Composer, Who Works with Music, Text, Movement and Film, Is Noted for Work that is Cross Cultural, Cross Genre and Multi-Disciplinary

(Los Angeles, CA, August 9, 2021) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Artistic Advisor Derrick Skye has been honored with the prestigious 2021 Princess Grace Award Honoraria in theater. The composer, who merges music, text, movement, and film, is noted for work that is cross cultural, cross genre, and multi-disciplinary. The Princess Grace Awards support and elevate extraordinary early career artists in theater, dance and film, and nurture the recipients throughout their careers. Skye is one of 18 Princess Grace Award winners and 12 Honoraria recipients selected this year from over 200 nominated candidates who now join the community of over 800 distinguished recipients honored since the inception of the awards.

Skye was nominated for the award by James Darrah, LACO 2020-21 Creative Director of Digital Content, who worked closely with Skye on an episode for LACO’s critically acclaimed digital Close Quarters series that spotlighted the broad scope of Skye’s artistry, including the world premieres of Skye’s LACO-commissioned Mother of Bravery for septet and narrator, featuring him as the narrator, and Mind The Rhythm, performed by Assistant Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav on amplified solo violin with pre-recorded electro-acoustic percussion and electronics by Skye, who also curated and co-directed the episode. Darrah, himself, received the 2009 Princess Grace Award in Theater.

“I’m very humbled to receive this award,” says Skye. “More than anything, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be an artist across several disciplines and be acknowledged for that approach in such a significant way. I’m also incredibly thankful to Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, James Darrah, LACO Creative Advisor Ellen Reid, and LACO Music Director Jaime Martín for being such enthusiastic advocates for multi-disciplinary creativity and collaboration.”

“Derrick is a remarkably talented artist who is brimming with fresh approaches to music and performance,” says LACO Music Director Jaime Martín. “He has made a meaningful impact on LACO as well as the broader cultural community through his inventive multi-disciplinary work. We salute him for this incredible and well deserved honor and know that he will continue to enrich and innovate the arts.”

“I nominated Derrick emphatically for this award due to our incredible partnership in the LACO Close Quarters series,” says Darrah. “I was – and continue to be – completely inspired by his ‘entire’ art. As a result of the boundary-pushing Close Quarters digital platform LACO created during the global pandemic, Derrick was able to showcase and unleash a unique, captivating musical voice and a gracious, progressive spirit as a theater maker and storyteller. Derrick is constantly seeking to illuminate, whether through his curation of artistic teams or the intersection of how a dancer might influence the notes or words on the page of the score. He is essentially re-writing what it means to be a ‘composer’ in a chamber music environment. He’s engaging with people outside of the norms to push boundaries, but it’s at such a personal, core level that it emerges as something entirely new, refreshing, human, and unapologetically, rapturously fierce. Derrick is a generous musical ‘revolutionary,’ and this Princess Grace Award is a wonderful acknowledgment of his singular talent as a key artist who’s bringing new music, orchestral works and opera into theatrical and cinematic spaces in powerful, uncharted new ways.”

Derrick Skye is a composer and musician based in the Los Angeles area who often integrates music practices from different cultural traditions around the world into his work with classical music communities. The Los Angeles Times has described his music as “something to savor” and “enormous fun to listen to.” During his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and the California Institute of the Arts, music across many cultures became an integral part of his musical vocabulary. Skye studied classical music with Ian Krouse, Alex Shapiro, Paul Chihara, Randy Gloss, and David Rosenboom while also studying West African music and dance with Kobla Ladzekpo; Persian music theory with Pirayeh Pourafar and Houman Pourmehdi; Balkan music theory with Tzvetanka Varimezova; and tala (rhythmic cycles) in Hindustani classical music with Swapan Chaudhuri and Aashish Khan. Skye’s music has been commissioned and/or performed by ensembles including Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Cantori New York, Cecilia Chorus New York, Yale Glee Club, University of Oregon, University of Colorado, Boulder, The National Orchestral Institute, Sphinx Virtuosi, Bridge to Everywhere, Los Angeles Electric8, the Salastina Music Society, Lyris Quartet, Super Devoiche (Bulgarian Women’s Choir), and Lian Ensemble (Persian Ensemble). Skye has given pre-concert talks and workshops about the use of non-Western music in his compositions at UCLA, USC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Skirball Cultural Center. He received the New Music USA Award in 2010 and 2011 and was awarded a composer residency with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra through New Music USA’s “Music Alive” program with LACO for the 2015-2016 season. He served as a panelist for the 2019 League of Orchestras Conference, and previously spoke at the 2016 League of Orchestras Conference on the topic of how classical music orchestras can forge stronger relationships with their diverse communities. Skye serves as Artistic Director of the new music collective and arts organization Bridge to Everywhere. Skye is an American who has Ghanaian, Nigerian, British, Irish, and Native American ancestry. His ancestry and identity have led him to claim and develop an “American” aesthetic that incorporates many cultural influences into his work, reflecting the diverse communities of which he is a part. Skye passionately believes in music as a doorway into understanding other cultures and different ways of living. Through learning the music of other cultures, the opportunity for dialogue, rather than conflict, between strangers is opened, and our society can become one with less conflict due to cultural misunderstanding. He is deeply invested in fostering creative and effective collaboration between artists of different disciplines and traditions.

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to upholding the legacy of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, (née Grace Kelly) and elevating extraordinary emerging artists in theater, dance and film through career-advancing grants. Her commitment to advance the arts in the United States is sustained by the Princess Grace Awards which supports and elevates extraordinary early career artists in theater, dance and film through game-changing grants; and nurtures and supports Princess Grace Award winners throughout their careers.


Derrick Skye Princess Grace Award