Derrick Skye

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Derrick Skye
Derrick Skye (center) with Salastina Music Society co-directors Kevin Kumar (left) and Maia Jasper White (right) in 2017
Derrick Skye (center) with Salastina Music Society co-directors Kevin Kumar (left) and Maia Jasper White (right) in 2017
Background information
Born (1982-11-19) 19 November 1982 (age 39)
OriginLos Angeles
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, musician, educator
Instrumentstrombone, Ewe percussion
Associated actsBridge to Everywhere

Derrick Skye (born Derrick Spiva Jr; 19 November 1982) is a composer, conductor, musician, and educator based in the Los Angeles area who often integrates musical practices from cultures around the world in his work with classical music communities. The Los Angeles Times has described Skye's music as "something to savor" and "enormous fun to listen to."[1]


Skye is the artistic director of the chamber ensemble and arts organization Bridge to Everywhere. He is also a teaching artist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic[2] and a conductor for the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra[3] and Santa Monica Youth Orchestra. He was the inaugural artist educator for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2018–2020) and is currently Artistic Advisor and Composer for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.[4] Educated at University of California, Los Angeles and California Institute of the Arts, Skye studied classical music as a student of Ian Krouse, Paul Chihara, David Rosenboom and Alex Shapiro, while also studying percussion with Randy Gloss, Persian music theory with Pirayeh Pourafar, Balkan music theory with Tzvetanka Varimezova, tala in Hindustani classical music with Swapan Chaudhuri and West African music and dance with Kobla Ladzekpo. Skye's compositional works often incorporate musical elements from different cultural traditions into contemporary classical music contexts.

His works have been performed and/or commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Electric 8,[5][6] Albany Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra,[7] Lian Ensemble, UCLA Philharmonia,[8] Chapman University Wind Symphony,[9] Superdevoiche (Bulgarian Women's Choir), EXIGENCE,[10] Los Angeles Master Chorale, Lyris Quartet, and Salastina Music Society,[11] Juventas New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Connect, and other groups.

Rhythm and the embodiment of rhythm through movement is an important theme in Skye's works; he has collaborated with choreographers such as Mariel McEwan, Sheetal Gandhi, Cynthia Ling Lee, and synchronized swimming champion and international coach Sue Baross Nesbitt.[12] He has been awarded a residency with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) through New Music USA's "Music Alive" program for LACO's 2015–2016 season[13] and has released two albums, Prisms, Cycles, Leaps (2015) and American Mirror (2018), with Orenda Records.[14] In 2021, Skye was awarded the Prince Grace Honoraria in the Theatre category for his work "Mother of Bravery" with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra[15] and "Best New Composition" in the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for his work "Mind the Rhythm" for violin and electronics.[16]

Skye has given talks, workshops, and pre-concert lectures about his musical practices at the Homeland Cultural Center], Skirball Cultural Center, Royce Hall (UCLA), Alex Theater, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and various other schools and institutions. He was asked to speak at the 2016 annual League of American Orchestras conference in Baltimore on the topic of how classical music orchestras can build stronger relationships with their diverse communities.[17] In 2019, Skye was a panelist for "New Voices: Composers of Today" at the League of American Orchestras conference together with Daniel Bernard Roumain, Alex Temple, Evan Williams, Jennifer Jolley.[18]

During the week of Juneteeth 2021, Skye formally changed his name from Derrick Spiva Jr to Derrick Senam Eugene Skye, which was featured in a Los Angeles Times article.[19] Skye is the son of Artra Howard-Brant, and nephew of Mattina Howard, Sherri Howard and Denean Howard of the Howard Sisters[20] who won gold and silver medals in track and field at the 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1988 (Seoul) Olympic games. His father, Derrick Spiva Sr, is a lecturer at San Francisco State University in Africana Studies. He is married to ethnomusicologist Kim Nguyen Tran.

List of works[edit]


  • 2003 "Lithe Melodies"
  • 2005 "Gaea" Saxophone Concerto
  • 2007 "Vicissitude Variations"
  • 2011 "Our Being Whole"
  • 2014 "Prisms, Cycles, Leaps" (Part I of the Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Suite)
  • 2018 "From Here a Path" (Part II of the Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Suite)
  • 2019 "To Be A Horizon" (Part III of the Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Suite)
  • 2020 "Like Water, Freedom"

Wind ensemble[edit]

  • 2000 "Apollo's Prayer"
  • 2002 "Apollo's Prayer Reprise"
  • 2004 "Seraph's Reflection"
  • 2012 "In Our Hands a Canvas" for Wind Ensemble, Women's Choir, Organ, Electric Guitar.
  • 2020 “CodeSwitch Mixtape” (co-commission with Conor Abbott Brown)


  • 2005 "Posledna Ljubov" (Last Love) for Bulgarian Women's Choir.
  • 2007 "Malka Moma Tsvete Brala" for Bulgarian Women's Choir.
  • 2008 "Prozorets" (The Window) for Bulgarian Women's Choir.
  • 2010 "Tzvetina Dusha, Vahdat, Davam" for Tar, Daf, Persian Vocals, Bulgarian Women's Choir, Ney.
  • 2017 "A Vision Unfolding" (Part I of "Anthems of a Crowd) for SATB choir.
  • 2019 "Ready Bright" (Part IV of "Anthems of a Crowd) for SATB choir.

Small ensemble[edit]

  • 2002 "Miles of Sun" for violin, flute, bassoon, piano.
  • 2003 "3 Queens"* electro-acoustic music sound design.
  • 2003 "September" for flute, oboe, 2 bassoons, marimba, piano, mezzo-soprano, violin, viola, 3 cellos, contrabass.
  • 2003 "Red Dress" for flute, oboe, 2 bassoons, marimba, piano, violin, viola, 3 cellos, contrabass.
  • 2003 "Mother's Day" for flute, Bb clarinet, 2 violins, viola, 3 cellos, contrabass, piano, oboe, soprano saxophone, bassoon, marimba, mezzo-soprano.
  • 2004 "Ciaccona Blue"* for 2 alto saxophones, piano, harp, marimba.
  • 2004 "Ciaccona Red" for soprano saxophone, Bb trumpet, harp, piano.
  • 2004 "Dunes"* for solo trombone and string orchestra.
  • 2004 "Alacrity" for flute, Bb clarinet, 2 tabla, vibes, oboe, bass clarinet, F-horn.
  • 2005 "Crystal Black" for 3 hands piano, trombone, tenor sax, vibes, percussion.
  • 2005 "Curious Dances" for flute, Bb clarinet, harp, bassoon, piano, F-horn.
  • 2005 "Liquescent" for flute, harp, violin, piano, bass, hand clap.
  • 2005 "Vicissitude" for flute, Bb clarinet, harp, 2 violins, 3 violas, 2 solo Bulgarian female voices, harp, bass, 3 cellos, oboe.
  • 2005 "ko-Ig'zist" for flute, harmonium, violin, acoustic guitar, double bass, tambourine, drum set, hand percussion Bb trumpet, rapper.
  • 2005 "Twenty-Seven" for trumpet, piano, tabla, electronics.
  • 2006 "She Cried" for cello, oboe, violin, horn, tampura drone.
  • 2006 "Script 44" for trombone, alto sax, Bb clarinet, drum set, bass.
  • 2006 "Assertion" for brass quintet.
  • 2007 "Atsia Derivare" for Ewe drum orchestra.
  • 2007 "In Silver" for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, violoncello, double bass.
  • 2007 "Red 4" for flute, oboe, Bb clarinet, bassoon.
  • 2008 "The Leaf" for 6 or more flutes.
  • 2012 "Neuron Speak" for Los Angeles Electric 8- electric mandolin, electric baritone guitar, tap guitar, electric bass guitar, and four electric guitars.
  • 2013 "forming-idioms, mental objects" for woodwind quintet, violins, viola, guitar, contrabass, percussion and piano.
  • 2016 "From Here a Path" (Part II of Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Suite) for small chamber ensemble.
  • 2016 "Unveiled this Heart" for small chamber ensemble.
  • 2017 "American Mirror" for string quartet.
  • 2017 "From Here a Path (Revised)" (Part II of Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Suite) for small chamber ensemble.
  • 2020 "Mother of Bravery" for chamber ensemble.

Duets and trios[edit]

  • 2005 "Catena" F-horn, piano.
  • 2006 "We Spoke"* for violin, ney, and vibraphone.
  • 2007 "Dragon" 3 Bb clarinets and tampura.
  • 2008 "Young Orsiris Young Seth" for 2 alto saxophones.
  • 2008 "Orsiris, Seth & Horus" for Bb clarinet, oboe, flute.
  • 2009 "Dies Veneris" for harp trio.
  • 2010 "Quote from a Dream" tar, daf, Persian vocals.
  • 2013 "Granular Waves" for saxophone and piano.
  • 2016 "Crossing" for harp trio.
  • 2020 "Mind the Rhythm" for violin, electronics, and percussion.

Music for choreography[edit]

  • 2005 "Ending After"
  • 2005 "Rebecca's Piece"
  • 2006 "Exertion" for Marshall Dance Company
  • 2006 "Strength" for Eboni Dance Company
  • 2007 "Sara's Parapluie"
  • 2007 "Long for the Beginning" for tabla, cello, tampura.
  • 2009 "Rupture"
  • 2010 "Shapes of Recovery" for Kingsley Irons Trio
  • 2010 "Speaking Voice"* for Ewe drum orchestra
  • 2011 "Imaginary Friends" for
  • 2011 "Sanctuary" for
  • 2011 "Love" Kingsley Irons dance trio for Blankenship Ballet
  • 2011 "Hello?" for
  • 2012 "Morning Light" for
  • 2012 "SuperFine" for
  • 2012 "Grain" duduk, low D tin-whistle, piano. for
  • 2012 "Convergence" for
  • 2012 "I have something to tell you" for In/Ex Dance Project
  • 2013 "Super Ruwaxi: Origins (Revised)" for Cynthia Ling Lee
  • 2013 "Luck, Hope, and Semi-Madness" for In/Ex Dance Project
  • 2015 "I Was Just..." and "In|Expiration" for Sheetal Gandhi and Ulka Mohanty
  • 2017 "Stuck" for Sheetal Gandhi

Music for synchronized swimmers[edit]

  • 2007 "Cottle's Liquescent Crystal" for FoCA (Friends of CalArts) Fundraising Event
  • 2008 "Seven Sins" for Ohio State University Synchronized Swim
  • 2008 "Nesbitt Solo" for Ohio State University Synchronized Swim Team
  • 2010 "Ascension" for Ohio State University Synchronized Swim Team
  • 2011 "Liquescent Crystal 2" for FoCA (Friends of CalArts) Fundraising Event
  • 2013 "From the Dark" solo routine


  • 2007 "Wind Runner"
  • 2007 "Elisabeth"
  • 2007 "Women"
  • 2007 "Unbridle"
  • 2008 "How it all Began"
  • 2008 "Vine"
  • 2009 "The Layabouts"
  • 2009 "Against the Dark Of Night"
  • 2010 "Imaginary"
  • 2016 "The President of Malawi"
  • 2016 "Last Man Standing"
  • 2016 "Parched"


  1. ^ "Rhythmically complex world premiere leads off LACO's new season". Los Angeles Times. 20 September 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ LA Phil (17 September 2012). "Teaching Artists". LA Phil. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra. "Derrick Spiva". Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra. Retrieved 26 November 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Derrick Spiva Jr., Appointed Laco's First Artist Educator". 13 September 2018.
  5. ^ 6 days 2. "Sundays Live at LACMA". Los Angeles Electric 8. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Los Angeles Electric 8". Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  7. ^ kMozart 1260 AM. "Press Release 4/1/2011". kMozart 1260 AM. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  8. ^ "UCLA Department of Music Events". UCLA Department of Music. 1 October 2003. Archived from the original on 11 December 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Chapman University Wind Symphony | Chapman University College of Performing Arts | Chapman Conservatory of Music | Performing Arts". SparkOC. 18 April 2012. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  10. ^ "EXIGENCE: A Vision Unfolding | Chorus America".
  11. ^ "Calendar » Salastina Music Society: 6 Los Angeles Composers ~ June 10, 2016 at 8pm". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  12. ^ "CalArts First FoCA Salon Of The Season". Los Angeles Magazine. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  13. ^ Allan Kozinn (22 October 2014). "Pairing Composers and Orchestras, With an Eye on Younger Audiences". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Artists". Orenda Records. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  15. ^ "2021 Prince Grace Award Winners". Princess Grace Foundation. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  16. ^ Feher, Peter. "Audience Choice Awards 2020-2021: Los Angeles Area Winners". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Leveraging Creative Connections « 2016 Conference, June 9–11 2016". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  18. ^ Temple, Alex. "Where Are the Operas About People Like Me? Imagining a Trans-Inclusive New Music World". I Care If You Listen. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  19. ^ Gelt, Jessica (19 June 2021). "Essential Arts: One composer's personal reflection on Juneteenth". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Archives".

External links[edit]