Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra is inspired by my travels in Perú, my mother’s homeland. Born in the States, I did not begin these fateful trips until my time as a graduate student at the University of Michigan where my teachers encouraged me to answer questions of identity that long persisted for me: What does it mean to be American born yet with such a motley crew of forbearers hailing from Lithuania, China, and Andean South America? For more than twenty years, I’ve been answering this question, with each piece raising yet more to address.
In four movements, Walkabout uses both musical and extra-musical influences. The first movement, Soliloquio Serrano, features our string principles prominently in an introspective yet lyrical “mountain soliloquy.” The second movement is lively and bold, a portrait of “huaracas,” the slingshot weapons favored by the soldiers employed during the 16th century in the dominant Inca empire. “Haillí,” the Quechua word for “prayer,” is our third movement and is both lyrical and passionate. The last movement, “Tarqueada” portrays, after a mysterious opening, one of my favorite scenes of Perú: A great parade of “tarka” flutists who can number up to a hundred at once. These musicians also blow whistles and beat a variety of different drums, creating a sonic effect of controlled chaos that never stops building.
— Gabriela Lena Frank