Alumni Spotlight: Mikeila McQueston

By Cullen Sadler

February 14, 2023

mikeila mcqueston

Recent School of Music graduate Mikeila McQueston, from the studios of Mara Gibson and Lori Bade, has been named a semi-finalist in the 2023 American Prize in Composition for Vocal Chamber Music for her work The Minotaur, which was composed during her time as an LSU student and included in the Constantinides New Music Ensemble's Carnegie Hall performance program in March 2022.

The Minotaur was the beginning of an ongoing collaboration between McQueston and poet Nicole Yackley. This chamber work chronicles the mythical Greek minotaur's experiences in a contemporary “post-labyrinth” life, drawing on the poems “The Bulldozer” and “The Bull Wakes” from Yackley’s poetry compendium Zoo-Keeping and Other Human-Bull Sh*t. Written for soprano voice, violin, cello, clarinet, percussion and piano, The Minotaur was first premiered in 2019 at the Nief-Norf Summer Festival, where McQueston was a composer-performer fellow.


I'm delighted to share that The Minotaur has been named a current semi-finalist in the 2023 American Prize in Composition for vocal chamber music. Many thanks to Nicole Yackley, who graciously allowed me to set her poems "The Bulldozer" and "The Bull Wakes" to music, and to the Constantinides New Music Ensemble for performing this piece at Carnegie Hall last March!

–Mikeila McQueston


Mikeila has been praised for her “most effective” compositions filled with “thought provoking dichotomies” (NY Concert Review; American Prize). In addition to placing second in the American Prize in Composition in both 2021 and 2022, she has won call-for-scores by the Constantinides New Music Ensemble and the LSU Symphonic Winds. Her choral piece I will bless you from Dear World is published through Hal Leonard. Additionally, she is an active vocal performer with “impressive lyrical vocal strength” (Arts Knoxville) who enjoys performing a variety of genres including opera, concert and choral works, art songs, and new music.

McQueston received dual bachelors degrees in composition and vocal performance from LSU, studying under Mara Gibson and Lori Bade. She is currently pursuing dual master's degrees in composition and vocal performance from the University of Tennessee - Knoxville under Andrew Sigler and LSU alumna Kimberly Roberts. Her master's thesis is another collaborative project with Yackey; a two-act opera entitled Horned & Hidden Child.

Learn more about McQueston's work on her portfolio website at the link below.

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