Well-Composed Life

When composer Jordan Kuspa moved back to Del Mar in 2018, he immediately began to think about setting down musical roots: “I had been away since childhood, and wanted to create something that would keep me connected to Del Mar, no matter where I went. My first thought was to develop an annual artistic event—something that would always lead me back to the Del Mar community.” Kuspa began to reach out to local musicians, including soprano Tasha Hokuao Koontz, music director at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and the Hausmann Quartet, artist faculty at SDSU. A meeting with the Del Mar Foundation’s Cultural Arts Committee led to Kuspa making further connections in the community, and ultimately led to the Foundation providing fiscal sponsorship and grant support to the new project, the Del Mar International Composers Symposium. In August 2019, the first season of DMICS was held at St. Peter’s, featuring the Hausmann Quartet performing the music of six composers hailing from as far away as South Korea, Iran, and the Canary Islands. 


Now in its third season, DMICS has grown significantly. This year’s program runs for the first two weeks of August, and will feature four public concerts, along with presentations by the guest composers, librettists, and other collaborators. The Hausmann Quartet opens the public concerts on August 5 at Town Hall, followed by a Boston-based ensemble, Hub New Music, performing at the Powerhouse Community Center on August 9. Pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski, on faculty at Juilliard, plays a solo recital at St. Peter’s on August 11th. The season concludes with a night of opera, as DMICS partners with the locally-based FF Collective to present short operas and works in progress by Kuspa, returning composer Polina Nazaykinskaya, Omar Surillo, and Meilina Tsui. 

Composer Polina Nazaykinskaya, soprano Tasha Hokuao Koontz, and DMICS Director Jordan Kuspa before a DMICS concert at the Powerhouse Community Center on Aug. 10, 2021. Photo by Carron Martin

On the new opera component of DMICS, Kuspa explained: “This new collaboration with the FF Collective allows composers to develop their ideas while they are here in Del Mar, and to share their work in progress with the public. Two of the operas have been commissioned by major opera companies, and this will be the first time any of this music is performed anywhere. It will give our audience a true sneak peek into how operas are made.”


Last summer, DMICS initiated a new student program offering talented college and early professional composers the opportunity to workshop their music with DMICS artists. This August, over a dozen students from top music schools including Juilliard, the New England Conservatory, USC, and Yale will join Kuspa and faculty composers Robert Honstein and Nina C. Young in developing new works and sharing musical ideas. Each student brings an unfinished work and, with the help of the DMICS faculty, hone the works into a final shape. The pieces are recorded for use in each student’s portfolio. They also come to appreciate the beauty of Del Mar and the warmth of our community here. 


Once again, Del Mar Foundation is sponsoring this year’s DMICS with fiscal sponsorship and a matching grant. For information on how to make a donation that will be matched by DMF, contact dmf@delmarfoundation.org.

The 2022 Del Mar International Composers Symposium runs from August 1–14, and will feature more performances, more artists, and more ways to interact with the creative process than ever before. For more information or to purchase concert tickets: www.delmarcomposers.org.