Gabriela Lena Frank: El Nascimento de Cifar

Written by Michael Barrett

Associate Artistic Director, NYFOS

In category: Song of the Day

Published January 13, 2017

I started this weeks posts talking about the plight of women composers, especially non-white composers, as exemplified by Gabriela Lena Frank. But we haven’t heard her music yet. She is writing a lot for orchestras right now. Her Requiem will be premiered in Houston in a few months, the NY Philharmonic recently presented her new Viola Concerto, and there are more new pieces on the way.

She also knows how to write well for the voice. I’m confident that Gabriela’s example to other young women seeking to become composers, and her advocacy for women and composers of color will have an important influence on the folks who present new music and commission new composers. One of her not-yet-completed cycles already has a dozen or so songs that I am fond of.

Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea is the setting of an epic poem by Pablo Antonio Cuadra. The protagonist, a sailor named Cifar is destined to sail the greatest lake in Nicaragua. All his life lessons, challenges, and triumphs are a result of his life on the water. It all begins with Cifar’s birth. Here is “El Nascimento de Cifar” by Gabriela Lena Frank. Andrew Garland is the excellent baritone. Warren Jones is at the piano.

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Michael Barrett is the co-founder and associate artistic director of New York Festival of Song, as well as the co-founder and music director of the Moab Music Festival in Utah. A conductor and a pianist, Michael was a protégé of Leonard Bernstein and serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.


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