Paul Novak

Paul Novak
Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: interdisciplinary music, miniature forms, 20th century Japanese music
Education: BM, Rice University

Rejecting grandiose narratives, the music of Paul Novak (b. 1998) is driven by a love of small things: miniature forms, delicate soundscapes, and condensed ideas. His compositions, which explore the subtleties of instrumental color and draw influence from literature, art, and poetry, have been performed throughout the United States and abroad. His recent collaborators include the Austin Symphony, Orlando Symphony, Reno Philharmonic, NYO-USA, American Composers Orchestra, the Amaranth and Rosco Quartets, NUNC Ensemble, Blackbox Ensemble, and LIGAMENT. 

Novak was recently selected as the recipient of the 2020 Underwood Commission for a new orchestral work that the American Composers Orchestra will premiere in Carnegie Hall, and he has also received commissions from Kinetic Ensemble, ASCAP and Society of Composers, Inc., Boston New Music Initiative, and Texas New Music Ensemble, among others. His music has been selected for numerous awards, most recently from the ASCAP Foundation, Tribeca New Music, Webster University, Texas Young Composer Competition, and YoungArts Foundation. In 2016, Novak was selected as one of two composers to participate in the first-ever NYO-USA Composer Apprenticeship Program. He has participated in residencies and festivals at Bowdoin Music Festival, New Music on the Point, Fresh Inc Festival, MATA Jr. Festival, and others.

Collaboration is at the center of Novak’s creative practice, and in recent years his projects have frequently included interdisciplinary elements. In 2018, he organized Synesthesia, a project that paired 5 Rice composers with writers and poets and culminated in a performance of 5 new collaborative works. He has worked on interdisciplinary projects with Rice Dance Theatre, spoken word poet Ming Li Wu, poet Erica Cheung, and the Bowdoin Museum.

Originally from Reno, NV, Novak recently graduated from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and began his PhD at the University of Chicago in the fall of 2020.