Composer Juhi Bansal brings together themes celebrating musical and cultural diversity by drawing upon her traditions as an Indian composer raised in Hong Kong. Her work draws from music including Hindustani, progressive metal, and choral traditions that tells stories about women whose stories are rarely told. “Two of the themes I always love to write about are strong women and celebration of different cultures.” Her work has been performed worldwide including commissions from LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Beth Morrison Projects, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, AIDS Quilt Songbook 20th Anniversary project and more.
Celebrating strong women is a common theme in Juhi’s work. “There are so many unknown women from different countries and cultures who have done incredible things, but are hardly spoken about.” Building on that interest, her latest work for Prototype’s 2021 season is inspired by the story of The Bangladesh Surf Girls and Boys. “I found the stories of the young girls themselves incredibly powerful, and have really enjoyed bringing in elements from my Indian childhood and culture along with more traditional operatic elements to tell part of their story.” Drawing inspiration from the young surfers, the work is about making choices, the conflict of cultures, and finding courage within yourself to create change.
Early this year Juhi wrote a new piece for LA Opera’s Eurydice Found Festival. We Look to the Stars, is a reflection on human experiences through the stories of various cultures. The performance of the cantata brought together youth and adult community performers, alongside professionals, in a production that Juhi lists among her proudest accomplishments. Working together with multiple performers and organizations is part of the collaborative process that Juhi truly enjoys. “As long as we’re all excited about the story we’re telling and invested in making it happen as effectively as we can - both in sharing creative ideas and adapting to logistical constraints - I feel like that makes for satisfying collaboration.”
Not only a composer, Juhi is also a conductor having earned fellowships by the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, the Atlantic Music Center, Seasons Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium, and the Pacific Music Festival. She is currently on the music faculties of the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and Pasadena City College.
Connect with Juhi and learn more about her work on her website, https://juhibansal.com/.