Gabriela Lena Frank’s work incorporates Latino/Latin American mythology, archeology, art, poetry, and folk music into Western Classical forms, reflecting her Peruvian-Jewish-Chinese heritage.
Recent premieres include the 30-minute ballet Requiem for a Magical America: El Día de los Muertos; Cinco Danzas de Chambi for viola and piano; Manchay Tiempo by the Seattle Symphony; and Inkarrí by the Kronos Quartet. Future premieres include: Jalapeño Blues based on the poetry of Chicano poet Trinidad Sánchez; The Llama’s to Blame: New Fables for guitarist Sharon Isbin; Sanjaunitos for the Brentano String Quartet; and a viola concerto for the Houston Symphony and Wayne Brooks.
Ms. Frank holds degrees from Rice University and a doctorate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her composition teachers have included William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, and Samuel Jones.
About Ritmos Anchinos, Ms. Frank writes:
It has taken me a long time to appreciate the scope of Peru’s multicultural history. As the American-born daughter of a Peruvian woman, I had primarily long been aware of Peru’s Native American and Spanish past, and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to try to understand its twofold African legacy from the Moorish influenced Spanish conquerors and their West African slaves. More personal to me, though, is the Asian presence due to a great-grandfather who left China in the late 1800s to open a country store in the Andean mountains. Old family photos and my mother’s memories bespeak my Chinese forbearers’ presence in such highland and coastal towns as Colquipocro, Chimbote, Piura, and Moro. Across continents and over several generations, the tendrils of my Asian legacy touched me as a young girl growing up in California, as chifa, Chinese-Peruvian stir-fry, was something often prepared in the kitchen by my mother.
In Ritmos Anchinos (Anchino Rhythms), I embark on my first piece writing for traditional Chinese instruments. True to my habit of coining nicknames, “anchino” came to life while I was composing, and it is a hybrid between chino (Chinese) and andino (Andean). The three movements of this work are:
I. Harawi para Colquipocro: This opening movement is in the style of an indigenous melancholy mountain song traditionally done on a solo quena bamboo flute, the harawi. This harawi is inspired by a photo of my mother’s half-Chinese father in the Andean mountain town of Colquipocro in which my grandfather is seated to the far left of two of his colleagues. In the background can be seen a Quechua Indian, perhaps a worker in the mines.
II. Charangos de Chincha: This more lighthearted movement reflects my time visiting Chincha, a coastal town (with a Chinese-sounding name!) known for its Chinese and African population. The charango is a small mandolin-like instrument adopted by the Indians that can sound very similar to the Chinese pipa. Brief allusions to Indian zapoña panpipes are also made.
III. Kachampa: This final movement is inspired by the kachampa, an indigenous dance of combat. I allude to the erquencho, a strident, clarinet-like wind instrument from the Southern Andes that can sound similar to the sheng.
Ritmos Anchinos is dedicated to my grandfather, Máximo Cam Velazques (1911-1968).