“As a child growing up in Studio City in the 1980s and 1990s, composer Reena Esmail invented her own religion,” writes Catherine Womack in Saturday’s (11/17) Los Angeles Times. “The only child of two Indian immigrants––a Catholic mother and Muslim father –– Esmail grew up attending Mass…. At home, she watched her devout Muslim grandparents pray multiple times a day…. Esmail continues to define spirituality in her own way … in the music she creates for orchestras and ensembles across the country. That exploration is at the heart of ‘This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity,’ a work Esmail composed two years ago against the backdrop of the divisive 2016 presidential election” and performed last weekend by Los Angeles Master Chorale. “Her message? Unity, we are more alike than we are different. Religion can often divide people, but when Esmail looks at religions, she zeroes in on core truths that unite. For ‘This Love Between Us,’ the composer culled texts from … Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam. At the center of each tradition she sees a call for kindness, for respect…. ‘I’m asking Indian and Western musicians to work together. I want them to feel really comfortable,’ she said.”

Posted November 20, 2018

In photo: Composer Reena Esmail and conductor Mei-Ann Chen at the end of the Chicago Sinfonietta’s “Hear Me Roar” concert of works by women composers, March 2018.