Submitted by Dr. Kathryn Hylton
Repertoire and Resources Chair for Upper Voices
“Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces.” www.reenaesmail.com
An engaging piece with a wonderful genesis story, the 2021 publication TāReKiṬa by Reena Esmail is this month’s ACDA-PA #SingNewMusic recommendation. TāReKiṬa was born when Esmail was working with the Urban Voices Project in downtown Los Angeles, a choir comprised of individuals who had recently or were currently experiencing homelessness. In 2016, she had the opportunity to lead a workshop with the singers on Indian rhythms. The choir displayed such curiosity and interest that she decided to write a short piece to help them explore this new way of creating musical sounds. What began as a gift for the Urban Voices Project family is now able to be experienced by the larger musical community through new arrangements for SSAA, TTBB, and SATB choirs (available through Oxford University Press).
At approximately two minutes long, this quick and lively triple meter piece is an excellent introduction into Indian rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic language. Traditional Indian rhythms are combined with onomatopoeic syllables that imitate the Indian drum, the tabla, to create a unique sound world that blends the Indian and Western musical styles. Harmonically, the work is based on the Jog raga (or Raag Jog), a melodic structure that omits the second and sixth scale degrees, but includes what Western music calls the major and minor third, merging the melancholy with the joyful. The composer has provided several resources on her website to help choirs present an authentic performance of the work, including audio/visual pronunciation lessons, program notes, videos of optional hand gestures (called “mudra”) which may help performers engage with the Indian dance tradition, as well as recordings of performances of the work.
Visit Reena Esmail’s website to explore her music for SSAA, TTBB, and SATB choirs and to learn more about her mission to build and bring together communities.
TāReKiṬa resources: https://www.reenaesmail.com/catalog-item/tarekita/.
Interview and genesis story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAITYhQFZmM