NASHVILLE SCENE: ‘Magnificent debut’ of Hilos

Gabi rehearsing HilosHere is an excerpt from another strong review of ‘Hilos’ in The Nashville Scene, written by John Pitcher. For the full story, click HERE.

The Alias Chamber Ensemble and composer Gabriela Lena Frank kicked off the season with the magnificent debut of “Hilos”

by John Pitcher

October 07, 2010

If you want to terrify a concert audience into fleeing a theater, you don’t have to shout “fire.” In many American cities you only have to whisper the words “modern music.”Fortunately, that’s not the case in Nashville, where the Alias Chamber Ensemble has developed a large and loyal following for its adventurous programming. Alias packed the Blair School of Music’s Turner Hall for its season-opening concert last Friday with a program that included the world premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Hilos” for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, along with music by D.J. Sparr, Kenji Bunch and Bayani Mendoza de Leon.

Frank, a 38-year-old California-based pianist and composer, often writes music that draws on her multicultural heritage. Her mother is a Peruvian of Chinese descent, and her father is an American of Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry. “Hilos” finds its inspiration in the composer’s Peruvian background. The title means “threads” and alludes to the colorful beauty of Peru’s textiles. Frank refers to the piece as a kind of Peruvian “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Lasting about 30 minutes, “Hilos” is an expansive work consisting of eight short movements, which boast such descriptive titles as “Charanguista Viejo” (Old Charango Player) and “Zumballyu” (Spinning Top). The score is positively brimming with rhythmically vital and lyrically appealing ideas. But its greatness stems from its prismatic beauty.

Frank left no timbre unexplored. She mixed and matched the work’s instrumental combinations, with some movements highlighting the sounds of just two instruments — “Charanguista Viejo,” for instance, was primarily a dialogue between violin and piano. The result was a work full of diaphanous textures.

For the rest of the story at, click HERE.