Samuel Siskind, Composer, Performer and Actor

Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind is a young sixteen-year-old composer, vocal performer and actor from Los Angeles. As a resident of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program (LA Phil Composer Fellowship Program), he is currently in his second year of high school in Los Angeles. In addition to his already large compositional works, which he had the opportunity to present in the world’s largest halls such as Carnegie Hall, Royce Hall or the University of California, in February, at the invitation of the artistic director of the prestigious ensemble “The Golden Bridge” Suzi Digby, his work was performed at All Saints Church in Beverly Hills. The biography of this artist is enriched by the experience of filming in Hollywood, when Matthew Wilder recorded several of his pieces in the studio “Capitol Records”. Samuel’s choral piece The Forest was selected for performance on the National Children’s Choir’s major tour of Asia. The versatility of this young artist is also reflected in his unusual sports activities and hobbies. In addition to skiing and sailing, Samuel is currently working on getting his license to fly small planes.

As a six-month-old baby, you were introduced to music, which led you to write your first composition at the age of eight, and at the age of twelve, choral work The Forest, was performed by the National Children’s Chorus in their major U.S. cities and summer tour of Asia. What are your memories of those beginnings and encounters with composing? What prompted you to choose composing and vocal performance?

I was fortunate to be introduced to the piano through a creative method my dad found at our local farmers market. It’s called Simply Music, and the first series for young children introduces various musical concepts through drawing pictures and playing out feelings on the keyboard. I remember doing my homework for this class. I was about five, and we were given a story theme to draw with crayons. Then we put the picture up on the piano, and played that picture… the curriculum was called Play-A-Story. I already had a childhood filled with imaginative play, so once I learned how to play my feelings it was addictive, and composing became my go to pastime. When I played repertoire, whether alone or in public places, I often modified and expounded on pieces to make them more interesting, and bring them alive. Vocal performance came naturally, as I sought more music education than my school’s singing class. My parents found the National Children’s Chorus (NCC), and I auditioned at the end of 2nd grade, and began in the fall of 3rd grade.

Besides your piece The Forest being performed by the National Children’s Chorus, certain pieces of yours caught the attention of producer Matthew Wilder, who recorded those pieces at the iconic Hollywood studio Capitol Records. What is it like to be part of the Hollywood world? What are your memories from that recording session?

Recording at Capital was one of the most meaningful days of my life. Matthew had booked the musicians and studio time at Capitol well in advance. However the week of the recording session, Disney Studios urgently needed a score recorded. Several of the musicians on my piece were called to work on the Disney project. Every one of them decided to stick with me. At such a young age, seeing so many people believe in and trust me, inspired me to work harder.

Many composers have their role models when it comes to designing a piece and rely on the melodies of Bach, Mozart, Chopin… Do you have a role model? During the work process, do you find inspiration in the works of classical music composers or some other genre?

Listening to classical radio, I was exposed to many of the great classical composers at a young age. Singing with the choir only expanded my repertoire into great vocal pieces of the Western European traditions. I’m always finding and listening to new music, often driven by upcoming projects and performances.

During your performances, not only is your composition performed, but you also sing. What fulfills you more at the moment – singing or composing?

The day my choral piece, The Forest, was introduced to my peers at the NCC, I was truly beside myself, very uncomfortable and unsure of how it would be received. My relief wouldn’t come for a few weeks, until they had mastered the song, and I could see that my friends were enjoying singing it. Standing on stage and hearing their joy in singing melodies and text that I worked on after school for years was simply exhilarating. It made me feel that what was personal to me could be universal, and their reaction to it as my first audience was the greatest gift. Last month, I had a commissioned piece performed by professional vocalists at The Golden Bridge Concert, in Beverly Hills. I also found it very nerve wracking to be at the live premier performance with an audience, but I felt a thousand times better once I received the recording. It was very fulfilling. I also put a lot of work into my vocals, and enjoy performing in front of audiences. I’m looking forward to performing in the Tinker of Tivoli in Vail this August, and touring the UK this Summer before recording a Christmas album with the National Children’s Chorus at Abbey Roads Studios in London.

In what genre do you see yourself as a composer, would you like to do film, jazz music or do you still prefer a traditional classical style?

Because my early introduction to playing and composing music was so fluid, I don’t feel bound by styles. I have used jazz influences in a number of my concert pieces. I first explored these themes as a study of Gershwin and Copeland in my 3 movement piece, Piano Concerto for Orchestra (2021). I also use some jazz in my new choral cycle, Release (2022). I am purely driven by creative impulses of what sounds most interesting or moving. I am a film lover, as my dad works in the business, and we’ve done weekly home screenings since I was 3 years old. At this point, I am taking my composing work as it comes. Whatever projects come to me I will happily adapt.

What subject or area in the school you attend most inspires you and helps form your compositional taste and style?

One of the first things I learned from my composing mentor, Dr. Ian Krouse, is that composing is like writing a story, you’re taking the audience on a journey. Of course this goes back to my first piano class, and Play-A-Story. I was fortunate to have an outstanding English teacher at Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences, Julian Laurent, and I invited him to the premier of my recent choral premier because I felt so indebted to him for teaching me the discipline and structure of writing. He is also a musician. Modern history has also been an inspiration for me as I do my pieces, especially studying the eras when many of the composers I admire were working. When I experience a new piece to perform, I often like to know the circumstances around the time it was written. Most composers have many other interests outside of music, because writing music comes from experiencing life.

Samuel giving notes to the choir

When writing a piece for a choral ensemble, what is the biggest challenge for you in the process of working and writing the score?

When writing a choral piece, I find the hardest aspect, creating an original text. Although once I have an idea, I can write my texts in one brief sitting. Discovering the idea can be very challenging, and requires weeks of research and thought.

Samuel with his mentors Drs. Ian Krouse and Pamela Blackstone hearing his piece “Out from the Deep” for the first time

The last commission of your work came from the vocal ensemble “The Golden Bridge” and its artistic director Suzi Digby, making you the youngest composer to receive a commission. How would you describe the process of working and composing that choral piece? What inspired you the most?

The commission by The Golden Bridge was the next leap in building my abilities to write, and collaborate. I never dwelled on the fact that I was so much younger than the previous composers, I just tried to do my best. However, because I was so young, I had to be very disciplined to reward their faith in me.

Samuel with the Golden Bridge Choir and Suzi Digby, Artistic Director, Founder and Conductor.

Your versatility can also be seen in your many hobbies and activities, such as skiing and sailing, and you are due to get your private pilot’s license soon – where does that adventurous spirit come from? Why did you want a pilot’s license specifically?

Most people find their hobbies through being exposed to them. As a teenager, my older brother was a CIT sailing instructor for UCLA summer camp. He had a small boat, and would enjoy taking me around the marina as a boy. My dad took us to the Rocky Mountains every February so I learned to ski. My mom used to take me to eat sushi at the Santa Monica Airport, and watch the planes come and go after school sometimes. I love aviation, and always have. I hope that one day I might have the means to own a small aircraft to fly myself.

Considering your unusual hobby and sporting activities, can art and composing be compared to flying an airplane or sailing? Do you find any commonality in what helps you feel free and fulfilled?

Listening to a great piece of music should make you feel like you’re flying or sailing on an ocean – or freestyling down a mountain. The creativity in plotting your next move is akin to the joy composing brings me. The possibilities are infinite, and the satisfaction in carving out a path where there wasn’t one before is a true high.

What does composing music in general mean to you, how do you perceive it and in what direction would you like to develop your interests and abilities?

Composing music feels like my playground. Music is a language that everyone can understand, and appreciate – so I feel I’m working on something worthwhile. I have been composing music for so long that I literally don’t know what I would do without it. It’s very second nature to me, and makes me feel happy; like the world is ok. When I look back on pieces I’ve written a couple years ago, I feel embarrassed. I’ve learned so much, but that’s the nature of growing up, and continuing to learn. I feel honored every time anyone hears my music or is interested in my music.

Author: Katarina Georgijević


The MERITA project, whose name is derived from the words Music – cultural hERItage – TAlent, aims to improve access and participation in cultural activities, both in larger and smaller towns, promoting European cultural heritage, while strengthening the connection between online and offline engagement, enters a decisive phase. After 61 applications from 27 countries that arrived on the MERITA digital platform, the names of 38 quartets chosen to become part of an innovative European project that aims to encourage the discovery of new places that will not only overcome geographical boundaries but also conceptual, cognitive and artistic ones, have been announced. The quartets consist of young people with an average age of between 28 and 29, among whom there are 91 women and 61 men, and they come from all over Europe (Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom, Poland, Serbia, Finland, Greece).

This project, although still young and at the beginning of its implementation, attracted a lot of attention. This is evidenced by the large number of applications from chamber ensembles, which recognized a new, unusual approach to art and the presentation of young artists. The organizers claim that the word “quartet” is taken as a metaphor for an ideal society, a meeting place of different cultures, which through mutual dialogue builds beauty, taste aesthetics and a lasting artistic bond. In addition to the possibility of live performances, MERITA provides another very important source of information and another gathering place, which is the already mentioned digital platform. It aims to contribute to the building of mutual cooperation, as well as to the improvement of culture and identity.

Francesca Moncada Fondatrice e Presidente de Le Dimore del Quartetto
Photo © Diego Molaschi

In this regard, Francesca Moncada, founder and president of the “Le Dimore del Quartetto” network and the board of the Comitato AMUR, presents this project in the following words: “MERITA is the crowning of a European dream, music as a universal language capable of giving new life to places and spaces waiting to be rediscovered. A dialogue between cultures, arts, communities and territories for the creation of a circular economy and sustainable culture to support simple and proximity-based tourismAll this is MERITA and much more, with this project wins beauty for all.”

With the idea of being a “promotional showcase for artists”, this platform will bring classical music and European heritage sites of cultural interest closer to a new audience. Francesca Moncada goes on to say: “These formations of outstanding young musicians represent a vibrant and intercultural Europe, rooted in tradition and capable of moving towards an innovative and multisensory future. Each quartet is sacred and MERITA will give us the opportunity to discover how this diverse formation of collective intelligence can ignite places and people”.

Undoubtedly, this project has awakened many young artists and united chamber ensembles, making them through acquaintance, togetherness, building contacts, as well as artistic creation prove that art as such is equal for everyone and accessible to everyone. By performing the works of timeless composers in old settings, which preserve the centuries-old tradition, they now gain a new meaning and become fresh with the new spirit of youth, beauty of sound and modernity.

Tommaso Sacchi Assessore alla Cultura del Comune di Milano
Photo ©Alessandra Cinquemani

The Councillor for Culture of the municipality of Milano Tommaso Sacchi also speaks about this: “Le Dimore del Quartetto continues its goal of supporting and spreading musical culture, with a project of European scope, capable of strengthening the ties between the many different cultures that make it up. It is a project that not only promotes the circulation and expansion of string quartets, but also supports the activity of young artists, helping to strengthen in them, under the guise of music, that sense of identity that unites all European culture.”

Simone Gramaglia_Direttore artistico de Le Dimore del Quartetto
Simone Gramaglia Direttore artistico de Le Dimore del Quartetto

The artistic director of the “Le Dimore del Quartetto” network, Simone Gramaglia, says about the MERITA project that it “combines tradition and innovation in a concrete way. Wonderful 38 selected young quartets will have the opportunity to perform, to be heard, supported and above all to express themselves on the international level. Their message and their voice will be able to leave an important mark in the world of music through a strong network that combines passion, vision, determination to create a better future through beauty.” In this regard, it can be said that this project is a chance for young people to present themselves to the world, but also to push their own boundaries by becoming new, more mature people, with the potential to transfer their experiences to some new generations. This already paves a long-term path towards artistic growth and preparation for some new and better times, in which traditional values will be preserved, nurtured and improved together with youth.

You can find out more about the selected ensembles, as well as the further realization of the MERITA project, on its official website:

Author: Katarina Georgijević

Translation: Jelena Čolović

Petar Pejčić, cellist

Petar Pejčić
photo: © Clara Evens

This twenty-one-year-old cellist attracted the attention of the world public by entering the final and winning fifth place at one of the most prestigious competitions – “Queen Elisabeth” in Brussels. The artist captivates with extraordinary talent, clear, precise movements of the bow, in harmony with his body, like a ballet dancer, a piercing and refined sound and above all, an authentic and natural expression on stage, which leaves no one indifferent. Coming from a musical family, he started playing the cello at the age of four, which today is his life’s vocation and faithful companion. Apart from the fact that many people in Serbia know about him as the winner of the “Art Link Société Générale” prize and recognition for the most promising young musician in 2018 and the winner of the first and special prizes at the Republic Competition in Serbia in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, they remember him for his great successes in the world, as well. Among his numerous recognitions are the special prizes of the company AENA at the renowned competition “Pablo Casals” in Spain, the second prize at the International Competition “Anna Kull” in Austria, the third place at the “Felix Mendelssohn” competition, as well as the fifth place at the “Queen Elisabeth” competition, where among 66 candidates he entered the final with 12 participants. He also shows his versatility through collaboration with Jacopo Godani and ballet dancers in contemporary theater projects. Since 2017, he has been studying in Leipzig at the University of Music and Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in the class of Professor Peter Bruns.

The String Circle – the first network that nurtures the craft and construction of string instruments

Stefano Trabucchi_Laboratorio

With the desire to improve the professionalism of master luthiers of string instruments and to provide quality instruments to young performers at the beginning of their careers, the creative cultural enterprise from Milan (Italy) Le Dimore del Quartetto, which has been supporting international string quartets and chamber ensembles since 2015, came up with a new project. It was realized in cooperation with the “Antonio Stradivari” Violin Museum Foundation (Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari) and is called “The String Circle”. This network aims to nurture the collective elements of artistic creation and musical performance, with a special emphasis on the development of the combination of the work of artisans and musicians, in a dynamic where one creates the conditions for the full expressiveness of the other and vice versa. With this, the creators of the project want to show how the technical skill of the craftsman is actually a necessary condition for the artistic creativity of a performer to reach its peak.

European support project for young musicians MUSA – free handbook for new generations of artists

Due to the challenges of today, which require from musicians, in addition to good performing skills, entrepreneurial competence, which is crucial for the development of a career, realizing that this kind of guidance and training is almost completely absent in the general curriculum, the MUSA project allows young artists to get to become familiar with new skills. Believing that management, communication, knowing the potential of crossing different artistic disciplines, production, distribution, physical and mental training are necessary skills to turn passion into a profession – MUSA wants to improve the professional prospects of young European string quartets, to provide organizations dealing with this field with a new training proposal and strengthen the link between music and other artistic disciplines and cultural heritage in search of real employment, economic and social development.

Thanks to the innovative MUSA project (MUSA – European Young MUsicians Soft Skills Alliance – the term “soft skills” implies a combination of skills, abilities: communication, interpersonal, social, work under stress, etc.), which is co-financed by the “Erasmus” program of the European Union, professional training dedicated to young string quartets, with members from 20 to 35 years old. During the month of October 2022, the cultural organization “Le Dimore del Quartetto”, which supports international young string quartets and chamber ensembles, presented its achievements in Brussels after the completion of all three parts of the MUSA project. On this occasion, the Research Center ASK (Art, Science, Knowledge) of the Bocconi University in Milan presents a new tool and a free handbook for higher education programs in cultural entrepreneurship for young musicians entitled “The Entrepreneurial String Quartet: Key Learnings from the MUSA Project” and Research – Case study on Le Dimore del Quartetto. This handbook will be available to musicians, professionals, academies and conservatories to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of those who wish to pursue artistic careers in music in our century.

The MUSA program lasted two years, starting in October 2020 until October 2022 and, involving nine string quartets from France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain and the Netherlands, developed in three phases. During the first phase in Italy in September 2021, the implementers dealt with communication and image strategy. The second phase in Portugal during October 2021 focused on “contamination” among different arts. Finally, the third phase took place in France in May 2022 and focused on copyright, recording and distribution, as well as physical and mental preparation.

These activities were an opportunity for young string quartets, selected by project partners, under the artistic direction of maestro Simone Gramaglia, to deepen their knowledge of the music market and learn how to be their own entrepreneurs. Among other things, the idea was implemented by hosting the quartets in each country, and through an artistic residency in historical villas and other places of cultural interest, during the one-week stay, the musicians attended lectures, workshops and performed at concerts, thanks to which they were able to learn to apply in practice, in front of the audience. Francesca Moncada, the founder and president of the “Le Dimore del Quartetto” organization, also spoke about the importance of this project: “MUSA is the concrete realization of a key career tool for this new generation of musicians taking the first steps of their careers in a transformed landscape that demands new skills”. As a cultural entrepreneur, founder, president and director of the organization “Le Dimore del Quartetto” and the AMUR committee, after experience in advertising agencies (Mc Cann Erickson, B&B Comunication), since 2003 she has dedicated herself to supporting non-profit goals for cultural and educational purposes for entities such as the Milan Quartet Society, the Foundation for Cultural and Artistic Heritage and Church Activities, the Academy of Bel Canto “Georg Solti”, the Association of Friends of the Music School in Fiesole, the French Secular Mission (Mission laïque française) and the French School in Florence. She is also an advisor for the non-governmental and non-profit association “Europa Nostra”, the Musical Youth of Italy, the associations “Piero Faruli” and “Diamo il la”.

Francesca Moncada
Photo: Diego Molaschi ©

Francesca Moncada is the founder and co-creator of the MUSA project – European young MUsicians soft Skills Alliance, as well as the cultural organization “Le Dimore del Quartetto”, which brings together young string quartets. With a consolidated network of houses, ensembles and partners in the field of music and artistic heritage, specialized in the planning and management of various projects, such as festivals and travel routes, master classes and training programs for musicians, educational projects for schools and universities, team-building activities for companies, the “Le Dimore del Quartetto” program was presented in the Chamber of Deputies in 2017 as part of the “Best Practices of Cultural Diffusion” research. In 2018, it won the Cariplo Foundation competition for cultural innovation, and a year later it won the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2019, in the category of education, training and awareness. The following year, the global conference “The Best in Heritage” presented it as an “impact project”, and then in 2021, the 150th anniversary of the death of Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso was organized.

The artistic director of the project, Simone Gramaglia, also spoke about the importance and quality of this project, who believes that “the visionary MUSA project brings together the best quality of music that a united Europe can offer”. He further presents this project as “A bulwark of culture and values ​​beautifully represented by the String Quartet, a symbol of perfect democracy, the ability to combine plurality and diversity to grow together. […] Playing well is certainly a priority but it is not enough. Contact with the world, with other forms of expression, with life is necessary in order to have something to say, to express. Le Dimore del Quartetto, together with its prestigious European partners, has thought and wanted to try to put all this together in a single format. MUSA therefore looks to young people, accompanying them on a journey of human and artistic growth. For a better future, for an ever more United Europe”.

Simone Gramaglia

At the mentioned panel discussion in Brussels’ Gare Maritime, with the aim of presenting proposals related to the connection of models developed in the fields of music education, cultural heritage and circular economy, the results were presented by Francesca Moncada (founder of the organization “Le Dimore del Quartetto” and creator of the MUSA project) and Paola Dubini (professor and researcher at Bocconi University), while the guests were lecturers Paul Dujardin (chief project director of the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels), Alfonso Pallavicini ((President of the European Historic Houses), Xavier Pelgrims De Bigard (owner of Grand-Bigard Castle) Sneška Quaedvlieg Mihailović (Secretary General of Europa Nostra), Fiona Robertson (violinist in the Belinfante Quartet) and Pau Marquès I Oleo (founding member of the Belinfante Quartet), Igor E. Zanti (Global Head of Arts & Restoration at IED – European Design Institute), Yasmin Hilberdink (founder of the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam).

Ukoliko biste voleli više da saznate o projektu MUSA, možete posetiti


Author: Katarina Georgijević

Translation: Jelena Čolović

Festival Horovi među freskama

Početkom ovog meseca, 4. decembra, u atrijumu Narodnog muzeja Srbije počeo je dvadeset četvrti po redu festival duhovne muzike „Horovi među freskama”. Ovaj festival, koji je osnovan 1995. godine s blagoslovom blaženopočivšeg patrijarha Pavla, uz pokroviteljstvo Sekretarijata za kulturu grada Beograda, Narodnog muzeja Srbije, Hrama Svetog Marka i drugih, nije takmičarskog karaktera, već ima za cilj da promoviše autentičnost crkvenog horskog pevanja i očuvanje tradicije, uz akcenat na delima domaćih autora.

The Christmas-New Year series of concerts by the Musical Youth in Novi Sad

As part of the Christmas-New Year cycle, the Musical Youth of Novi Sad, like every year, prepared a rich program, consisting of six concert evenings. Encompassing all genres of artistic music, starting with spiritual, through ethnic Balkan melos and all the way to jazz and classical music, carefully nurturing and following the taste of the audience, Musical Youth is unfailingly able to create a program concept in accordance with the interests of the visitors. If you would like to spend this last month of the year at interesting concert events, as well as to see off this year in traditional style together with the Musical Youth, you can take a look at this year’s program.

The first in a series of concerts will be held on Thursday, December 15, in the Synagogue (Novi Sad), under the name “PESMA HERUVIMA” (The Cherubikon) by Divna Ljubojević and the choir “Melόdi” on the occasion of 30 years of creativity.

The BUNT festival is an integral part of the art scene and music, which can overshadow everyday life

From December 15 to December 28, the tenth “Belgrade Art New Territory” festival will be held, better known as BUNT (hereinafter – Bunt). The audience was impatiently waiting for the beginning of this event, where this year, during six festival days and nine concerts, with a rich musical repertoire starting from baroque, through classical and all the way to traditional Balkan melos, they will experience unforgettable concert days listening to top artists and performers from the domestic and world art scene.

Flautist and founder of the festival, professor Ljubiša Jovanović

Photo: Milan Bašić

Lecture on the topic: (Non)care about Serbian art music – problems and challenges faced by the musical legacies of Serbian composers

On Thursday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m., in the Josip Slavenski Legacy, music theorist Mirko Jeremić will hold a lecture and presentation on (Non)care of Serbian art music – problems and challenges faced by the musical legacies of Serbian composers.

Koncert Akademskog hora „Collegium musicum“ Tragovi iz sazvežđa Regula

U ponedeljak 5. decembra od 20 h u MTS dvorani Doma sindikata održaće se koncert pod nazivom Tragovi iz sazvežđa Regula koji predstavlja svojevrstan omaž osnivaču Akademskog hora „Collegium musicum“ Darinki Matić Marović. Koncert nosi simboličan naziv sa željom da se svi zajedno prisete, kako članovi hora navode, „dirigentkinje, prijateljice, profesorke i sjajne zvezde iz sazvežđa Regula“.

Iz arhive hora “Collegium musicum”