phyllis Ross
Newburgh Institute for the Arts and Ideas
Alexander Sanger
The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
The Witherspoon Fund

Former Partner Project of FCNY

"Composers Now will give New Yorkers across the five boroughs a significant opportunity to experience the rich and diverse contributions of composers to the cultural life of the city," says Mary McCormick, President of the Fund for the City of New York. "We are happy to provide this innovative organization with the administrative resources and energy it needs to fully realize its mission."

The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. For over three decades, in partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond.