Since 2010, Reena’s musical work has broadened its focus, to include the exploration of Hindustani (North Indian) Classical music. She has worked with Indian artists including Hindustani singers Mosami Shah and Priya Kanungo, and Carnatic vocalist Shobana Raghavan, and participated in a workshop with the eminent Hindustani singer, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty. Her most recent studies have been with the late Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Saili Oak Kalyanpur, in Los Angeles, CA.
Reena was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship, and lived in New Delhi, India, for the 2011-2012 academic year, where she studied Hindustani Classical music with Gaurav Mazumdar, while exploring the integration of Indian and Western elements in her own concert music.
Her Fulbright year blog is available at:http://reenainindia.wordpress.com
During her time in India, Reena took part in performances at the India Habitat Centre, Siri Fort with the Neemrana Music Foundation, and at the German Embassy in Delhi. She also spoke about her music at a number of conferences and events, including AdAsia 2011, INK Salon – Chennai, The Kings School in Goa, the INK Conference (in association with TED) in Jaipur, and the Fulbright Conference, in Cochin, Kerala. She was also interviewed on 94.3 Radio One, PragyaTV, and her work was covered in numerous print media articles.
Some of Reena’s representative works in this genre are her String Quartet (Ragamala), a commission from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival which was premiered by the FLUX Quartet in July 2013, as well as Teen Murti (तीन मुर्ति) for string orchestra, which is based on the String Quartet), commissioned and premiered by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in September 2013). Both these pieces offer a flavor of a variety of different raags, as well as an insight into Hindustani rhythmic and melodic techniques set into the string medium.
Another recent work is Jhula Jhule (झूला झूले), for violin and piano, which was commissioned by the MuSE Ensemble in New York and premiered in March 2013, which has since been transcribed and performed in oboe and trumpet versions as well. Jhula Jhule is based on two folk songs passed down from her own grandparents. Her work Vishwas (विशवास), commissioned by Albany Symphony’s chamber orchestra, Dogs of Desire, included a collaboration with bharatanatyam dancer Sisira Gorthala, and is essentially a bharatanatyam ballet which tells a portion of the story of Meera Bai, a 16th-century saint-poet from ancient India. Her earlier work, Aria, is scored for Hindustani Vocalist, Meena Shivaram and the Yale Philharmonia, and was premiered in December 2010, and is currently in the process of being published by C.F. Peters. Reena’s first work that incorporated Hindustani elements was her Piano Quintet, a commission from the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2010.
In addition to her concert music, Reena has worked on two Indian films: Kali Juger Kumbh, a feature length Bengali-language art film by Ashish Avikunthak, and Radha, a short film by director Rupeshi Shah. She also scored a short advertisement for Indiaspora, which explores a lighter version of her collaborative style. She was one of the founding members of Sur et Veritaal, Yale’s Hindi A Cappella group in 2010, and served as the group’s conductor for its first season. She has also done a number of arrangements of popular Bollywood songs and mashups for the group. Her arrangement of Ghanana Ghanana / Chaiyya Chaiyya / Hips Don’t Lie was performed for Shah Rukh Khan on his visit to Yale in 2012.
Since returning to the US, Reena has spoken about her work to a variety of audiences. She was a speaker at TEDxSkidRow 2013, and was invtied to participate in the inaugural forum of Indiaspora in September 2012. She has also written a longform article for New Music Box about the culture of Hindustani concert music, and will explore this topic further as their guest blogger for October 2014.
Currently, Reena is doing her doctoral work in composition at the Yale School of Music. Her doctoral thesis, entitled “Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in works for Hindustani and Western Art Musicians” explored the methods and challenges of collaboration between Hindustani musicians and Western composers.
Reena is the Co-Artistic Director of Shastra, an organization that showcases musicians creating meaningful work that connects the musical traditions of India and the West.