Composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank was included in the Washington Post’s list of the 35 most significant women composers in history (August 2017). Born in Berkeley, California in 1972, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, identity and exploring her multicultural heritage have always been at the center of Frank’s music. Frank attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned Bachelors and Masters degrees. She studied composition with Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. At the University of Michigan, where she received a D.M.A. in composition in 2001, Frank studied with William Albright, William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton.
Winner of a Latin Grammy and nominated for Grammys as both composer and pianist, Frank also holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and a USA Artist Fellowship given each year to fifty of the country’s finest artists. She is regularly commissioned by luminaries such as cellist Yo Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw, the King’s Singers, and the Kronos Quartet; and has received orchestral commissions and performances from leading American orchestras including the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, and the Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. In 2017, she completed her four-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony under Leonard Slatkin, as well as a residency with the Houston Symphony under Andrés Orozco-Estrada. In the 2019-20 season, Fort Worth Opera and San Diego Opera will premiere Frank’s first opera, The Last Dream of Frida, utilizing words by her frequent collaborator Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz.
Civic outreach is an essential part of Frank’s work. She has volunteered extensively in hospitals and prisons, with a recent project working with deaf African-American high school students in Detroit who rap in sign language. In 2017, Frank founded the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, a non-profit training institution that offers emerging composers short-term retreats at Frank’s two farms in Mendocino County, California. She currently resides in Boonville; and travels frequently in South America.
Frank joins us for the West Coast premiere of Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra on Saturday, August 4, during After Dixieland.