Gabriela Lena Frank’s Elegía Andina
Notes by TŌN violinist Julián Andrés Rey Peñaranda
Gabriela Lena Frank is one of the most representative composers of the 21st century. She was born in 1972 in Berkley, California, in a family with diverse and rich cultural traditions: her father is Lithuanian-Jewish, and her mother is Chinese-Peruvian-Spanish. These multicultural origins define her unique style. She has received many awards, among them the Latin Grammy and the prestigious 25th anniversary Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanity category.
Elegía Andina (Andean Elegy) was composed in 2000 during Ms. Frank’s DMA studies at the University of Michigan. This piece was her orchestra debut as a composer, and it caught the attention of ensembles and musicians worldwide—such as cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, among others—which commissioned her new works. Dedicated to her older brother, Marcos Gabriel Frank, Elegía Andina gives the audience a chance to make an exciting trip around the composer’s multicultural world. She uses many colors and atmospheres that invite listeners to understand and identify all the origins of her family. In addition, It is fascinating to see how she manages to put all these cultures together and reflect on her life in her music. From my point of view, one of the elements that calls the most attention in this piece is the flute part, which was inspired by Peruvian arca/ira zampoña panpipes and by Floyd Hebert, principal flutist of the Albany Symphony Orchestra.