On today’s date in 2010, at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville, the ALIAS ensemble gave the premiere performance of a new chamber world by American composer Gabriela Lena Frank. It was titled “Hilos”–the Spanish word for “threads”–and scored for piano, violin, cello and clarinet.
Now, it’s not unusual for composers to tap their particular cultural background for inspiration, but Gabriela Lena Frank has a pretty wide variety of options in that regard: Her father is an American of Lithuanian Jewish heritage and her mother is Peruvian of Chinese descent. They met when her father was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the 1960s, and Frank herself grew up in Berkeley, California.
"There's usually a story line behind my music," says Frank. Regarding “Hilos,” she noted, “There are similarities to [Mussorgsky’s] ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ in that each movement tells a different story … ‘Hilos’ refers to the ‘threads’ that make up Andean textiles and how these threads weave together.”
Each movement of “Hilos” has an evocative title, such “Canto del Altiplano” (Song of the Highlands), “Zumballyu” (Spinning Top), or “Juegos de los Niños” (Games of the Children).
Music Played in Today's Program
Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972)HilosLee Carroll Levine, cl; Zeneba Brown, vn; Matt Walker, vcl; Gabriela Lena Frank, p.Naxos 8.559645
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