New music at the SPCO by Gabriela Frank

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
February 16, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — The first time composer Gabriela Lena Frank came upon the plays of the Cuban-American Nilo Cruz, she says his words sounded like they were ready-made for song. It was as though he had an opera in his mind all along.

So it is no wonder she chose his words to set to a re-imagining of the after-life of Frida Kahlo in a new set of songs for Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The premiere takes place this weekend and it is a coming-together of good friends and well-matched artists.

Gabriela met dawn Upshaw seven years ago at Carnegie hall when she was chosen for an intensive workshop for emerging composers. The goal was to help the young writers create works for voice, and Dawn Upshaw was one of the mentors.

They clicked - musically and personally - and stayed in touch as Gabriela's career began to blossom.

Fast forward a few years to Gabriela's hometown Berkeley. Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro took over the Music Directorship of the Berkeley Symphony and she and Gabriela soon became fast friends and musical colleagues.

So it is these three women coming together this weekend- writer, conductor and singer - to bring us "La centinela y la paloma" (The Keeper and the Dove.)

Frida Kahlo returns during the Dia de los Muertos festival. She desires one last visit with her beloved Diego Rivera. She can visit him - but not touch him as a living being can.

It is music filled with a deep range of emotion and Gabriela feels Dawn, though not a Latina, has just the right combination of virtuosity, drama and a stunningly warm voice to bring Frida to life on stage.


Join Alison Young at Friday and Saturday evening's concerts in the Ordway Foyer at 7:00 for a pre-concert interview with Gabriela Frank.

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