Lisa DeSpain


Lisa DeSpain (Composer) is the winner of the 2018 OPERA AMERICA Discovery Grant for Female Composers and a 2020 NEA Challenge America Award for her jazz/blues opera THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN (Libretto by David Simpatico) and the 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission for STAGGERWING, (libretto by Rachel J. Peters.)

Her opera, SONG OF THE NIGHTINGALE (Libretto by Melisa Tien, commissioned by On Site Opera/Brookfield) has been described as "a graceful, elegantly crafted piece." "a score that was a pleasure because of its modesty and direct communication." (George Grella - New York Classical Review.)

Ms. DeSpain's additional opera works with librettist partner, Rachel J. Peters include MEN I'M NOT MARRIED TO (Cleveland Opera Theatre) based on the writings of Dorothy Parker and NO LADIES IN THE LADY'S BOOK (Utah Opera), published by E.C. Schirmer. Ms. DeSpain is the playwright and composer of the youth musical LIKE I CARE! (Tale of a Middle School Scrooge) addressing issues of bullying in Middle School (lyrics by Sara Wordsworth and Rachel J. Peters.)

Ms. DeSpain was a 2005 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow with lyrics partner Kristen Anderson-Lopez for their musical STORYVILLE, based on the final days of New Orleans' legalized red-light district. 

Her concert works (selected) include the holiday oratorio AMERICAN NATIVITY (New Haven Symphony Orchestra), RISE & FALL, STRING QUARTET No. 1 (Cassatt String Quartet/Buglisi Dance Company), SYMPHONIC JAZZ SUITE for solo piano (Barlow Endowment), and THE BICYCLE SHOPPE and INTO THE REALM OF THE GODS (US Air Force Band of Flight) in honor of the Wright Brothers Centennial. 

She is the choral arranger for Alfred Music translating Broadway hits; HAMILTON, NEXT TO NORMAL, IN THE HEIGHTS, ONCE, SPRING AWAKENING, and more for the choral educational market.

Ms. DeSpain's additional accolades include the ASCAP Commission Honoring the Duke Ellington Centennial, multiple Barlow Endowment Awards, American Composers Forum Continental Harmony Commissions, Aaron Copland Fellowship, Ellis Beauregard Residency, and finalist for the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. 



Lisa DeSpain