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Gabriela Lena Frank

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Title: Gabriela Lena Frank  
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Subject: Frida Kahlo, List of female composers by birth year, William Bolcom, Nilo Cruz, Saint Paul Sunday, List of American composers, Leslie Bassett, Peruvian American, Silk Road Project, William Albright (musician)
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Gabriela Lena Frank

Gabriela Lena Frank (b. Berkeley, California, United States, September 1972) is an American pianist and composer of contemporary classical music.


Gabriela Lena Frank's father is an American of Lithuanian Jewish heritage and her mother is Peruvian of Chinese descent. She grew up in Berkeley, California. Her parents met when her father was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the 1960s.

Frank is a graduate of Rice University and received a D.M.A. in Music Composition from the University of Michigan in 2001. She has studied composition with William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, and Samuel Jones. While she was still a doctoral student, in 2000 her "Sonata Andina" was among the winners in a professional competition, the Search for New Music of the International Alliance for Women in Music.


Frank's work often draws on her multicultural background, especially her mother's Peruvian heritage. In many of her compositions, she elicits the sounds of Latin American instruments such as Peruvian pan flute or charango guitar although the works typically are for Western classical instruments and ensembles such as the piano and string quartet. She has said, "I think the music can be seen as a by-product of my always trying to figure out how Latina I am and how gringa I am."[1]

Professional life

Frank's music has been commissioned and performed by the Kronos Quartet, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chanticleer Ensemble, the Chiara String Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, Carnegie Hall, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, guitarist Manuel Barrueco with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the King's Singers, directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Wu Han and David Finckel (also cellist with the Emerson Quartet), soprano Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and others. Her piece Concertino Cusqueño was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra in celebration of the start of that organization's newest conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.[2] Past performances include those by the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella series. She has an upcoming commission with the Cleveland Symphony.

She has served as composer-in-residence with the Modesto Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, the Seattle Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and many others. She currently serves as composer in residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and the Annapolis Symphony (through a Meet the Composer Music Alive grant). Between 2009 and 2012, she served as the Creative Advisor to the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra before stepping down to spend more time composing.[3] She has been featured at many festivals around the world including Music@Menlo, Tanglewood Music Festival, and the Chicago Chamber Players.

In 2007 Frank was awarded with her third Carnegie Hall commission as part of their New Music at Carnegie program.[4]

2009 was an especially eventful year for Frank as she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Latin Grammy Award for best Contemporary Classical Music Composition for Inca Dances (Tonar Label), which was written for guitarist Manuel Barrueco and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. She was also the feature of a PBS documentary entitled "Peregrinos" (produced by Emmy-winning producer Aric Hartvig) regarding her residency with the Indianapolis Symphony orchestra between 2007 and 2009 where, with an award from the Joyce Foundation, she composed a work inspired by the stories of Latino immigrants in Indianapolis. In the fall of 2009, she accepted a position with her hometown orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, to serve as its new Creative Advisor, where she works closely with conductor Joana Carneiro to assist with designing orchestral programming, mentor composers in the Under Construction program, and identify other areas of artistic growth.

Gabriela Lena Frank is a member of the Silk Road Ensemble under the direction of cellist Yo Yo Ma. Her composition Ritmos Anchinos appears on the Silk Road Ensemble's album Off the Map (World Village & In a Circle Records, 2009). "Off the Map" was nominated for a 2011 Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album.

In 2010 Frank won a United States Artists Fellow award.[5]

In 2011, Frank released a complete CD of her works, entitled "Hilos," on the Naxos label with the Nashville-based ALIAS Ensemble, featuring a new mixed quartet written expressly for ALIAS. In its first week of release, it broke into the Billboard's top 100 Classical Recordings and was subsequently awarded a rare "10/10" rating by Classics Today. "Hilos" was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award in the category of Best Small Ensemble Performance on which Frank plays piano.[6] It has received more than a dozen positive reviews.[7]

In 2012, Frank raised money through the organization USA Artists to compose a new work for the Ecuadoran group La Orquesta de Instrumentos Andinos (Orchestra of Andean Instruments).[8] The work, "Compadre Hushayo," is to be played entirely on indigenous instruments.[9]

Frank is frequently performed by the Caminos del Inka collective under the direction of conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. She works closely with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz in the creation of original new musical works for voice. Frank and Mr. Cruz recently completed a set of orchestral songs for Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to critical acclaim. An upcoming performance is slated for the spring of 2013 with the Annapolis Symphony and soprano Jessica Rivera.

Frank is also a Grammy-nominated pianist. She has recorded the complete piano works of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Leslie Bassett on the Equilibrium label. Recent performances include those with current and former members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, St. Luke's Orchestra, the Lydian Quartet, the Manhattan Quartet, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Frank is a freelance composer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area but travels frequently in North and South America. She is often a guest artist at universities and conservatories, giving performances, lectures, and lessons.

She is a member of the prestigious roster of G. Schirmer, exclusively published and managed.


External links

  • Gabriela Lena Frank page from Schirmer site
  • The Beautiful Next Step: An In-depth Interview with Composer Gabriela Lena Franks (in 8 parts)
  • Interview with Gabriela Lena Frank on New Music Box
  • Gabriela Lena Frank: The Well-Grounded Composer - Article in San Francisco Classical Voice
  • Journey Into Faith: The Creation of Holy Sisters - Article in San Francisco Classical Voice
  • Aural journeys with uncommon folk - Article in L.A. Times
  • Gabriela Lena Frank works in two Boston-area concerts - Article in Boston Globe
  • Composer Gabriela Lena Frank bursting with ideas - Article in Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Gabriela Lena Frank's energetic chamber works reveal her multi-cultural roots - Review in Chicago Tribune
  • Some delights among the duds in MusicNOW season finale at Harris Theater - Review in Chicago Tribune

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