A Tatar Woman Speaks Boontling

written by Adeliia Faizullina
2018 GLFCAM Cynthia Jackson Ford Fellow, Cycle 6

Gabriela, my new family fellow composers and Boonville gave me a second birth and opened my eyes again.

I started my trip to Boonville with my great wonderful friend Akshaya flying together from Austin, Texas to San Francisco California.  Akshaya is extremely talented young composer, who creates one of my favorite music.  We were studying musical composition in the same program at the University of Texas at Austin.  Our friendship is very very important and dear to me!

Akshaya participated in one of the cycles at the GLFCAM last year 2017 (Cycle 2) where she wrote a piece for violin and cello for Johnny Gandelsman and Joshua Roman.  Her experience and feelings there amazed me and now, after experiencing the Academy as part of Cycle 6 with Duo Cortona, I see and know why. I am very very very thankful and grateful with all my heart to Akshaya that she nominated me for the program and to Gabriela that she accepted me!!!

Before coming to Boonville and meeting Gabriela and my new friends composers I was close to receiving my Master’s degree in Music Composition and moving back to my home in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. I felt deep anxiety and my mind was paralyzed with questions and doubts about myself.  I’m blind, but I was making artificial limits and barriers for me by my own.  I was telling to myself that I cannot do this and I cannot do that.  

Gabriela, my new friends, the other composers in my new family in Boonville made me feel reborn and alive again. Such inspiring personal experiences of my fellow composers and their unique, charismatic and thoughtful music became alive water and fresh air for me.

When Akshaya and I arrived to San Francisco from Texas, we met fellow composers Danny Gouker and Dawn Norfleet to drive together to Boonville. I felt right away that I wanted to know them better. Their voices and personalities were very intriguing to me. Dawn and Danny were so nice and also always happy to answer and ask questions. When we arrived to Boonville, we met the other composers Timmy Peterson, Stanton Nelson and Nicolas Lell Benavides. They all were so friendly and nice even after long exhausting trips of their own and I was so excited to know them better.  Even though I have a shy personality, I always felt myself open and comfortable with all of them all the time while in Boonville. We were sharing a house and spending free time in the living room meeting, talking, chatting and cooking together. This is Gabriela’s great idea for us to live together in the same house, giving us warm and wonderful feeling that We Are Family.

Next day in the beautiful sunny morning, I first time met Gabriela, sunshine and beautiful soul that I have ever met!!! I am very very happy and thankful that I met and got to know Gabriela! She made us all equal and special. She was encouraging us a lot in a good way always telling the truth, but also pointing out the things that we can add and improve, because she was experiencing and facing them as a composer in the past as well. Gabriela is so great with helping you making your own ideas clear and effective, bringing out your own personality in your music. She is very Special and important to me! I already miss her so much!

Our presentations and readings of our music were real spiritual food for me! I was listening to everything and everybody with open mouth, absorbing everything because I was hungry exactly for this. Inspiring stories of my friends, the composers and their creativity just amazed me so much! Each of them has their own Charisma and magnetism of their personality and of their music.

When I learned that I would compose for Duo Cortona, violinist Ari Streisfeld and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway Streisfeld, as a member of Cycle Six, I was jumping and got so excited to compose for them and work with them! I am still trembling and vibrating from what they do! I am blessed to work for them! It seems they can do everything and it is always just perfect! Ari and Rachel are open for experimentation and always can find out and explain how your idea can work for them better to make it more effective. It is completely different and wonderful feeling to compose for them now after meeting them in person and hearing their excellent work and music. We all had readings of our music by them. Ari and Rachel made the reading of the draft of my piece (Water. Under. Live I) and it sounded exactly what I wanted and was imagining about my piece.

On another day during the residency, Duo Cortona gave a concert performance on the Bueno Yabbelow Music Series and it was one of the best performances in my life!  They are the most perfect musicians that I Ever Met! [Gabriela’s note: I must interject here to say that Adel graciously also performed for our Boonville audience, opening the concert.  She sang and played music on the Tatar instrument, the quray, and literally brought people to tears.] 

Over this week in Boonville, we worked and made some music all together. We cooked and had food all together. We had different conversations all together that are so important and Awakening for me. We went to see the ocean all together on the last day and the nature in Boonville is incredibly beautiful.  I met such a good people and made such good friends.

I am especially thankful that I met Joel! He helps Gabriela with this Academy. Without Joel and his personality, it couldn’t be as beautiful as it was!

I know GLFCAM is going to be something very very important in my life that will change it. It happened just in time to give me some hope. I cannot wait for final concert in December in South Carolina where Rachel and Ari teach! I cannot wait to see Gabriela and all my new friends again!

Love you all!


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Uzbekistan-born composer Adeliia Faizullina has studied as a composer, singer, vocal coach, and Tatar quray instrumentalist in Russia before embarking on studies at the University of Texas in Austin where she will receive her Master’s degree in Music Composition. Learn more on Adel's bio page.

Gabriela Lena Frank