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Gabriela Lena Frank

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Tres Mitos de Mi Tierra (2009)
G Schirmer Inc
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
21 Minutes
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Programme Note
Gabriela Lena Frank Tres Mitos de Mi Tierra (2009)
David Hurley speaks about the 'Myths' concert

Composer note:
The lyrics and music of Tres Mitos de mi Tierra (Three Myths of my Land), while completely original, draw direct inspiration from the mountain cultures of Perú, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Frequently referred to as “singing mountaineers,” the people of the Andes enjoy a contemporary artistic expression that still carries the overtones of their Inca and pre-Inca past. The rhythms of Tres mitos suggest traditional dance, while melodies and harmonies evoke tunings of panpipes and guitar-like instruments. Vocal techniques such as glissandi and brief inhaled passages reference typical singing practices, and the lyrics follow a strophic declamatory style commonly encountered in Andean poetry.

As “myths,” each of these three songs is longer than a traditional folk song. One could consequently imagine these as either concert works or as the backdrop to a mini-ballet setting the scene to the texts. The songs are also designed to work together as a set or as stand-alones.

— Gabriela Lena Frank

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Sample Pages

Next came the world premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank's Tres Mitos de Mi Terra. Having spoken with Frank a few weeks prior to the premiere, I was curious to hear the work which both she and the King's Singers were clearly very passionate about. The piece was a terrific success. Frank explored every conceivable way of writing for six male voices, experimenting imaginatively with sound effects throughout. The singers shone in their performance, tackling the work's technical challenges--of which there were many--fluidly and convincingly.
Elizabeth Morgan, San Francisco Examiner,24/02/2010
Each of the three movements is a large, complex composition of half a dozen long, elaborate verses by itself. Put them all together, and it’s 20 minutes straight, seeming longer because of how much content is packed in there, for all six singers — two countertenors, one tenor, two baritones, and a bass — with hardly a break for any, and not a sip of water or a throat-clearing in sight. This would have been amazing enough, had Frank written merely a minimalist om. She is not that kind of composer. Even the slower central song is thoroughly busy, written with awesome detail and a thorough attention to her text. The precision of the singers’ enunciation was vital here. Lyrics and music were inspired by the South American Andean portion of Frank’s multicultural ancestry. Her text, though in English, has many Spanish words and phrases inserted, and is all written, she tells us, with “the rhythms and cadences of Spanish.” The infusion is complete. Throughout the third song, the elaborate courting call of a man to a bewitching woman, the text is counterpointed with the word “Hechicera” (sorceress), both the title of the song and the word he uses to describe her at the beginning. The text and the repeated word intertwine in the parts, forming an elaborate multilayered conversation. The first song, “Travel Song,” is built similarly, with entrances cascading over each other, parallel word phrasing in successive lines reflected in repeated musical phrasing, and the voices suddenly coming together into a single line at critical points. Frank’s musical style is as eclectic and wide-ranging as her word-setting: South American rhythms and vocal styles, combining the traditions of the Spanish- and Quechua-speaking peoples, to be sure. Other echoes come in, as well, intended or not. I heard a sense of blues in Stephen Connolly’s bass solo in the second song, “Himno del pinto anónimo”; elsewhere there was a touch of sea chantey and even a moment where the repeated hechicera sounded almost like a quotation from “Que sera, sera.”
David Bratman, San Francisco Classical Voice,20/02/2010
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