Reena Esmail

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Reena Esmail (born 11 February 1983) is an American composer.

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail brings communities together by working between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music.

Esmail has been commissioned to create pieces for ensembles from around the world. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony with the BBC,[1] Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,[2] Santa Fe Desert Chorale,[3] Amherst College Choir and Orchestra,[4] Santa Fe Pro Musica,[5] Conspirare.[6] Previous works have been commissioned by Los Angeles Master Chorale,[7] Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle, Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Juilliard415, and Yale Institute of Sacred Music

Esmail attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in composition from The Juilliard School and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Yale School of Music. Her 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. Choral conductor Lindsay Pope has written a DMA dissertation on Esmail's work, entitled Beyond the Binary: The Intersection of Gender and Cross-Cultural Identity in Reena Esmail's Life and Choral Works.[3]

Esmail is the composer-in-residence at the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Seattle Symphony. She is an Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music collaboration between the music tradition of India and the West.

She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • United States Artist Fellow in Music 2019[8]
  • S&R Foundation Washington Award Grand Prize 2019[9]
  • Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Citizen Artist Fellow 2017-2018[10]
  • Two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (2002, 2007)[11]
  • Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2012[12]
  • INK Fellow 2011[13]
  • Winner in the MTAC-WLA Chamber Music Competition for piano performance[14]
  • Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Scholar 2011-2012[15]


Esmail composes for orchestra, solo instrument, chamber ensemble, and voice. Works include Barso Re (2010) for Yale Sur et Veritaal, Yale's Hindi a cappella organization.[16]


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  8. ^ "United States Artists 2019 Fellow".
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  14. ^ The Instrumentalist, Volume 57, Issues 1-6. Association for the Advancement of Instrumental Music. 2002. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
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  16. ^ "Music". Retrieved 23 October 2010.