Reena Esmail
 

www.reenaesmail.com

Reena Esmail on her stuff.

 
 

Photo by Rachel Garcia

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. 

In recent seasons, Esmail has worked with the Kronos QuartetAlbany SymphonyRiver Oaks Chamber OrchestraSalastina Music SocietySOLI, and American Composers Orchestra. Her work is performed regularly throughout the US and abroad, and has been programmed at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre in London, Schloss Esterhazy in Hungary, and throughout India. She has served as Composer in Residence for Albany Symphony (2016-17), Street Symphony (2016-present) in downtown Los Angeles, Concerts on the Slope (2015-16) in Brooklyn, NY and the Pasadena Master Chorale (2014-16) in Pasadena, CA.

Esmail received a 2011-12 Fulbright-Nehru to study Hindustani music in India, where she was also a 2011 INK Fellow (in association with TED). In 2010, Esmail co-founded of Yale’s Hindi a cappella group, Sur et Veritaal. Esmail’s doctoral thesis, entitled Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in Hindustani and Western Art Musicians explores the methods and challenges of the collaborative process between Hindustani musicians and Western composers. Her teachers include Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Saili Oak.

Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music(MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18). Her primary teachers have included Susan BottiAaron Jay KernisChristopher Theofanidis and Martin BresnickChristopher Rouse and Samuel Adler. She has won numerous awards, including the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and subsequent publication of a work by C.F. Peters) and two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

Esmail was on the composition and theory faculty at Manhattan School of Music Precollege from 2006-2011. She taught the music theory core curriculum at Yale College from 2012-14. Recently, Esmail has worked with young composers through mentorship programs including Shastra’s Arranging with Hindustani Music, Pasadena Master Chorale’s Listening to the Future. This season, she will mentor young women composers through Kaufmann Center’s new program, The Luna Lab.

Recent commissions include: I Rise: Women in Song, for Lehigh University’s women’s chorus and orchestra, a Clarinet Concerto for Hindustani/Western crossover clarinetist Shankar Tucker and Albany Symphony Orchestra (where she was the 2016-17 Composer Fellow), The Light is the Same for Imani Winds, and a new major sacred work, This Love Between Us for chorus, orchestra, sitar and tabla, written for Yale Schola Cantorum and Juilliard 415 which toured India in March 2017. This season’s highlights include new works for Chicago SinfoniettaAlbany Symphony, and violinist Vijay Gupta.

In addition to her work as a composer, Esmail is the Co-Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music that connects the great musical traditions of India and the West. She is also the Composer-in-Residence with Street Symphony, where she works with communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles.

Esmail currently resides in Los Angeles, California.


LISTEN/WATCH

I'm still having waterbug problems... begins at 00:29 and is excerpted again at the close of the episode at 27:22. By the Baker-Barganier Duo, featuring Elizabeth A. Baker and Erich Barganier. 


Serotonin begins at 8:09. Featuring Dawn Pufahl on viola and Elizabeth A. Baker on toy piano.


Tweed Fantasy - Perpetual Dream begins at 17:48.


On The Other Side begins at 22:51. Featuring Dawn Pufahl on viola and Elizabeth A. Baker on toy piano.


I'm still having waterbug problems... is excerpted for a second time at 27:22. See above for track and details.


Purchase

Below is a small selection of music and writing. Visit Elizabeth's online shop for more albums and books.

"An album of works for prepared piano, piano with live electronics, as well as a piece for voice manipulated by electronics."

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"This book is not a collection of poetry. This book is not a collection of essays. This book is selection of musings, or writings to consider, to ruminate upon and perhaps even, to draw questions and conclusions about your own life and psyche. The writings in this book represent the struggle of an artist trying to make sense of the world before them. A world in which, they are less of an active participant and more of an observer. While the works penned in this collection were written by a growing artist in their formative years, there are some universal truths in these pages. It is the hope of the author that all souls who read these pages find comfort within the knowledge that they are not alone in their feelings, and that this might serve as a bright light for those grappling with the balance between the various facets of their being on this plane."

"Toyager: A Toy Piano Method, is the first comprehensive book designed exclusively for toy piano instruction. Beyond the principles of technique and history of toy piano, the book features an introduction to music notation, tactics for effective practicing, as well as strategies for improvisation. Written music theory exercises are paired with solo repertoire and interactive content to enhance the student's experience of the toy piano."