Esmail's work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle, Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, The Elora Festival, Juilliard415, and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Amherst College Choir and Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare.
Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale's 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony's 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence. Previously, she was named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the S & R Foundation's Washington Award. Esmail was also a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. She was the 2012 Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and subsequent publication of a work by C.F. Peters)
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 Botti, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Theofanidis and Martin Bresnick, Christopher 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 Mazundar, 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
She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Violinist Simone Porter has been recognized as an emerging artist of impassioned energy, interpretive integrity, and vibrant communication. In the past few years she has debuted with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and with a number of renowned conductors, including Stéphane Denève, Gustavo Dudamel, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, and Donald Runnicles. Born in 1996, Simone made her professional solo debut at age 10 with the Seattle Symphony and her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London at age 13. In March 2015, Simone was named a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Highlights of Simone’s 2019/20 season include performing Beethoven with the Colorado Symphony, Mendelssohn with New Jersey Symphony, Brahms with the Pacific Symphony, and the Brahms Double Concerto with the Charlotte Symphony. She also tours extensively throughout the US, including concerts with the Wyoming, Arkansas, Santa Rosa, Amarillo, Pasadena, Fairfax, and Midland Symphonies; the Rochester, Westchester, and Greater Bay Philharmonics; and the Sarasota Orchestra and the Northwest Sinfonietta.
At the invitation of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Simone performed his work ‘Lachen verlernt’ (‘Laughing Unlearnt’), at the New York Philharmonic’s “Foreign Bodies,” a multi-sensory celebration of the work of the composer and conductor. In recent seasons, she has also appeared at the Edinburgh Festival performing Barber under the direction of Stéphane Denève, and at the Mostly Mozart Festival performing Mozart under Louis Langrée. She has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl with both Nicholas McGegan and Ludovic Morlot, and at Walt Disney Concert Hall with Gustavo Dudamel. Other orchestras with whom she has appeared in recent seasons include the Detroit, Cincinnati, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Nashville, Utah, and Baltimore Symphonies, and the Minnesota Orchestra. She also made her Ravinia Festival recital debut, her debut at the Grand Teton Music Festival, and multiple solo performances as a guest artist at the Aspen Music Festival.
Internationally, Simone has performed with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra with Gustavo Dudamel; the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira in Rio de Janeiro; the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica; the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong; the Royal Northern Sinfonia; the Milton Keynes City Orchestra in the United Kingdom; and the Opera de Marseilles.
Simone made her Carnegie Zankel Hall debut on the Emmy Award-winning TV show From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall followed in November 2016 by her debut in Stern Auditorium. In June 2016, her featured performance of music from Schindler’s List with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel and members of the American Youth Symphony was broadcast nationally on the TNT Network as part of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams.
Raised in Seattle, Washington, Simone studied with Margaret Pressley as a recipient of the Dorothy Richard Starling Scholarship, and was then admitted into the studio of the renowned pedagogue Robert Lipsett, with whom she studied at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Summer studies have included many years at the Aspen Music Festival, Indiana University’s Summer String Academy, and the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy.
Simone Porter performs on a 1740 Carlo Bergonzi violin made in Cremona Italy on generous loan from The Master’s University, Santa Clarita, California.