A summer full of recording and mixing turned opportunity into score


Provided by Riya Kumar

Senior Riya Kumar (pictured bottom left) attended a month-long Film and TV Scoring Program for students interested in screen scoring. Not only did her experience and skills grow from this program, but the program provided Kumar with numerous opportunities such as working with award winning Hollywood composer, Michael Levine.

From learning nursery rhymes by ear to spending spare time playing on her cheap, plastic keyboard at the age of four, senior Riya Kumar began immersing herself early on in hours of musical experimentation and creation.

Fast forward 14 years later and Kumar is continuing to maintain this same passion and intensity through bigger opportunities than the ones she had started with, including attending a month-long prestigious Film and TV Scoring Program

“The program was intended for college students and working professionals interested in screen scoring and looking to connect to other industry professionals and rising composers,” Kumar said. “The workshop intensives were led by well-known Film and TV composers to simulate the fast turnaround of real-world scenarios with daily cue submission requirements and critiques by the original composers in front of all the participants.”

After three critiques, Kumar and her peers received help from NYU professors to notate their scores and prepare them to be recorded by the chamber ensemble. (provided by Riya Kumar)

In order to be accepted into at least one of NYU’s Screen Scoring Summer Intensive Workshops, Kumar was required to undergo a long and demanding application process. Nevertheless, the task was worthwhile as she was not only accepted but also chosen to receive a scholarship to participate in two of the four programs.

“There was a lengthy application process including submitting a portfolio as they wanted to ensure that participants would be able to keep up with the tight deadlines and intensity of the program,” Kumar said. “If you were not accepted as a participant, you were offered to attend as an audit. [However], I was awarded a scholarship to attend as a participant for both the Film and TV Scoring workshops.”

Despite being accepted and earning a scholarship to attend, Kumar’s doubts and worries about not only her age but also her experience and skills started to grow.

“I was extremely intimidated as I knew that I would be one of the only high school students participating in the intensive,” Kumar said. “I felt denoted by the fact that many others had more years of experience than I had.”

I was extremely intimidated as I knew that I would be one of the only high school students participating in the intensive,

— Senior Riya Kumar

Even so, Kumar continued to show excitement towards the chance to participate in such a unique program and interact with other musically passionate students around the nation.

“There are few programs available that offer such an amazing opportunity and experience,” Kumar said. “I was very excited that the NYU Screen Scoring Intensive had opened up again in person as I knew that I would be able to connect with many musically talented peers and also experience a college-like setting and speak with professors who teach this program at the undergraduate level.”

In fact, after showcasing her final score towards the end of the program, Kumar’s expectations and excitement were not just met but exceeded as she was offered a chance to work with an acclaimed and talented composer.

“Michael Levine, an award winning Hollywood composer and critiquer at the NYU intensive, was impressed with my score for the clip Coraline and offered me to join his music label Mpath as their youngest writer,” Kumar said.

After receiving the offer and returning back to Texas, Kumar went straight to work by sending Levine multiple tracks in which they could work on creating a production from. 

“When I got back from NYU, I sent [Michael] four to five of my tracks that were laying around on my hard drive,” Kumar said. “He approved all of them and asked me to work on the production in which I started, so that we could release them.”

From my experiences, I had taken away the idea of always trying new things even when they seem to be daunting,

— Senior Riya Kumar

While composing and producing each part and solo of every track, Kumar was met with specific demands and challenges. 

“Michael specifically wanted live recordings of the violin and cello solos I had on my tracks, but I told him I didn’t know anyone,” Kumar said. “So, he recorded the solos for me, which was a month-long process of me sending him the sheet music and click track for him to record the violin and cello parts and integrating that with the rest of my instruments.”

Mark Suozo (pictured left) and Riya Kumar (pictured right) after a recording session with the chamber ensemble. “I hope to continue putting my music out there and continue to see what unfolds,” Kumar said. (provided by Riya Kumar)

Yet, even after finishing recording and integrating, Kumar had more that needed to be done in order to finalize her production: she had to also prepare and complete her mixes and alternatives. 

In addition to completing and sending every mix and track, Kumar was also responsible for creating and submitting a metadata in order for her to be one step closer to publishing her first album. 

“When I sent everything in, it was extremely satisfying,” Kumar said. “[However], Michael came back saying that I had to fill the metadata, which is, essentially, writing the description for each track and its details, taking me another week.”

Once Kumar had submitted the metadata, her production was finally complete and is now ready to be released as a debut album in the next coming months. 

“From my experiences, I had taken away the idea of always trying new things even when they seem to be daunting,” Kumar said. “Especially since I now have a published album coming soon, I hope to continue putting my music out there and continue to see what unfolds.”