Concert pianist Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972) grew up in Berkeley, California, but with a Chinese-Peruvian mother and a Lithuanian-Jewish father, she focuses on the composition of Latin American music. Inspired by Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera with the use of folksongs in their music, she incorporates Latin American folklore and native musical styles into the framework of western art music. Frank is a multi-award winning composer. She received a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2009 for Inca Dances, written for the Cuarteto Latinoamericano and guitarist Manuel Barrueco. The same year, she received a Guggenheim fellowship, allowing her to work with Pulitzer Prize winning Nilo Cruz. Together they created an opera about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. She has also collaborated with a number of other artists including: Jalapeño Blues (2006) for Chanticleer, Ritmos Anchinos (2006) for the Silk Road Project, and Manchay Tiempo (2005) for the Seattle Symphony (conductor, Jun Märkl). Frank received her BA and MA from Rice University in Texas, and a DMA in composition in 2001 from the University of Michigan.
Canto de Harawi: Amadeoso is a tone poem written in the form of the harawi. This is one of the oldest surviving forms from the Inca era. It is traditionally sung by older women in a high vocal range and uses a single, repeated melodic statement sung in heterophonic unison. It originated and was used exclusively in Quechua in the Andes Mountains. Canto de Harawi is the third work on the album “Compadrazgo,” for which the translated meaning reflects a kinship found in Latin American cultures. Amadeoso refers to the inspiration Frank received from a recurring childhood dream, involving the movie “Amadeus.” Frank writes that in her dream, she walked hand-in-hand with Mozart through various odd places – an old garden, a deserted playground, and a cavern that frightened her as a child. Written for flute, piano, and clarinet, it is a hauntingly beautiful, melancholy song. This work was commissioned by Da Camera of Houston.
I am comparing this work to And Legions Will Rise by Kevin Puts. Composed in 2001, according to Puts, it reflects our power to transcend tragedy. It was commissioned by the Kobe Shinbun, at the request of Makoto Nakura. With similar instrumentation, And Legions Will Rise instrumentation consists of marimba, clarinet, and violin. The texture of this piece is similar to Amadeoso, and the melody, although also haunting in the minor key, holds a more tonal center It also contains movements that vary the tempo of the work, along with a quicker harmonic rhythm.
I found Canto de Harawi: Amadeoso piece through a facebook post. This work features my daughter’s clarinet instructor from The Boston Conservatory, Michael Norsworthy, and on Monday, April 14, 2014, was featured as WQXR Music Album of the week. I attempted to use a score form the publisher’s website, but it is difficult to read. It is a gorgeous piece, and I may purchase it for my daughter.
Clark, Walter Aaron. “ Latin American Impact on Contemporary Classical Music.” Musics of Latin America, edited by Robin Moore. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
Frank, Gabriela Lena. Music Sales Classical. “Canto de Harawi: Amadeoso (2005).” G. Schirmer Publishers. http://www.musicsalesclassical.com/composer/work/2388/34948.
Naxos Digital Services. “Gabriela Lena Frank.” 2014. http://www.naxos.com/person/Gabriela_Lena_Frank/108651.htm.
Puts, Kevin. “Works: Chamber and Ensemble.” http://www.kevinputs.com/program/legions.html.
Thomas, Susan. "Latin American Music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed May 2, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2093315.
Yeh, Molly. “Gabriela Lena Frank Draws on Dances, Dreams and Sacrifice.” WQXR. Q2Music Album of the Week for April 14, 2014.http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/gabriela-lena-frank-draws-dances-dreams-and-sacrifice/.