In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Gabriela Lena Frank.
Gabriela Lena Frank
Gabriela Lena Frank is an eminent American composer of contemporary classical music. Born in Berkeley, California to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. Gabriela attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned a B.A. (1994) and M.A. (1996). She studied composition with Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. At the University of Michigan, she received a D.M.A. in composition studying with William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Gabriela has traveled extensively throughout South America in creative exploration. Her music often reflects not only her own personal experience as a multi-racial Latina, but also reflects her studies of Latin American cultures incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. Her Cinco Lunas de Lorca for Male Chorus and Piano remains one of Gabriela’s most-performed works. In 2020, Gabriela was a recipient of the prestigious 25th anniversary Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanity category with an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000 recognizing Gabriela for breaking gender, disability, and cultural barriers in the classical music industry, and for her work as an activist on behalf of emerging composers of all demographics and aesthetics. In their 2022-23 season, San Diego Opera will premiere Gabriela’s first opera, The Last Dream of Frida, utilizing words by her frequent collaborator Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz.
Suggested Choral Pieces: