Q&A with Ana Kasrashvili, Award-Winning Composer, Songwriter, and Teacher
The career of Ana Kasrashvili M.M. ’15 after graduating has been full of remarkable achievements. Image courtesy of Ana Kasrashvili.
“Berklee is the best place for students who are passionate about music and are not afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. I consider myself very lucky for the opportunity I had to learn from great teachers who shared their experience, created the right environment, and knew how to motivate each student.”
The career of Ana Kasrashvili M.M. ’15 has been full of remarkable achievements recently. In 2015, after graduating from the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, she won the Scoring Competition Award at the California Independent Film Festival. Last year, she recorded and conducted an original three-minute cue for Scott Derrickson’s film Doctor Strange, orchestrated the news theme for Georgian Public Broadcasting’s 60th anniversary, and wrote a song for the New Year’s Eve concert celebrated in Tbilisi, Georgia. In addition to this, she also teaches film scoring at the Tbilisi State Conservatory.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games at Berklee Valencia?
Studying at Berklee was always one of my life goals. First, I wanted to study traditional composition in Boston, but when I read about the Valencia campus, the Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games graduate program captured my attention, especially film scoring, which was an unexplored side of music for me. So I started thinking about studying in Valencia, and two years later I finally managed to apply. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Watch Kasrashvili play during the recording of her original composition "Lament" as part of the Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games graduate program's Final Recording Project at Abbey Road Studios in London:
What opportunities did you have, being in Valencia, that you may not have had otherwise?
It was a very intense and challenging year for me. I never had the opportunity to write and record so much music in one year, especially under a deadline, which is very important.
I was quite experienced in writing music on the piano, but learning to realize musical ideas in a digital audio workstation and other technologies was a completely new chapter for me. So I learned to combine these technical skills with my classical background. At Berklee, I had the opportunity to record my music at the Ann Kreis scoring stage with professional musicians and with the Budapest Art Orchestra. The final recording session at Abbey Road Studios was a dream come true. I wouldn’t be able to gain so much experience without being at Berklee Valencia. I hope that someday students from my country, Georgia, will have such a wide variety of possibilities and equipment.
How has your Berklee experience influenced you as a professional?
I didn’t have much time to think of how I was improving my skills because I was really focused on studying and completing assignments, but by the end of the first semester, I realized that the results were much better than I expected. Berklee opened the door to new possibilities, and it played a huge role in getting me where I am today.
Why would you tell other students to come to Berklee’s Valencia campus?
Berklee is the best place for students who are passionate about music, hard-working, and not afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. I consider myself very lucky for the opportunity I had to learn from great teachers who shared their experience, created the right environment, and knew how to motivate each student. I had a chance to meet so many talented musicians from different backgrounds, and it was great how we helped and supported each other and learned to work as a team. It’s really inspiring.
What is your fondest memory of your time at the Valencia campus?
It’s really hard for me to name just one, we were like one big family. Despite challenges, I enjoyed every day I spent on campus. For example, I miss the time my classmates and I worked on assignments at the technology labs until late at night.
In 2017 you were selected to attend the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis in Los Angeles, where you recorded and conducted an original three-minute cue for Scott Derrickson’s film Doctor Strange. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Participating in the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis was my next goal after graduating from Berklee. During this month-long program, I had the opportunity to meet some of the industry’s best composers, agents, “A-list” Hollywood studio executives, attorneys, music supervisors, and music editors. Recording that session with the L.A. Union musicians at the Fox Newman Scoring Stage was an unforgettable experience, and I can’t thank Richard Bellis, Jennifer Harmon, and Mike Todd enough for this opportunity.
When did you join ASCAP as a composer, and what are the major benefits of this affiliation?
I joined ASCAP in February 2017. While attending the workshop in L.A., I had the opportunity to meet with ASCAP’s film and TV executives, board members, and vice presidents. I knew how ASCAP helps new writers through workshops, scholarships, grants, and awards. I am looking forward to the next steps in my career, and ASCAP is the organization I want to protect my works with.
You also won the Scoring Competition Award at the 2015 California Independent Film Festival for a piece you wrote for the short film Bridgebuilders. Can you share more about this composition and about the competition you entered?
It was the first film scoring competition I ever entered, and the directors of this short were part of the judges. After submitting my work, I was interested to know how close my music was to their intents. I really enjoyed working on Bridgebuilders, and luckily my first attempt was successful. I was invited to the closing ceremony of the festival and screening of my work, but unfortunately, I couldn’t attend.
You are also a songwriter. Which recent projects have you been involved in?
I’ve been writing songs since my teenage years, but for the last two years, I was more focused on film music. Now, I am dedicating more time to songwriting as well. My latest project was a song called “Magic Moments” I wrote for the 2017 New Year’s Eve concert in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Have you been working on other orchestration and score projects recently?
Yes. I’ve been involved in various orchestration, song arrangement, and score preparation projects. I enjoy this work very much. I orchestrated a news theme for the Georgian Public Broadcasting’s 60th anniversary, which was performed by the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Recently, I’ve been invited to teach film scoring at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, which is a big responsibility for me.