Maybe you know someone who is musical and wants to start studying composition but doesn’t know how to being.  Or maybe you are that someone.  Do you know about the Juilliard Evening Division?  It’s Juilliard’s extension school that offers open auditions to adult students of all backgrounds.  I teach INTRO TO COMPOSITION, where my students get to learn and practice technical concepts within the context of creative projects, and your pieces get read by amazing Juilliard musicians.  Now that’s how to learn to compose! It’s not expensive either, so don’t be shy.  It can’t hurt to audition.
MORE INFO on the Juilliard website


Pop-up summer residency for Semmelweis Project

The last few weeks I’ve been very fortunate to have my mysterious and ellusive writer collaborator friend Matthew Doherty drop in from Saudi Arabia, where he’s based these days.  Fueled by 6 pounds of dizzyingly superb coffee he brought from his recent travels in Ethiopa, we worked intensely every day on our Semmelweis project.  For the first time ever we were able to work side by side, actually choosing notes and words, rethinking, changing, etc. together in real time (instead of just passing things back and forth by email, or struggling to hear one another on Skype).  Our do-it-yourself summer residency in my studio expanded when my amazing friends soprano Charlotte Mundy and bass-baritone Matthew Curran came by to record some of what we were writing for them.  Having all this creative power in my tiny studio at once was, unfortunately sweltering on a hot summer day, but fortunately incredibly helpful in shaping out the new sound we are crafting for this project.   We also had time to sit down with some directors, designers, producers, and friends of the project.  Exciting.  Stay tuned.

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We did it! Successful RocketHub campaign for LATENCY CANONS recording project

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We did it!  We reached our goal for this first round of funding for the Latency Canons Recording Project!  A huge thank you to all of you who contributed*, emailed friends, posted, tweeted, shared, liked, pinned, spoke well of around the water cooler, or otherwise encouraged us in this very special project.  

We have a ways to go yet to get to the final recording, but this is a terrific start that will really help push the ball forward.  Thank you thank you thank you!

Thank you!

* A hearty thank you to all our RocketHub contributors:

Alice Lustig, Robert N. Downey, Conrad Cummings, Thomas Campbell Jackson and Penny Jackson, Jim O’Brien, Peter Flint, Bryan Hurley and Kerry Grennan, Euginia Paik, Steve Paik, Hooman Mehran, Jim Crystal, Douglas Hepworth, Regina Lustig, Mary E Todd, Bill and Donna Marshall, Ana Berlin, Bill Brown, John Hamilton, Douglas Gibson, Nader Naeymi-Rad, Roy Niederhoffer, Fabio Bertagnolli, Ranjit Prasad, Heidi Jerome, Joshua Komyerov, Audrey Jakab, Mitsuyo Kurihara, David Corsini, Delia Berlin, James Sutton, Brian Meece, Dennis and Anne McGivney, Michael P. Clancy, Melissa Dusenberry, Patricia Calvo, Cheryl Chalmers, Samuel Buggeln, Clifford Hart, Carlynn Houghton and Simon Pratt, Elliot Cole, Ross Jeffcoat, Steven Blier, Matt Gray, Larry Siegel, Josh Ollswang, Catherine Chalmers, Eleanor Taylor, Gregory Gerard, Danielle Steinmann, Larry Lebow, Jayce and Tiffany Bartok, Andy Akiho, Sanae Nakayama, Aleksei Stevens, Lee Streby, MC Harford, Brian Shank, Eric Kuzmuk, Brad Balliett, Kathleen Minogue, Clayton Zeller-Townson, Judy L Gurzynski-Jones, Elena Kowalsky, Richard Gurzynski, Austin Bramwell, Conrad Winslow, John W Lustig, Clarice Assad, Aleem Hossain, Thomas Flippin
Interview with RocketHub for LATENCY CANONS

We’re in the final 20 hours of our LATENCY CANONS Recording Project, and LATENCY CANONS is so extra-specially exciting that RocketHub contacted me for an interview about it, which you can read here.  Find out why everyone is so excited about this project, and why the New York Times finds this piece “…entrancing…surreally beautiful…ecstatic…rapturous.”  And it’s still not too late to become a part of it by contributing or by helping spread the word about LATENCY CANONS.  This is a really big project and we need all the help we can get.  Thank you!

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And please LIKE our Facebook page for this project!



China debut!

This week marks my debut in China.  Duo Noire is going on their debut tour in China and taking along my FIGMENTS.  I wish I were able to go along too!

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Rockethub campaign for LATENCY CANONS recording project

This is my biggest project yet, and I need your help!  It’s a gleaming, gorgeous studio recording we plan to make of my “trans-Atlantic” piece LATENCY CANONS, working with New York’s super-talented Metropolis Ensemble (Grammy-nominated and Juno-award-winning), quartet Senza Misura, and 4-time Grammy-winning producer Tim Martyn. It’s going to be stunning and transcendent!

I would so love to have you be a part of it in any way you can. And here’s a relatively easy way, helping raise a big chunk of the funds through our Rockethub crowdsourcing campaign. Please consider donating whatever you can, and/or passing it along to those you think might be interested.

Foot on the Ground, a house concert

Here’s a photo from the house concert I put together, entitle Foot on the Ground, at the home of friends Thomas Campbell Jackson and Penny Jackson.  Superb musicians William Bender, Mariella HaubsSiwoo Kim, Rachel KudoCharlotte MundyJocelin Pan, and Mina Um.  Great to work with artists who are not only incredibly skilled but also up for experimentation in format, and even game to take on one new arrangement that was literally written that very morning over breakfast, with my 4yo daughter helping me make the parts. Phew!

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WFMT Radio Highlights UNSTUCK for orchestra

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Streaming all this week on WFMT radio Ohio, you can hear me introduce and talk about my Nissim Prize-winning orchestra composition UNSTUCK, written in response to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 and my grandparents’ long battle with progressive dementia. Emily Freeman Brown​ conducts the Bowling Green Philharmonia in an Albany Records recording. Also hear Steven Bryant​’s intense Loose Id, and Avner Dorman’s stunning Variations Without a Theme.

Another nice review for my arrangement of MARKHEIM

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From, on my arrangement of Carlisle Floyd’s MARKHEIM”

“…Floyd’s original orchestration for Markheim is colorful and fluent, with lots of percussion, and arranger Raymond J. Lustig has managed to keep a lot of that. During the performance, I heard a woodblock but saw the percussionist was otherwise engaged. Where was it coming from? Eventually I realized it had cleverly been given to the second viola (though she did look like she’d rather be fiddling)...”

Read more


Nice review for my arrangement of Carlisle Floyd’s gothic thriller MARKHEIM

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I’m so pleased to see how well this went, especially for an opening night review.  This was an incredibly challenging project for me, arranging this massive and complex score for a chamber orchestra of a mere 15 instruments, while protecting the imposing hugeness of the sound and the rich palette of sonic colors, all while making sure the balances work between and among the chamber orchestra and the singers. The whole terrific team came together to create a very powerful show.  Congratulations to Carlisle Floyd and all at LOTNY!

The orchestra, under the quick, exact conducting of Richard Cordova, at times suffered from a lack of consensus over entrances and rhythms. But the chamber arrangement by Raymond J. Lustig was far more successful. Even with Milner’s powerhouse voice, the musical size and texture never felt underdone.”   –  New York Classical Review

See more

Grand Rapids Symphony premieres SUSPENSION

Saturday Oct 4 at 8pm, Inspired by Art, a program of new orchestral works drawing on art and architecture, including the premiere of my latest work SUSPENSION, which is inspired by majestic and mighty bridges of my native New York City.

Growing up in Queens, my psyche formed around New York’s many grand bridges, these mysterious goliaths that are at once splendid yet gritty, mighty yet rust-eaten, silent yet thundering, terrifying yet comforting. Each bridge has its own distinct character, and together they form the skeleton of my dreamscape version of New York, the beautifully dreary, grainy, mysterious, centuries-old nest of so much mobile humanity. Now, from my apartment in northern Manhattan I look out every day over the George Washington Bridge that spans the Hudson River, and I’ve grown to see these architectural marvels—with their miraculous distribution of weight, their mesmerizing lines, and their juxtaposition to their surrounding context—as some of the greatest works of art in my emerald city.

Great review for FIGMENTS

From the new-music blog I CARE IF YOU LISTEN:

“a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique.”

“The impressive technique displayed by Duo Noire is perfectly suited to Lustig’s delicious compositions, and you wouldn’t regret getting a hold of this; if you like acoustic guitar, bluegrass, minimalism, blues—or music at all—you’ll definitely enjoy this excellently produced and mastered album.”

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I Care if you Listen, graphicAnd you can pick up a copy, or digital files, here:

Raymond J. Lustig: Figments
Great time in Seattle

Huge thanks to Mary Mackenzie, Joshua Roman, Karen Kim, David Kaplan, Bill Kalinkos, and Daria Binkowski for a transcendent premiere of my latest piece BEAUTY SPREAD UNEARTHLY WHITE, for Pierrot ensemble with soprano.  It was a thrill to work with this all-star team of musicians, and an honor to share the bill with composers Joshua Roman, Amir Shpilman, Wang Jie, and good old Arnold Schoenberg for an evening of wildly diverse responses to Schoenberg’s avant garde landmark work Pierrot Lunaire.  A huge thanks goes to Seattle Town Hall and their Town Music series, for their adventurous spirit and warm support.

The program was the brainchild of cellist/composer Joshua Roman.  Each of us composers was commissioned to compose a new work that somehow reflected their relationship still-to-this-day radical Pierrot Lunaire.  We knew nothing of each others’ plans and each worked on our own, and it was very neat to see how differently we all responded.  Joshua’s piece sprung from Pierrot’s text and supplanted Schoenberg’s 20th-century infatuation with the Moon with a 21st-century eye to Mars.  Amir’s piece took Pierrot’s extended vocal technique and precision to a stunning 21st-century extreme.  Wang Jie’s piece picked up on the 20th-century sensuality of Pierrot and unleashed it with a very 21st-century vividness in a mini song cycle of her own.  My piece picked up on Schoenberg’s renowned fascination with numbers; its subtitle THREE TO THE SEVENTH is in reference to Schoenberg’s subtitle for Pierrot, Three times Seven Poems from Albert Giraud’s “Pierrot lunaire.”  In my piece, every note emerges from a single three-note cell that is replicated on seven different timescales.  

I really like this kind of programming, the kind that shows how differently we all can see the very same thing.  That is what art does for us, helps us appreciate the differences in our perception.



The whole gang, L to R, Bill Kalinkos, Karen Kim, me, Joshua Roman, Mary Mackenzie, Amir Shpilman, David Kaplan, and Wang Jie.



Composer Amir Shpilman and I getting all over beautiful Seattle.




Quick beer stop.



Post-concert with (L toR) composer Amir Shpilman, the intrepid soprano Mary Mackenzie, and me.





Composers Wang Jie, me, and Amir Shpilman having Alaskan Salmon for lunch at Pike Place Market, Seattle



This week: premiere of BEAUTY SPREAD UNEARTHLY WHITE, Town Hall Seattle

I’m in Seattle this week for the premiere of my recent work BEAUTY SPREAD UNEARTHLY WHITE, commissioned by Town Hall Seattle, for “Pierrot ensemble,” with soprano Mary Mackenzie, cellist Joshua Roman, flutist Daria Binkowski, clarinetist Bill Kalinkos, violinist (doubling viola) Karen Kim, and pianist David Kaplan.  Program includes works by Amir Shpilman, Wang Jie, and Town Music Artistic Director Joshua Roman.

The text for Beauty Spread Unearthly White comes from Walter de la Mare’s poem “Winter,” with its solitary depiction of a fleeting moment of near-perfect light, as day changes to night in a snow-blown landscape.  In response to the cold white perfection, I wanted to give over to my obsessiveness about order and clarity, to compose a piece where every note needed to be related to the greater structure in a very direct way, and to subjugate all musical elements to this single idea.  Like fractal patterns or crystal structures, a single three-note motive is replicated on seven timescales simultaneously; the overall structure therefore exhibits the same relationships as those in the piece’s shortest note values, and everything in between.  My desire in submitting to this rigid process was to mirror the hypnotic clarity and simplicity of de la Mare’s transcendent image.


FIGMENTS commercial release!

My debut solo recording is now out!  At last, all six FIGMENTS for two guitars are available on a gorgeous new EP recording with the extraordinary DUO NOIRE, recorded with master engineer Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, NY, and with a spectacular package design by John Walter Lustig  I am so proud of this recording, honored to have worked with all these gifted artists in putting it all together, and grateful to all my friends, family, and colleagues who have supported and encouraged this project.  Thank you!

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You can hear clips and buy here:

Raymond J. Lustig: Figments

I’m so happy to learn that my brother John Lustig‘s brilliant short film Eye in Tuna Care just won the Animation category at the Très Court International Film Festival in Paris.  Congratulations to John and everyone who worked on the film, including violist Stephanie Block, who played my music hauntingly.  As a surprise they flew in one of the film’s stars, the eyeball man, to present him with the award (um, they had someone come onstage in an eyeball man costume).

For those not in Paris, it’s also screening at the IFC Center in New York on Monday, May 5 at 8pm, and in other cities worldwide, as part of the same festival.

Check out the trailer here (and LIKE IT ON FACEBOOK)

Eye in Tuna Care – trailer from john walter lustig on Vimeo.

Travel report: Barcelona and Montserrat

Just back from a trip to Barcelona with my family, where we went for much-needed R&R and inspiration (and the exquisite nourishment Barcelona is famous for). We were most excited to see all the Guadí works, and didn’t get nearly to all of them. The monumental cathedral of Sagrada Familia is mind-blowing, and I didn’t even bother taking pictures because they could do no justice, but here is a place where you can find plenty of pictures that also do no justice to the astounding amazingness of Sagrada Familia.

I did snap some pictures in the fantastic museum in the basement, that detailed what excited me most, the geometry behind the strange shapes:

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We also spent time in the amazing Park Guelle.  A mystical place.  I mean, look at this.

I did grab a few entirely insufficient shots of Gaudi’s amazing Casa Batlló:

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Totally tourists, at the Park Guell:



Our home away from home in Barcelona.  Upstairs from Joanet, where lunch is both homey and to die for at the same time:



The mysticism of Barcelona has a lot to do with its natural setting. Franciscan monks were drawn to the unearthly mountain landscapes surrounding the city to build Montserrat and other monasteries.  And the whole region is swarming with pilgrims who hike and climb in these strange and mysterious mountains.IMG_9303