Forward Music Project

By cellist Amanda Gookin, and video and projection designer S. Katy Tucker

Forward Music Project commissions new works for solo cello by today’s most forward-thinking composers that encourage social change and empowerment for women and girls.

Forward Music Project confronts the audience with a visceral experience of music, light, and stories that explore a range of issues facing women today, from the LGBTQ+ to reproductive rights, sexual violence and empowerment.

These works are performed through the lens of solo cello, electronics, projection art by S Katy Tucker, and audio interludes from the composers. In performance, Amanda sings, chants, fights, gasps, and breathes life into these new works.

Forward Music Project 1.0 premiered in the Spring Revolution Festival at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY on March 1, 2017. Forward Music Project 2.0 premiered at National Sawdust on March 22, 2019.

The project has toured to The Kennedy Center’s DIRECT CURRENT Festival and Georgetown University in Washington DC; The Wallis Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA; OK Electric Festival in Tulsa, OK; and Classical:NEXT at De Doelen in Rotterdam, NL.

Composers commissioned:

1.0: Angélica Negrón, Nathalie Joachim, Leila Adu, Jessica Meyer, Allison Loggins-Hull, Amanda Feery, Morgan Krauss

2.0: Paola Prestini, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Shelley Washington, Alex Temple, Kamala Sankaram


Amanda Gookin, Cello

S. Katy Tucker, Video and Projection Designer


With a cello and a cohort of female composers, Amanda Gookin pushes classical forward, LA Times, May 30

Education & Schools’ Workshop Performances

Education, engagement and empowerment are integral to the story of this project. Forward Music Project inspired National Sawdust’s 2019 Student CoLab, the venue’s flagship education program for middle school students at El Puente Beacon Leadership Center and MS50 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which you can read more about here. Over 100 young people enjoyed a workshop performance at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in LA in May 2019.

Further information

For further information about Forward Music Project, please contact Holly Hunter, Director of National Sawdust Projects:

The Artists

Praised for her “delicate and fierce musical approach” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “expert technical work” (The Strad), cellist Amanda Gookin champions the future of music through the creation and bold performance of new works, and a dedication to education, culture, and community engagement. She is the co-founder of the innovative string quartet, PUBLIQuartet, specializing in the performance of new music and improvisation, and serves on the faculty at Mannes School of Music and Purchase College, leading courses on career development and the history of women in music. She has been sought after to speak on activism through music by TEDxMidAtlantic, Houston Public Media Classical Classroom, and I Care If You Listen.

Amanda initiated the Forward Music Project in 2015, commissioning new works for solo cello by today’s most forward-thinking composers that explore the female experience and encourage social change for women and girls. During the 2018-19 season, Amanda is In-Residence at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY and will bring Forward Music workshops and performances to the Kennedy Center Direct Current Festival in Washington, D.C.; The Wallis in Los Angeles, CA; OK Electric Festival in Tulsa, OK; Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and Classical:NEXT in Rotterdam, NL.

S Katy Tucker is a video and production designer based in New York City. Katy began her career as a painter and installation artist, exhibiting her work at a variety of galleries, such as The Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC and Artist’s Space in New York City. In 2003, as her video installations became more “theatrical,” Katy shifted her focus to video and projection design for the stage.

Since 2003, Katy has worked all over the US and world including Broadway, Off-Broadway, The Metropolitan Opera, The Dutch National Opera, The New York City Ballet, Carnegie Hall, The Park Avenue Armory, BAM, Kennedy Center, San Francisco Opera, and more.

Upcoming productions include: Sets and video for HANSEL UND GRETEL at the Canadian Opera Company with Joel Ivany, Sets and video for PARSIFAL at IU Opera Theater, video for Silent Voices at the Kennedy Center and New Vic with Kevin Newbury and FMP 2.0: in your skin with cellist Amanda Gookin at National Sawdust, The Kennedy Center, and the Wallis.

Recent productions include: THE RING CYCLE with Francesca Zambello at San Francisco Opera, INDIGO BALL 2018 at the Park Avenue Armory, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN and FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS at Houston Grand Opera, IRON and COAL with Kevin Newbury and RIGOLETTO at Wolf Trap Opera.

For more information on Katy’s commercial endeavors please visit