Composer Nancy Galbraith has enjoyed a long friendship with Cuarteto Latinoamericano who premiered her String Quartet No. 1 in 1996, her second string quartet, Inquiet Spirits, in 2000, and String Quartet No. 3 in 2005. All three works are dedicated to the Cuarteto. In Introduction and Allegro the Cuarteto’s Saul Bitran teams with Carnegie Mellon University’s premiere pianist Luz Manriquez, who appears on two of Galbraith’s previous recordings.
Nancy Galbraith (b. 1951) was born into a musical family in Millvale, Pennsylvania, a borough of Pittsburgh. One of her earliest influences was the music of her family’s church, Christ Lutheran, where her mother was the organist and her father a bass in the choir. Here she was immersed in the congregation’s four-part singing of the liturgy and hymns, and her ears were filled with anthems and preludes by Bach, Handel, and Mendelssohn. She also attended concerts of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra where her uncle, Freeman Hoffman, had once played the violin. She began piano studies at age four. In her teen years she also studied the clarinet,and was first chair with the Allegheny Valley Honors Band, where she was exposed to a rich variety of composers including Holst, Stravinsky, and Husa.
At Ohio University, Galbraith performed in the Contemporary Ensemble on both piano and clarinet, and accompanied numerous recitals. She found a mentor in composer Karl Ahrendt who encouraged her to pursue a degree in composition, which she completed in 1972. She completed her masters degree at West Virginia University in 1976, and continued studies in composition, piano, and organ at Carnegie Mellon University.
Since then she has embarked on a career that spans three decades. Her music has earned praise for its rich harmonic texture, rhythmic vitality, emotional and spiritual depth, and wide range of expression. Her works have been directed by some of the world’s finest conductors, including Gennady Rozhdetsvensky, Mariss Jansons, Keith Lockhart, Sidney Harth, Samuel Jones, and Robert Page. With major contributions to the repertoires of symphony orchestras, concert choirs, wind orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists, Galbraith continues to play a leading role in defining the sound of contemporary classical music.
Galbraith is currently Professor and Chair of Composition at Carnegie Mellon University.
Cuarteto Latinoamericano, formed in 1982, is known worldwide as the leading proponent of Latin American music for string quartets. This award-winning ensemble from Mexico consists of the three Bitrán brothers, violinists Saúl and Arón and cellist Alvaro , along with violist Javier Montiel. The Cuarteto has recorded most of the Latin American repertoire for string quartets, and the sixth volume of their Villa-Lobos cycle of 17 quartets, recorded for Dorian, was nominated for a Grammy award in 2002 in the field of Best Chamber Music Recording as well as for a Latin Grammy.
The Cuarteto has performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, the Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, the Dallas Symphony, and the Símón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela. They have toured extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, New Zealand, and Israel. The group has collaborated with many artists including cellist Janos Starker and, Yehuda Hanani, pianists Santiago Rodriguez, Cyprien Katsaris, and Rudolph Buchbinder, tenor Ramon Vargas, and guitarists Narciso Yepes, Sharon Isbin, David Tanenbaum, and Manuel Barrueco.
In 2004, Cuarteto Latinoamericano was awarded the “México en Escena” grant from Mexico’s National Fund for Arts and Culture, which they have used to develop an intense educational program in Mexico’s major professional music schools, to present a retrospective series of concerts with music for string quartet from all Latin American countries, and to collaborate with Mexican filmmakers on a series of video clips featuring quartets by Latin American composers.
Cuarteto Latinoamericano is in residence at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and recently ended a long-time residence at Carnegie Mellon University. They are represented by Thomas Gallant at MCM Artists.
Luz Manriquez was born in Santiago, Chile, where she studied with Elena Weiss at the Escuela Moderna de Música. After graduation, she continued advanced studies under Edith Fisher in Switzerland, and María Iris Radrigán at the Catholic University in Chile. Following the completion of her masters degree at Carnegie Mellon University, she joined the faculty as Artist Lecturer in Piano and Chamber Music.
In both concerts and recordings, Manriquez is the collaborator of choice for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra artists, including concertmaster Andrés Cárdenes, principal oboist Cynthia DiAlmeida, and principal bassoonist Nancy Goeres. She has recorded works by contemporary composers Nancy Galbraith, Efrain Amaya, David Stock, and Reza Vali, and frequently appears as soloist in prominent venues in Pittsburgh and Chile.