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U-M’s “Mestiza Music" film receives public screening, will air on PBS

Photo courtesy Girls Rock Detroit, a nonprofit launched by U-M student Melissa Coppola, that gives young girls ages 8-14 an opportunity to participate in a summer camp focused on music education and performance.

A film that documents a unique multi-cultural musical event that took place at the University of Michigan in 2014 will receive a public screening at the Keene Theater in East Quad on Monday, April 4 at 4 pm and will be aired on public television stations throughout the country between June 2016 and January 2017.

Titled Mestiza Music, the film was co-produced by the University of Michigan and WFYI-Indianapolis and was produced, edited, and photographed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Aric Hartvig.

Mestiza Music follows U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) alumna Gabriela Lena Frank (DMA ’01, composition), a Grammy-winning Peruvian-American composer, as she pursues a passionate mission to create mestiza (mixed-race) music, fusing multi-cultural musical styles with classical music.

The concert and film was the culmination of Frank’s year-long William Bolcom Residency in Composition at SMTD and was co-sponsored by SMTD’s string and composition departments, the Residential College, and the International Institute.

After years of planning, musicians with roots in Finland, Korea, China, and the United States joined Frank and three talented Ecuadorian panpipe players in Ann Arbor to premiere her new rendition of mestiza music in a concert at Stamps Auditorium.

“As a mixed-race composer, I consider myself both a witness and storyteller, speaking in a gloriously messy multi-cultural musical code,” said Frank. “Performers complete the picture, interpreting my music and recreating it anew for a receiving audience. How can this be anything but an act that unites not just in spite of, but because of our collective appreciation for diverse origins?”

The international array of musicians appearing in the film include Andrew Jennings, SMTD professor of violin; Christina McGann, violin; Charlton Lee, viola; alumna Katri Ervamaa, cello (DMA ’00), who is head of the Music Program at the Residential College; and Franklin, Danilo and Lenin Vizuete, pan pipes and flutes.

Following the screening on April 4, which is free and open to the public, a question-and-answer session will take place featuring Frank, Hartvig, Jennings, and Ervamaa.

By Marilou Carlin