Riley creates post-classical, metaphorically rich music that is viscerally satisfying and intellectually enriching. As a composer and performer, he creates ambitious and collaborative new works that are innovative and inviting.

As an arts professional, Riley supports forward-thinking performing arts organizations in management, administration, and governance to create artistic experiences of all kinds.



for large string orchestra

A piece where all musicians have their own unique part, One is an orchestra of soloists exploring being one amongst many. 


for piano and electronics

To Shimmer is to reflect a wavering image, to tremolo a fitful aural light, to open up the possibility of some beautiful distance between an object and its image. 


prepared Piano and Percussion Sextet  

A door can be a portal, a series of options, something that keeps you out, keeps you in, a threshold, or something you just have to break down.

 News and Dates 


New work for pianists Sarah Cahill and Regina Myers. Premiere date December 13th, 2020

New work for David Herrera Performance Company. Premiere date TBA 2021

New work for The Violin Project. Premiere date TBA 2022

August 2020 D. Riley Nicholson appointed Executive Director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas

recent past

"Influences" a program of D. Riley Nicholsons past influences, culminating in the premiere of his latest piece, "Without"

"Resurrection" Album Release Party, Center for New Music, January 19th, 6pm.

  • A celebration of the release of D. Riley Nicholson’s latest album “Resurrection of Everyday People” in a special event benefiting RAICES, a non-profit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees. The music was originally commissioned in 2019 by David Herrera Performance Company, and the evening will include an excerpt of the original production performed by dance artist Lacy Gandenberger.

New work for Dance Film SF: music for SF Dance Film Festival Trailer, released in September 2019.

April 11-13, 2019 David Herrera Performance Company premieres a 50 minute new work set to original electronic music by D. Riley Nicholson. Get details and tickets here

April 14, 2019: Amaranth Quartet performs the premiere of Break, Nicholson's latest string quartet alongside a newly expanded version of Bend on their Bend, Bent, Break concert at Center for New Music. Get details and tickets here

Joy? CAPMT commissioned D. Riley Nicholson to write a new work for their annual conference. Joy?, a 15 minute piano quintet, was premiered in Rolando Beach (LA metro area) at the CAPMT conference on October 20, 2018.

HUSH Series: D. Riley Nicholson performs Hans Otte's complete Book of Sounds July 21st, 2018 at the Center for New Music, San Francisco, CA  

D. Riley Nicholson Shimmer Tour: 

  • New York MISE-EN_PLACE; March 20, 2018

Shimmer  -world premiere- January 28 and 29, 2018 at the Center for New Music, San Francisco, CA