Gala Flagello (b. 1994) is a composer, educator, and nonprofit director whose music has been described as “both flesh and spirit, intensely psychological without sacrificing concrete musical enjoyment” (I Care If You Listen). She is the Festival Director and co-founder of the nonprofit contemporary music festival Connecticut Summerfest.
Gala was selected as a 2022 Composition Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School and as a 2022–2023 Composer Fellow at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. She was awarded the Musicians Club of Women Gerts and Hammond Award (First Prize, 2022 Composition Competition) and was recently commissioned by Hub New Music to write The Bird-While, a concerto for Hub New Music and symphonic winds that will be premiered by Michael Haithcock and the University of Michigan Symphony Band in 2023. Other recent commissions include works for the Albany Symphony, the Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Keene State College Concert Band. Recent accolades include first prize in the 2020 Sinta Quartet Composition Competition, the 2020 Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Prize, and the 2021 Composer Residency at Promenade Opera Project (Boston, MA).
Gala is committed to forging ties with performers and educators alike through intricate collaborative projects. Some of these include Educational New Music for Developing Voices (2017), The Contemporary Solo Horn (2018), and the web-premiere event for her wind quintet Matriarch (2020), each supported by the University of Michigan’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment & Leadership (EXCEL) Lab. Her Self-Talk was written in collaboration with Vanguard Reed Quintet who premiered the piece at National Sawdust in 2018 and included it on their debut album, Red Leaf Collection. In 2021, Gala collaborated with choreographer Sean Hoskins on in private public, a work combining her fixed media piece Aleathea with dance footage and live dancers to explore distance, fragility, and perspective.
Gala strives to use music as a vehicle for social change, frequently engaging with topics such as environmental advocacy, gender equity, and mental health in her work. In January 2021, she participated in the Georgia Run-Off Commissioning Project, raising funds for the senate campaigns of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Other recent projects speaking to these issues include commissions from Diversify the Stand; bassoonist Joseph Swift for his project “Room to Breathe”; mezzo-soprano Samantha Williams for her recital “American Patriots” which investigates the concept of the American Dream; and Latitude 49 for their Bagatelles Project in support of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. Gala is a two-time collaborator of DAMET Percussion, writing Precious Metals and Fragile Goods for Natural Beauty, a multimedia touring show that examines humans’ impact on our environment. She and DAMET founder, Danielle Gonzalez, also co-host the podcast Music & Mindset, a series addressing mental health for musicians in the categories of mind, body, and spirit.
Gala is a passionate educator in the classroom, privately, and as a guest lecturer. She is enthusiastic to help students grow a seed of an idea into a full-length piece, examine repertoire from Saint-Georges to Saariaho, and incorporate non-musical elements such as visual art and technology into their work. Gala maintains a private studio of composition students at the high school and collegiate level and served as the Graduate Student Instructor for the courses Creative Composition for Non-Majors and The Business of Music at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She has been engaged as a guest lecturer on composition, orchestration, arts administration, and entrepreneurship at institutions such as Virginia Tech, Heidelberg University, Central Connecticut State University, Marblehead High School and Middle School (MA), the Young Composers Project (CT), and Nonnewaug High School (CT).
Gala holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree from The Hartt School, a Master of Music in Composition degree from the University of Michigan, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded the Dorothy Greenwald Graduate Fellowship. Her major composition teachers include Michael Daugherty, Kristin Kuster, Erik Santos, Evan Chambers, and Robert Carl. Gala’s works are self-published, with select works published by independent, eco-friendly publisher Just a Theory Press.
Gala pronounces her name GAL-uh Flah-JEL-oh.
Gala is proud to be the Festival Director and co-founder of Connecticut Summerfest, a nonprofit contemporary music festival that brings together talented emerging composers with some of the country's most inventive chamber music ensembles for a week of artistic exchange, culminating in nine world premieres each year. Connecticut Summerfest is proud to amplify voices of composers from historically underrepresented groups, specifically gender diverse composers and composers of color, through our Composition Program and concert programming.
Having celebrated its 7th season in June 2022, the festival has:
- Premiered 62 new works
- Engaged 19 composition faculty
- Presented 15 chamber ensembles
Since the founding of Connecticut Summerfest while she was still an undergraduate student at The Hartt School, Gala's love of and experience in arts administration has flourished. She is thrilled to have created a platform for the music of emerging composers while providing opportunities for underrepresented artists.
Learn more about Connecticut Summerfest's 2022 season—including composition faculty Du Yun, Robert Carl, Gilda Lyons, and Evan Williams and ensembles-in-residence Del Sol Quartet, Haven Trio, and NorthStar Duo—on our website.
"On the vital dance between a current composer and conductor" | Interview with Chris Mohr, Aspen Public Radio, and Piotr Waclawik, Conductor
“Composer Spotlight – Gala Flagello” | Interview with Andrey Stolyarov
"Getting to Know Persist with Gala Flagello and David Alan Miller" | Interview with David Alan Miller, Conductor, Albany Symphony
"Episode 16: Gala Flagello" | Interview with Diversify the Stand, Diversify the Stand Podcast
“How to Run a Summer Festival with Connecticut Summerfest Co-Founders Gala Flagello and Aaron Price" | Interview with Thomas Little, The Classical Nerd
Gala's love of teaching began in 2016 with her first residency at a high school music program in Connecticut, giving lectures and masterclasses about music theory, orchestration, and what it means to be a composer today. Her excitement for education blossomed from there, as today she maintains a private studio of composition students at the high school and collegiate level. Gala also served as the Graduate Student Instructor for the courses Creative Composition for Non-Majors (2019–2021) and The Business of Music (2022) at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Gala is enthusiastic to help students grow a seed of an idea into a full-length piece, examine repertoire from Saint-Georges to Saariaho, and incorporate non-musical elements such as visual art and technology into their work. She has guided students through the college admissions process, and has assisted with the preparation of submissions for score calls and competitions.
Interested in joining Gala's private studio? Send her an email.
"I grew immensely as a composer and as a musician in general during my studies with Gala. She brought her insight, experience, and depth of knowledge to each of my lessons with her, and constantly encouraged me to refine and improve both my compositions and my process. I am incredibly grateful for all of the guidance Gala has given me, and I highly recommend her as a teacher."
Composition Student 2019–2020
University of Michigan Bachelor of Music in Composition '24
Gala is an avid reader of books of all genres, articles, and poetry. Here are some titles she's enjoyed lately, in no particular order:
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Keep Going and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa
Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music by Angela Myles Beeching (or anything from her robust blog)
100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula Poundstone
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
How to... Mindfulness Essentials Series by Thich Nhat Hanh
Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrew
Originals by Adam Grant
In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Severance by Ling Ma
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Mooncop by Tom Gauld
The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy
The Last Halloween by Abby Howard
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson