Full Bio

Margarita Zelenaia is a Russian-born composer, whose music inherited rich traditions of the Russian music culture, and performing pianist.

Her compositions received its Lincoln Center premieres in 1997 and 2005, and its Carnegie Hall premiere in 2001.

Among her recent world premieres were:

piano concerto transcription of the Vivaldi’s “Summer from the “Seasons” for two pianos eight hands (2017), commissioned by the “Pianissimo!”, Chicago based piano quartet (Summit Music Festival, Purchase, NY);

“Fantasy on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade” for four pianos (2015), commissioned and premiered by the “Pianissimo!” (Anne and Howard Gottlieb Hall of the Merit School of Music, Chicago, IL);

“Summer from the Seasons”, piano concerto transcription of the Vivaldi’s “Summer from the “Seasons” for four pianos (2015), commissioned and premiered by the “Pianissimo!” (Anne and Howard Gottlieb Hall of the Merit School of Music, Chicago, IL); Foxtrot/An Orchestra Rehearsal for string orchestra (2015), performed by the North/South Chamber Orchestra with Max Lifchitz, conductor (The Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, New York, USA);

“Meditation” for solo cello (2015) took part at Vox Novus’ the World Premiere of Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: A Minute of Silence (but not soundlessness), performed by Mirel Iancovici at the International Cello Festival in Zutphen, Netherlands;

“I Believe”, Prayer for violin solo and string orchestra (2014), performed by the “Classic”, chamber orchestra by Tatiana Galkina, violin, Maestro Adik Abdurakhmanov, conductor (Concert Hall named by Sergei Prokofiev of the Chelyabinsk Philharmonics, Russia);

“At the Time’s Line” for percussions and piano (2014), commissioned and performed by Dmitri Scholkin and Yuri Polubelov (Concert Hall named by Sergey Rachmaninov, Moscow, Russia);

“Double Variations based on Mussorgsky” (2014) for piano solo, performed by Margarita Zelenaia (Summit Music Festival, Purchase, NY);

“Mussorgsky and Beyond”, double variations for piano solo (2013), performed by Max Lifchitz (the Christ and St. Stephen Church, New York);

the “Lamentation”, for violin solo and strings (2012) , was the winner of the “Donne in Musica” international competition among women-composers all over the world, and was performed by “I Solisti Veneti”, chamber orchestra under the direction of Maestro Claudio Scimone (Auditorium Pollini, Padova, Italy); the following premieres of the “Lamentation” took place in Russia and Kyrgyzstan (2013), and in the US (2014);

“Psalmodia”, an excerpt from the “Byzantine Chants”, sacred concerto, as part of the ‘Music between East and West: Continuity and Change’ concert event at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, was performed by Clive Greensmith, a cellist from the ‘Tokyo String quartet’ with Alan Gampel, pianist;

“The Agony in the Garden” (based on the El Greco’s painting), for viola and piano (2011), commissioned and performed by Eniko Magyar and Timothy End (Derby Chamber Music Society, and St. Mary Virgin church Keele Concerts Society, UK);

“The Lion that Could not Roar”, a music fairy-tale (2010), that was written in collaboration with Robert Sherman, great radio personality from WQXR, and premiered by the “Damocles Piano Trio”, clarinetist Pavel Vinnitsky, and Mr. Sherman as a narrator (Summit Music Festival).

In 2009, her duo “Homage II” (violin & cello) received its world premiere at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Chicago Chamber Musicians’ First Monday concert series and was broadcast live on WFMT Chicago. In 2008, for creation the “Byzantine Chants”, sacred concerto for a Solo Cello Ms. Zelenaia was awarded by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) grants. Then she was invited by Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Director of music of Cathedral of St. Patrick, to be a quest at the radio show “Sounds from the Spires” where Dr. Pascual is a host. One hour program showcased the “Byzantine Chants”.

In 2007, she was a recipient of the “Encore” program grant from the American Composers Forum, and a year later musicians of the New York Philharmonic were performing her works at the Kaplan Penthouse Chamber Music Series at Lincoln Center. Retaining a close relationship with the famed New York orchestra, her string quartet, “August. Sunset Bloom,” was given its world premiere on the Philharmonic Ensembles at Merkin Concert Hall series, receiving both critical and audience acclaim.

Margarita Zelenaia’s works have had the world premieres by the musicians of the New York Philharmonic, the chamber orchestras: the “Bacchanalia”, the “North/South Consonance” (US), “I Solisti Veneti” (Italy), “The Seasons” and the “Classic” (Russia); by the chamber music groups: “One World Symphony Singers & Ensemble”, the “Second Instrumental Unit”, ISSA Sonus Ensemble, neoLIT Ensemble, the “Damocles Trio”; by the renowned soloists such as concert pianists Ana Maria Bottazzi, Max Lifchitz, and Adam Kent (US), Benjamin Kopp (Australia), Paolo Vergari (Italy), Yuri Polubelov (Russia); concert cellists Clive Greensmith (Tokyo String Quartet) and Evangeline Benedetti (New York Philharmonic Symphony orchestra), Andrey Tchekmazov and Maksim Velichkin, Elizabeth Start and Jacob Braun (US), Christophor Miroshnikov (Greece), Mirel Iancovici (Netherlands); soprano Irina Rindzuner and Melanie Mitrano, mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna and Leslie Middlebrook (US), countertenor Andrey Nemzer (Russia), baritone Kreshnik Zhabjaku (Albania), bass Mikhail Svetlov (US); concert violinists Anna Rabinova (New York Philharmonic Symphony orchestra) and Jasmine Lin, Nina Beilina and David Fulmer, Claudia Shauer and Ana Miloslavlevich (US); award-winning clarinetist Sean Rice (US) and percussionist Dmitri Scholkin (Russia), among others.

Her two-act comic opera for children “Winnie the Pooh Once Again”, commissioned by the Moscow State Opera and Ballet Theatre for young audience named after Natalia Sats, has been performed in Russia, Japan, and South Korea, becoming a part of Opera and Ballet Theatre’s standard repertoire for over 15 years. Excerpts from Zelenaia’s musical Alice in Wonderland have sold more than 450,000 copies to date. Lately, she has completed the 2-act opera entitled the “Caligula’s Favorite Play” (libretto by Eric Nicolas and Igor Tsunsky freely inspired by Caligula by Albert Camus © Editions Gallimard) that awaits the world premiere.
Her vocal cycles, art songs, works for chamber ensembles and piano compositions have subsequently been performed at the Moscow Autumn Festival, the Young Peoples’ Arts Festival, the Moscow Spring Festival, the Tutti New Music Festival in Ohio, the New Music North (Canada), the American Composers Alliance Festival (New York), Michigan Sacred Music Festival, and the Summit Music Festival (New York), SummerFest (Pittsburgh, PA), to name a few.

Zelenaia began her piano and composition studies at an early age and by the age of 12 hosted her own musical TV program that was broadcast internationally. She graduated as a composer, musicologist and pianist from the Moscow Conservatory State Musical College, where she received a scholarship from the distinguished Professor of piano Yakov Milstein. Then, she was a recipient of the prestigious State Scholarship at the State Musical Institute named by Gnessin (Moscow), and graduated with honors. She studied composition with the legendary Professor Genrich Litinsky, the former teacher of Aram Khachaturian. Zelenaia became one of the youngest members ever inducted to the prestigious Union of the Composers of the USSR.

She is currently living with in Fort Lee, NJ, where she is an active composer and a sought-after educator.