May 7 2010
Robin Sharp, violin
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra
Ben Simon, conductor
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Haillí Lírico for solo violin, strings, and percussion (2010) was composed at the request of my dear friend, violinist Robin Sharp. This woman? In my estimation, a force to be reckoned with. Rich laughter bubbles from her easily but only as she pleases, she exudes kindness towards novices but doesn't suffer fools lightly, and beneath her mischievous wit beats the heart of a gal with a seriously deep code of honor. Pretty impressive.
Robin and I met in a swamp. Remind me to tell you about this story sometime. In spite of the surreal heat and mosquitos, the awful food, and a seriously overloaded plate of work, a friendship quickly ignited, forged in part through mutual appreciation of one another's music-making Robin gave the first performance of my early violin/piano duo with me at the piano, Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album (2002). It was a vivid experience to perform with her, so much so that I can still recall our wardrobe…
It took us a number of years to bring an original new work written especially for Robin to fruition, but we finally did so with the blessing of conductor/violist Ben Simon and the excellent San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. As one who is enamored with Latin American idioms with deep roots and how they can fuse beautifully with western classical music, I wanted to find a proper musical premise for this particular project, ultimately deciding that a bit of risk was called for.
Inspired by the late work of Bela Bartok in which Eastern European folkloric influences are there but in a less obvious way than in earlier pieces, Haillí Lírico (Lyric Prayer, translated from Spanish and Quechua, the indigenous language of Peruvian indios) likewise plays its South American roots close to the vest. Allusions to traditional Andean motifs, for instance, proliferate but subtly so. Haillí Lírico is also more through-composed than any other work I've created, envisioned as an entreaty that spins with little pause through reverence, frenetic energy, and lyricism. In this way, I hope to have created a soliloquy of the most personal nature that is a fitting tribute in memory of Robin's father, Terry E. Sharp, for whom this work was written.
Gabriela Lena Frank