by Nadia Sirota
Gabriella Smith’s Lost Coast
Joyful Climate Action Through Music
Gabriella Smith is a composer and native Californian. In 2014, Gabriella hiked the Lost Coast trail, a remote section of the California coast so rugged and punctured by cliffs, the Pacific Coast Highway was diverted inland for over 100 miles, leaving the land truly wild. The solo hike inspired Gabriella to compose a series of pieces for cello and electronics, written for her longtime collaborator, the cellist Gabriel Cabezas. Eventually, these evolved into Lost Coast: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra that was premiered by Gabriel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in May of 2023.
Gabriella has always been inspired by nature, spending time volunteering for a bird banding station in Point Reyes California when she was just 12 years old. As a child, Gabriella was also a talented and dedicated young violinist and composer, though her love of the environment and passion for music didn’t intersect until she left California to study composition at Curtis, an elite conservatory in Philadelphia. Overcome with homesickness and newly expected to present and speak about her compositions, she started writing music about the topics she preferred to talk about: Pacific Coastal landscapes, birds, and natural sounds. This was an artistic breakthrough and helped her find her musical voice.
Gabriella’s work is both serious and joyous; it dances. It is full of unexpected textures and unconventional sounds, yet she always employs them in the service of bold and satisfying musical arcs. Nadia Sirota sat down with Gabriella to talk about her music, her passion for nature and conservation, and how to find joy in climate action.
Nadia Sirota is a violist, conductor, and producer. In all branches of her artistic life she aims to open classical music up to a broader audience. She is a sought-after collaborator and appears on over 100 studio albums, including four solo albums of commissioned music. Nadia received a Peabody Award for her podcast Meet the Composer, which she co-created, co-produced, and hosted. Nadia joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in 2023, teaching Chamber Music and Graduate Studies, and becoming the school’s first Creative Associate at Large.
Editing and sound design by Matteah Baim.