Composers Festival spotlight: Paul Mortilla

When Paul Mortilla began his studies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2014, he already had more experience and training as a composer than most undergraduates.

That’s because Mortilla, a Florida native who is one of nine resident composers for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival, actually began writing original music on his own at the precocious age of 11, drawing on a eclectic variety of influences ranging from church hymns to electronic dance music. A couple of years later, he began studying formally with faculty members from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

Mortilla (pictured) went on to earn his BM in music composition at the Jacobs School. receiving several honors while he was there. He won a BMI Student Composer Award in 2016, and also won the Lake George Music Festival Composition Competition. He attended the HighScore music festival and in 2017, was invited to participate in the Tanglewood Music Festival as a composition fellow.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Mortilla subsequently earned a Masters in Music from Yale School of Music. While he was at Yale, his music was performed by ensembles including Callithumpian Consort and Yale Philharmonia, and he coordinated various concerts that premiered all-new works for early instruments. In 2019, his efforts were rewarded with an American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Scholarship.

Mortilla’s composition for the 2021 MICF is called “Rainbow Diamond,” and will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres II” online concert on Saturday, July 31

In another recent premiere, the Albany Symphony’s new music group Dogs of Desire presented the debut performance of Mortilla’s “Transmuting Ether/Quarantine-Dreams.” For some insight into his compositional process, you can watch a video of Mortilla and Albany Symphony Music Director David Alan Miller discussing the work.

You can hear samples of Mortilla’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded video windows below.

“Transmuting Ether/Quarantine-Dreams,” recorded in September 2020 by the Albany Symphony’s new music group Dogs of Desire


“a syntactic harmonicities”