For Young Composers

Under the guidance of Composer Mentor Reena Esmail, Sounds Promising composition students write a world premiere for a chamber ensemble consisting of students their own age and Salastina professionals. Their piece is workshopped prior to being publicly performed and professionally recorded.  

Private Lessons with Composer Mentors Derrick Spiva and Reena Esmail

From December through April, young composer participants in Sounds Promising receive 9 lessons split between two remarkable, passionate composers and educators.

Reena Esmail's integration of Western and Hindustani musical traditions leads to beautiful, personal, and timely self-expression that is quickly earning her international renown. In recent seasons, Reena has worked with such chamber ensembles as the Kronos Quartet and the Salastina Music Society. Her work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre in London, Schloss Esterhazy in Hungary, and throughout India. Recently, her oratorio “This Love Between Us” was performed by the LA Master Chorale in Disney Hall. Reena is a graduate of the Juilliard School, and a recipient of the Yale School of Music’s prestigious Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition. She is also the recipient of a Fulbright grant to India. She currently serves on the Board of New Music USA, and is Street Symphony’s Composer in Residence. Read a recent profile of Reena in the LA Times here.

Derrick Spiva Jr. passionately believes in music as a doorway into understanding other cultures and different ways of living. The Los Angeles Times has described his music as “something to savor” and “enormous fun to listen to.” In 2018, Derrick became the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s first resident Artist Educator. He serves as Artistic Director of Bridge to Everywhere, a new music collective and arts organization. Along with Reena, he is the co-founder of the Code Switch Composers Collective, a community of classical composers who often engage with the musical language of two or more musical traditions in their compositions and music practices. He has given pre-concert talks for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber orchestra. He has also given talks and workshops at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Skirball Cultural Center, UCLA, USC, and the League of American Orchestras Conference. Derrick is a graduate of both CalArts and UCLA. He is the recipient of the New Music USA Award in both 2010 and 2011.

Workshopping your music

What do you say to musicians to get them to play the music that's in your head? Sounds Promising gives student composers hands-on experience interacting with performers.

From March to April, each student composer receives three opportunities to workshop their piece with the ensemble performing it. More often than not, a few professional performers are also playing inside the group itself. Either way, Reena, Derrick, and Salastina musicians are on hand to coach both the young composer and the young performers through these readings and rehearsals. 



Public Performance and Professional Recording

Want to share the stage with composers like Andrew Norman, Julia Adolphe, Reena, Derrick, and many more?

Once your piece has been written, rehearsed, and coached, it will be performed on our annual Sounds Local concert, which celebrates the best music coming from LA-based composers today. 

Afterwards, you'll receive a professional recording of the concert for your personal use — from school, scholarship, or award applications to promotional material.



Tuition for student composers is $900. Need-based scholarships are available.