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This Love Between Us

Friday, November 10, 2023 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Adult: $39-$59
Student: $17.50
Youth (18 & under): $7.50

Buyers choose their own assigned seats for this presentation at Mechanics Hall.

Mechanics Hall logo
Mechanics Hall logo

Join us for a pre-concert lecture led by violinist Vijay Gupta and composer Reena Esmail, artists-in-residence for this presentation.

7:00PM in Washburn Hall

Music Worcester thanks the following supporters of this presentation:


Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Mass Cultural Council logo


Music Worcester’s 2023 Artist-In-Residence, Vijay Gupta, directs this final public performance of his residency: a breathtaking collaboration of choral, instrumental, and dance ensembles featuring a program of works from composers Reena Esmail and J. S. Bach woven together for an unforgettable evening of music and dance.

In addition to The Worcester Chorus of Music Worcester, this presentation features members of Hartford, CT’s CONCORA choral group, also directed by Chris Shepard. Vijay will also share the stage with members of Kritya Dance Company, created by Kuchipudi dance artist and choreographer Yamini Kalluri.

Joining Vijay for the final week of his residency and this presentation is wife and composer Reena Esmail, who will deliver a joint pre-concert lecture with Vijay at 7:00PM in Washburn Hall, free and open to all ticket holders.  


This Love Between Us

Sinfonia in D Major


Read more about composer Reena Esmail and her works below:

Reena Esmail, composer

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. 

Esmail’s life and music was profiled on Season 3 of PBS Great Performances series Now Hear This, as well as Frame of Mind, a podcast from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Esmail divides her attention evenly between orchestral, chamber and choral work. She has written commissions for ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale,  Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Kronos Quartet, and her music has featured on multiple Grammy-nominated albums, including The Singing Guitar by Conspirare, BRUITS by Imani Winds, and Healing Modes by Brooklyn Rider. Many of her choral works are published by Oxford University Press.

Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2025 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and was Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence. She also holds awards/fellowships from United States Artists, the S&R Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Kennedy Center.

Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music (MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18). Her primary teachers have included Susan BottiAaron Jay KernisChristopher TheofanidisChristopher Rouse and Samuel Adler. She received a Fulbright-Nehru grant to study Hindustani music in India. Her Hindustani music teachers include Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Gaurav Mazumdar, and she currently studies and collaborates with Saili Oak. Her doctoral thesis, entitled Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in Hindustani and Western Art Musicians explores the methods and challenges of the collaborative process between Hindustani musicians and Western composers.

Esmail was Composer-in-Residence for Street Symphony (2016-18) and is currently an Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting music traditions of India and the West.

She currently resides in her hometown of Los Angeles, California.

Program Notes: Tuttaranna

The title of this piece is a conglomeration of two words: the Italian word ‘tutti’, means ‘all’ or ‘everyone’, and the term ‘tarana’ designates a specific Hindustani (North Indian) musical form, whose closest Western counterpart is the ‘scat’ in jazz. Made up of rhythmic syllables, a tarana is the singer’s chance to display agility and dexterity. While a Hindustani tarana is a solo form, I wanted to bring the tarana into an ensemble setting.

Tuttarana was commissioned by the Mount Holyoke College Glee Club for their 2014-15 season, and has since been performed across the US, also in arrangements for SATB and brass quintet.

An addendum: Three years after I wrote this piece, the #metoo movement, created by Tarana Burke broke on social media. It occurred to me that the title of this piece, if read a different way, literally means “We are all Tarana.” I couldn’t believe the incredible coincidence that this work, a powerful 3-minute tidal wave of sound, written for an all-female ensemble from the oldest women’s college in the country, bore this name. I’m so grateful for what this movement has done to move the discussion forward about the horrors we face as women, and how we can begin to change and heal our society.

–Reena Esmail

CLICK HERE to read more on Esmail’s website

Program Notes: This Love Between Us

This Love Between Us is a piece about unity. Its seven movements juxtapose the words of seven major religious traditions of India (Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam), and specifically how each of these traditions approaches the topic of unity, of brotherhood, of being kind to one another. The texts come either straight from canonical religious writings or from poets who write through the lens of their religion. Each text is itself a union: it is set simultaneously in English and in its original language (with the exception of the Christian text, where the Malayalam is a translation), so you can hear the beauty of the original and grasp its meaning through translation. Each movement also contains a unique combination of Indian and Western classical styles, running the continuum from the Christian movement, which is rooted firmly in a baroque style, to the Zoroastrian movement, which is a Hindustani vilambit bandish. Each of the other movements live somewhere in between these two musical cultures in their techniques, styles and forms. But even more than uniting musical practices, this piece unites people from two different musical traditions: a sitar and tabla join the choir and baroque orchestra. Each of the musicians is asked to keep one hand firmly rooted in their own tradition and training, while reaching the other hand outward to greet another musical culture.

This piece is also a union for me. The time I spent studying at both Yale and Juilliard have been the foundation of my career as a Western composer. And my Fulbright year, studying Hindustani music in India opened my ears and mind to the world of Hindustani classical music. One day in late 2015, after months of pleading with embassies, government officials and agencies, I finally lost the battle for the visa I needed to return to India, simply because my grandfather had moved his family to Pakistan in the 1950s. I have never been more heartbroken in my life. The pain of being from two places is that, wherever you are, you always miss the other place. And somehow, as if in answer to my despair, the very next day I received the email asking me to write this piece — the one you will hear today. If it is impossible to be in both places at once, or at all, I have strived every day since then to create this hybrid, united world in my music.

I wrote This Love Between Us through some of the darkest times in our country and in our world. But my mind always returns to the last line of this piece, the words of Rumi, which are repeated like a mantra over affirming phrases from each religion, as they wash over one another: “Concentrate on the Essence. Concentrate on the Light.”

-Reena Esmail

CLICK HERE to learn more on Esmail’s website


Read more about each artist below:

The Worcester Chorus

The Worcester Chorus of Music Worcester has the unique distinction of being one of the most outstanding on-going choral groups in the United States. Founded in 1858 to sing at the first annual Worcester Music Festival in the newly-built Mechanics Hall, the 100-member group includes both amateur and professional singers from Worcester County, northern Connecticut and the Boston area. Its repertoire includes not only choral masterpieces, but also contemporary literature, arrangements of American folk songs, classics from musical theater and commissioned works. Each year the Chorus performs with orchestras and soloists in Mechanics Hall as part of Music Worcester’s main season, including an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. The Worcester Chorus has also made guest appearances throughout the Northeast and overseas.

The Worcester Chorus has appeared with the Hartford Symphony, the American Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center, and the Prague Symphony at Carnegie Hall. The Chorus performed at the 1992 American Choral Directors Association Eastern Division Convention in Boston, and has appeared at the Worcester Music Festival with the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Rochester Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Boston, Baltimore, and Detroit. View other events by the Worcester Chorus.

Artistic Director Dr. Christopher Shepard has been with the Chorus since 2009. Mark Mummert joined the ensemble as Assistant Director in 2019.


Acknowledging that music transforms and enriches people’s lives, CONCORA perpetuates and performs with excellence choral music of the highest quality for the broadest possible audience.

Under the direction of Chris Shepard, Artistic Director, the ensemble’s versatility is displayed in its wide range of repertoire and in the crafting of ensembles from among the choir’s roster of singers.

​CONCORA has been praised as “one of the premier musical forces in the state,” “one of our region’s priceless musical assets,” and “a model of choral artistry.”

Choral music has the power to cross cultural boundaries and to move hearts; CONCORA’s mission to reach a broad and diverse audience extends not only to the choral aficionado, but also to those who may be touched by the beauty of the choral art for the first time.

Vijay Gupta, violin

Vijay Gupta is a violinist, speaker and citizen-artist dedicated to creating spaces of wholeness through music. Vijay’s work embodies his belief that the work of artists and citizens is one: to make a sadhana – a daily practice – of the world we envision. Hailed by The New Yorker as a “visionary violinist…one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music,” Vijay leads a protean career as a thought leader, performer, collaborator and communicator.

Vijay is the founder and Artistic Director of Street Symphony, a community of musicians creating spaces of connection for people in reentry from homelessness, addiction and incarceration in Los Angeles. Vijay is also a co-founder of the Skid Row Arts Alliance, a consortium dedicated to creating art for – and with – the largest homeless community in America. For his work in “bringing beauty, respite, and purpose to those all too often ignored by society”, Vijay was the recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship.

A riveting speaker, Vijay has shared his work with dozens of corporations, campuses, conferences and communities across America over the past 10 years, including The Richmond Forum, The Aspen Institute, Hallmark, Accenture, Mayo Clinic, US Psychiatric Congress, American Planning Association, and the League of American Orchestras, just to name a few. Vijay delivered the 33rd annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy for Americans for the Arts and his 2010 TED Talk, “Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity”, has garnered millions of views.

Vijay has performed as an international recitalist, soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician for over 20 years, playing his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Vijay was a member of the first violin section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 12 years, and has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Yo-Yo Ma, and appears regularly with the Strings Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

A dynamic recording artist, Vijay recently released Breathe, an album of the piano chamber music of Reena Esmail, under his own label. His solo violin album When the Violin, a solo violin album featuring the music of Esmail, J. S. Bach, and Esa-Pekka Salonen will be available on Bandcamp in June 2021. Vijay currently serves as the Senior Artistic and Programs Advisor for Young Musicians Foundation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Marist College, and a Master’s in Music from the Yale School of Music. His principal teachers have included Ani Kavafian and Glenn Dicterow. Vijay plays a 2010 violin made by Los Angeles-based luthier Eric Benning, and can be found on Instagram @guptaviolin.

Kritya Dance Company

Kritya Dance Company founder Yamini Kalluri is a world-class professional Kuchipudi dancer based in New York City where she teaches, performs and trains full time. She offers performances, workshops, intensives and production direction internationally with an aim to bring a new face and a bigger representation to Kuchipudi globally.

Raised in Hyderabad, India, Yamini Kalluri has been celebrated by the New York Times and BBC as being a Kuchipudi sensation. A disciple of legendary guru, Padmasri Dr. Sobha Naidu, Yamini began exhibiting signs of her extraordinary talent and dedication to dance at a very early age. At the age of 12 she not only began performing throughout India but also began teaching at Dr. Sobha Naidu’s School. She went on to complete a certification course in Kuchipudi from Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad with distinctions in 2013 and further refined her style under the mentorship of the renowned Kuchipudi guru Vempati Ravi Shankar. At 18 she began performing internationally at various prestigious festivals, offering workshops in the UK, the US, Russia, Argentina and Canada. A world-class dancer, Yamini is known for her grace, agility and uncompromising perfection. Aiming to bring a new face to Kuchipudi, her ambition and passion led her to move to New York where she now teaches, performs and trains in ballet and modern dance at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary dance full time. In exploring various disciplines of dance and music in the west Yamini has not only developed her own unique style and technique but has also expanded and diversified her dance repertoire by collaborating with many talented musicians.

​Yamini has founded Kritya with the mission to empower up and coming artists to take Kuchipudi to global platforms. Yamini envisions a new school of thought for Kuchipudi with more awareness of the body, mind and soul. She is taking several nuances from ballet and modern dance to find her own technique and bring about a new age of Kuchipudi which is more relevant to a newer and global generation. Vempati Chinnasatyam , Rukmini Devi Arundale, Akram Khan and Shantala Shivalingappa are some of her inspirations when it comes to innovation for evolution. Yamini sees Kritya as a budding conservatory and incubatory for challenging experimentation and also as a means for dancers to immerse themselves to find their truest form of expression.

What is Kuchipudi?

Kuchipudi is one of the nine classical Indian dance styles.

​Kuchipudi is named after the village it was founded and established in called Kuchipudi which is situated in South Indian state, Andhra Pradesh. It was founded by Guru Siddhendra Yogi in the 15th century. Kuchipudi, like other classical dance forms in India, traces its roots to the Sanskrit Natya Shastra, a foundational treatise on the performing arts. Its first complete compilation is dated to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

Kuchipudi is known for its brisk rhythmic patterns and immense grace yet very vigorous movements. Kuchipudi is very grounded in the feet yet again very light when it comes to depicting Lasya (feminine grace) tone. Kuchipudi is known for its flowy and dynamic torso. One of the unique features of Kuchipudi is dancing on a brass plate. The use of a brass plate in kuchipudi has been symbolically viewed as a means of transport for the dancer to a divine destination or higher realm.

Kuchipudi was mainly a dance-drama/opera tradition where it was presented as big cast productions. Then it evolved more into a musical theatre form. But now Kuchipudi has been reshaped mostly into solo dance heavy tradition after imbibing and reviewing many elements from Natya Shastra. For this reason, Kuchipudi wasn’t recognized as a classical dance until recently. It was only practiced by males in the initial period but in the modern era women were introduced to this dance style. Some of the notable contributors to this dance style are Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry, Vempati Chinnasatyam, Yamini Krishnamurthy and Sobha Naidu.

Joyce Tamer, Telegram & Gazette

“The Worcester Chorus is truly a local gem…”

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Friday, November 10, 2023
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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Worcester, Massachusetts 01608
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