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Andean, Western elements meld in ‘Walkabout’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chatter Sunday heads for Peru with “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout” at Las Puertas Event Center.

A string quartet will perform Gabriela Lena Frank’s acclaimed piece combining Peruvian folk melodies with classical music traditions. Each movement symbolizes different people and instruments of the Andes, such as the tarka, a type of flute, the zampoña pan pipe, or the “llorena,” a professional mourner.

“It’s a very colorful piece,” violinist and Chatter co-founder David Felberg said.

Frank evokes characters that include a runner who sprints from peak to peak as a messenger.

“There’s also an Andean wailing woman,” Felberg said. “It blends all of these Andean folk elements with Western string techniques. They co-exist beautifully in this piece.”

Born in Berkeley, Calif., to a mother of mixed Peruvian and Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian and Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions.

The musicians also will perform Meredith Monk’s “Stringsongs.” Monk is an American composer, performer, director, vocalist, filmmaker and choreographer.

“She’s sort of legendary,” Felberg said. “She’s been active since the 1960s in the avant-garde scene in New York. She took her ideas of exploring different vocal textures and songs and extended that to the string quartet.”

Monk gave each of the four movements resonant names: “Cliff Lights,” “Tendrils,” “Obsidian Chorale” and “Phantom Strings.”

“It’s sort of an emotionally raw piece,” Felberg said. “It’s really evocative of the titles of the movements.”

“Stringsongs” was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, which premiered the piece in 2005 in London’s Barbican Centre.

The performers will include Felberg and Megan Holland on violins, Kim Fredenburgh on viola and James Holland on cello.