Justin Messina

Composer, US

Justin Messina (b. 1980) works with both acoustic and electronic means to create works that explore the expressive nature of sound.  These works range from large orchestral compositions to electronically created sound installations. 
His most recent album Shortwave Artifacts investigates the mysterious nature of radio. Made entirely of radio sounds and music for string ensemble, the album emerged naturally following a decade of working as a dj and producer. His works have been performed at major concert halls in the US and Europe, including Carnegie Hall, Cité de la Musique, Concertgebouw, and Wiener Musikverein.

Learn more: justinmessina.com


When the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to abandon a recording project based on the Mistral, Messina spent his time at Camargo developing a variety of small scale works including a conceptual aleatoric work for solo viola written on the back of the attestations de deplacement paperwork necessary for leaving the house. Inspired by semi-graphic scores of the ars nova and George Crumb, and by the conceptual, text based works of John Cage, Deplacement begins with the free and open instruction to the performer “play something”, and becomes increasingly specific and controlling, resulting in a final page that is dense with instructions.

Taking advantage of the unusual circumstances, Messina also re-evaluated his own relationship with live performance, resulting  is collection of solo keyboard works and several improvisatory film scores for silent animations of Lladislaw Starewicz and Winsor McKay. The piano works are the result of long-standing interest in early music and electro-acoustic keyboard instruments of the 1960s and 70s. The film scores are for prepared electric piano and electronics and are both improvisatory and tightly controlled by the films.

Other projects included the development of a mathematically derived system of establishing loops and patterns of groove in a series of pieces for music box, a electronic work in collaboration with visual artist Golnar Adili based in the poetry of Hafez, and research for both a snare drum quartet and a choral work.

Justin Messina was in residence at the Camargo Foundation in 2020, as part of the Core Program.