The Process: Leaha Maria Villarreal

Doctoral student Leaha Maria Villarreal describes how an online collaboration encouraged her to reimagine the composition process. 


As part of a new virtual collaboration between the Composition, Strings, and Vocal Arts & Opera programs, students have been creating new works designed for this unique digital moment. Led by faculty members Lina Bahn, Lisa Sylvester, and Nina Young, the Performer-Composer Collaboration project has allowed students to explore new methodologies and working relationships. It’s a project that resulted after USC Thornton closed its campus in March, 2020, but it’s also emblematic of the community at Thornton, where students and faculty alike are constantly seeking ways to collaborate. 

Composer and doctoral student Leaha Maria Villarreal created a new work, “Resound,” for the project, in collaboration with her classmates, violinist Evan Llafet and tenor Benjamin Cross. In this video, she describes how engaging in collaboration virtually required her to reimagine her process as a composer and creative partner.

“For me, this necessity of bringing your collaborators into the more conceptual side of the piece was really important, and something that’ll be really important for me going forward,” said Villarreal.