Many of the general questions I get asked in interviews are covered in this selection of articles. While I do try to accommodate as many interview requests as possible (especially on work that has not yet been premiered), many of the answers to general questions can be found below.
Please note: If you are a student and are having trouble accessing these articles, please let us know. We would be happy to provide copies for private use only that are not behind paywalls.
This Los Angeles Times feature by Caroline Womack from 2018 about the West Coast premiere of my oratorio This Love Between Us covers my spirituality, a brief personal history, and the overarching themes of the piece, which are pertinent to much of my music.
This article from Musical America by Thomas May from 2017 covers the basis and beginning stages of my Indian/Western classical crossover work, as well as my work between communities.
I was featured on Season 3 of Now Hear This (“New American Voices”) on PBS. You can watch the episode here. Meet my parents and husband, hear some of my work (as well as the amazing work of Sergio Assad) and watch me work with some of my collaborators in real time.
Frame of Mind a podcast by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC profiles my work in a beautiful and pithy way.
I was a guest on the podcast Choralosophy, which covers a wide range of topics relating to vocal music, cross cultural dialogue, social movements et al. A few other podcasts that give a good sense of my work and current thinking are Soundweavers (S2E7) and HearTOGETHER.
Here is the first ever video interview I did, with the Oral History of American Music at Yale in 2011. It is a baseline for where I was as a masters student, before my professional career began. (OHAM did an extensive archival interview in 2023, which is here.)
Resonant Space is a series of short videos I made for composers and young creatives delving into some of the tough moments in the creative process. It’s probably the most personal I get on camera.
Here is a playlist of Student Q&As, which addresses many of the questions students ask me. Look in the descriptions below for questions by timestamp.
Here is my TEDxSkidRow talk from 2012, which covers the beginnings of my cross-cultural work, when I had just come back from my Fulbright in India.
My 2020 commencement address for graduates of The Colburn School in Los Angeles covers some of my own important moments and turning points in my life.
Here is a playlist of pieces that are deeply influential to me, curated for ICIYL List’n Up, with a description of context for each track.
My culminating academic work at Yale was a thesis on collaborative methods Western classical composers have used with Hindustani musicians. It includes an exhaustive history of inclusion of Indian elements in Western classical music through the ages, and a look at the work of many composers working today who use various methods and philosophies in their work. We are working on making it available as a download on the site, but in the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you would like to read it.
Lindsay Pope Gregory’s dissertation “Beyond the Binary: the Intersection of Gender and Cross Cultural Identity in Reena Esmail’s Life and Choral Works” is an in-depth look into my music, and the context in which it exists. This is an incredible document that contextualizes my work better than I ever could, and was the winner of the Herford Prize from ACDA in 2021. Please contact us if you would like to read it.
Here’s mini-doc about our Shastra Summer Collaborative, where we invite Hindustani musicians and Western-trained composers to teach one another their traditions and build new work together.
Here’s a vlog series I did detailing a multi-city tour I did in 2017 — if you are wondering what life might be like as a gigging composer, this is the BTS that shows you what my career was like when it first started picking up steam. It is deeply personal, it really delves into the ups and downs of this work, and I still think it holds true as a slice of life of what it’s like to work in this field, especially in those early years.
My favorite thing to teach is Music Theory 101. Here is the height of my dorkiness, from when I was a teacher at Manhattan School of Music Precollege.