numu-promo.pngWelcome to New Music Festival 2024! Join us in the UTSA Recital Hall from March 04-07 to enjoy a week of new music compositions by contemporary composers! 

This year's distinguished composer is Indian-American artist, Reena Esmail. NMF 2024 will also showcase works by the winners of the UTSA Call for Scores composition contest, featuring works by Jackson Bosenbark, Zachary Cook, Brandon Davis, Klint Fabian, Manuel Flores, Tom Hardaway, Aidan Ramos, and Jared Worman. 

Kicking off NMF is our Maestría Faculty Concert series with Dr. Oswaldo Zapata (trumpet) and Dr. Kassandra Keeling (piano). Other concerts include UTSA Chamber Ensembles, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Concert Choir, University Chorus, and Chamber Singers.


New Music Festival 2024 Schedule

Monday, March 04, 7:30 p.m.Maestría Faculty Concert: Oswaldo Zapata and Kassandra Keeling

Tuesday, March 05, 7:30 p.m. – UTSA Chamber Music Concert

Wednesday, March 06, 7:30 p.m. – UTSA Wind Symphony & Symphonic Band

Thursday, March 07, 7:30 p.m. – UTSA Choirs

2024's Distinguished Guest Artist


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.

Faculty Artists

zapata-ozzy.jpegOswaldo Zapata currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Brass Area Coordinator at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Dr. Zapata previously taught at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) in Laredo, TX, where he was the Assistant Professor of Music - Trumpet and Director of Mariachi. He is originally from Caldas, Antioquia, Colombia (near Medellín), where he began his musical training by playing the trumpet in the town band.

He has performed with the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, Piccolo Spoleto Festival Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, among others. He has appeared as a soloist with the UTSA Orchestra, TAMIU Symphonic Band, TAMIU Chamber Orchestra, University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Additional ensemble experience includes Latin ensembles, brass quintet, brass ensemble, and trumpet ensemble.

Dr. Zapata has studied trumpet under Professors David Hickman, James Ackley, Allen Vizzutti, and Fernando Parra. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance with an Emphasis in Instrumental Pedagogy from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, a Certificate of Graduate Study in Music Performance and a Master of Music in Trumpet Performance from the University of South Carolina, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) in Trumpet Performance from Arizona State University. While at ASU, he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant for both the mariachi program and the trumpet studio.

keeling-kasandra.jpgKasandra Keeling is currently Professor of Music, Acting Associate Director of the School of Music, and Keyboard Area Coordinator at UTSA. She teaches undergraduate and graduate applied piano, as well as applied piano literature. Dr. Keeling received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from the University of Houston and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her major teachers have included Janice Hodges, Nancy Weems, Alvin Chow, and Larry Graham.

Dr. Keeling is active as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestra soloist, and master class clinician with appearances across the United States, Mexico, at the Royal Conservatory in Canada, and in China at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Conservatory of Music at Nanjing Normal University. She has also given multiple performances or performance-related presentations at state and national conferences, including those for the Music Teachers National Association, the American String Teachers Association, the National Flute Association, the International Trumpet Guild, and the College Music Society. In 2014, she was awarded first prize in the professional concerto division of The American Prize for her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and in 2015, was honored with the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Performance at UTSA.

Her students are active as well, garnering performance and academic awards for their various achievements. Under her instruction, her past students have been top prizewinners at competitions such as the Corpus Christi Young Artist Competition, the national level of the MTNA Young Artist Competition, the TMTA Young Artist Performance Contests, and several other regional and local contests. Her students at UTSA have been featured soloists with the UTSA and other regional orchestras and many have been accepted to top graduate programs at prestigious music schools across the nation. In 2008, Dr. Keeling was awarded the Outstanding Collegiate Teaching Award by the Texas Music Teachers Association, in 2017 she was named a Steinway Top Teacher, and in 2023 she was inducted into the Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Dr. Keeling joined the summer piano faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. She also served several years as the Director of the Summer Music Institute for Piano and Strings held at UTSA. She is the co-advisor for UTSA’s Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Chapter and has served on the executive boards of the Texas Music Teachers Association, the San Antonio Music Teachers Association, and was a founding board member of the Alliance Music Teachers Association of San Antonio.

Faculty Composer

yee-thomas.jpgSome composers found their love of music at the symphony hearing Brahms or Beethoven — Thomas B. Yee (b. 1992) discovered his from the beeps and boops of the family Super Nintendo. As a composer, his artistic mission is to transmute meaningful human stories into immersive, transformative musical works. Thomas' music of Holocaust remembrance synthesizes his fierce commitment to musical meaning with a passion to spotlight acts of racial injustice throughout history and the world. Similarly, his research in music semiotics and ludomusicology explores the creation and interpretation of music as a meaningful, communicative, and quintessentially human activity.

Thomas' opera Eva and the Angel of Death presents the powerful story of Holocaust survivor and educator Eva Mozes Kor, and will premiere starring Page Stephens in Austin, TX. His work has been performed by the NOW Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-En, Density512, Hear No Evil, Indiana University Symphonic Band, University of Texas at Austin New Music Ensemble, Kansas State University Percussion Ensemble, and Mary Pickford Ensemble; honored as a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, ISCM World Music Days, and winner of the Hear No Evil and Voices of Change Composition Competitions; and received grants from the Austin Cultural Arts Division, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, and Friends of Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. His scholarship has appeared in the United States and internationally in journals, conferences, and a forthcoming monograph on musical meaning in video game soundtracks. His musical mentors include Donald Grantham and Nina C. Young in composition, Robert Hatten in music theory, and Jerry Junkin in conducting. Thomas completed his DMA at the University of Texas at Austin and is Lecturer of Music Theory at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Student Composers

Wind SymphonyOverture No. 1 by Aidan RamosSuddenly the Lighted Living Hills by Jared WormanSymphonic BandPteropod Terrors by Brandon DavisMarch in G by Manuel FloresChamber SingersNunc Dimittis by Tom HardawayConcert ChoirFirst Love by Klint FabianChamber EnsembleWhen the Beat's Bumpin' and the Wine Hits by Zachary CookPortraits of a Fisherman by Jackson Bosenbark