As a child, I loved classic fairy tales as collected and told by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and others. They conflated easily with the stories my mother would tell me of beautiful Perú, her homeland which seemed so wild and otherworldly to me as I grew up in urban northern California. It was thus that Cinderella was really a long-lost Inca princess, Rumpelstiltskin was actually an Andean fat-sucking giant known as a pistaqo, and the goose that laid a golden egg was a sullen llama of golden wool that also spat silver on unsuspecting yet lucky bypassers…
As a composer, I’ve often enjoyed using some of my childish and fancifully personalized re-interpretations of myths to inspire pieces, with varying degrees of overt Latin American musical (especially indigenous Indian) influences. Will-o'-the-Wisp: Tone Poem for Piccolo and Orchestra, written for Mary Kay Fink and the Cleveland Orchestra, is one such piece. It stems from my vague recollection of a picture book from the public library about a benign yet enigmatic flickering light which danced to a simple "humble song, song humble" before enticing lost travellers ever deeper into a weirdly unsettling forest. This landscape was my youthful fantasy of what my mother's homeland was like, and Will-o'-the-Wisp makes allusions to Peruvian flute music, albeit subtle.
— Gabriela Lena Frank