Reena Esmail

United States Artists recently announced its 2019 class of Fellows, with Reena Esmail, an accomplished Indian American composer, among those honored. She will receive a $50,000 cash award. (reenaesmail.com photo)

Indian American composer Reena Esmail, who fuses the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, is among 45 artists and collectives working across disciplines who have been honored by United States Artists, an organization which illuminates the value of artists to American society and addresses their economic challenges.

The Pasadena-Calif.-based artist is among United States Artists’ 2019 Fellows who will each receive an unrestricted $50,000 cash award.

The 2019 USA Fellows range in age from their 20s through their 70s, hail from 20 states across urban, suburban, and rural communities, each making significant contributions to their respective fields as architects, ceramicists, choreographers, filmmakers, podcasters, composers, playwrights, weavers, sculptors, journalists, and more.

Spanning creative disciplines, USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all stages of their careers, working across the country, through a rigorous nomination and panel selection process, the organization explained. The entirely unrestricted Fellowships, it added, encourage artists to use the funds for whatever they need, be it “housing, medical expenses, debt reduction, their artistic practice, or a much-needed vacation.”

Esmail’s work is performed regularly throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has been programmed at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre in London, Schloss Esterhazy in Hungary, and throughout India.

According to her bio on her official website, Esmail has served as Composer in Residence for the Albany Symphony (2016-17); the Street Symphony (2016-present) in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.; Concerts on the Slope (2015-16) in Brooklyn, New York, and the Pasadena Master Chorale (2014-16) in Pasadena, Calif.

Esmail received a 2011-12 Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship to study Hindustani music in India, where she was also a 2011 INK Fellow (in association with TED).

She has worked with the Kronos Quartet, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Salastina Music Society, and the American Composers Orchestra.

Her recent commissions, added her bio, 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; and “The Light is the Same” for Imani Winds, the Grammy-nominated quintet.

Esmail, who has won numerous awards, including the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

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