Created by violinist Lucia Lin, In Tandem is a non-profit initiative dedicated to bringing new voices to classical music through co-commissions of ten emerging composers with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.
IN TANDEM is dedicated to bringing new voices to classical music, helping to break the barriers of color in classical music, as well as introducing the younger generation to music that relates to current social issues.
When I met Gabriela Lena Frank about 20 years ago at a festival created by my music teacher Sergiu Luca, I was struck by her vision, tenacity, integrity, and musicianship. True to Gabi’s spirit, she disposed of convention and five years ago, created her own academy where the applicants’ main requirement is to express their music with heart and integrity. More recently, we spent hours talking about the inequities in classical music and the barriers she has had to overcome.
Most people of color in the United States have to deal with racism. As an Asian American, I grew up with the subtle racial discriminations that so many Asians have suffered as the ‘model minority’. We are also viewed by many as perpetual foreigners. My African American partner, formerly a police officer, has had to deal with more blatant discrimination. When a superior officer casually mentioned to my partner to do “n***** jumping jacks,” he had enough and reported the incident to his chief, crossing that thin blue line. He risked everything, spent three years fighting for justice, and saw little support from a reputably liberal and tolerant town. The experience I shared with him was eye-opening, humbling, and infuriating. It also left me feeling incredibly ineffective.
When the whole country went into quarantine, it gave me a lot more time to think about the hurdles Gabi had to overcome in the classical music world. Issues of non-diversity and elitism have been systemic in so many of the larger organizations such as symphony orchestras. As a member of the Boston Symphony, I have had to look more closely at my own lack of awareness, and as a result, my own inertia regarding truly diverse programming.
As a result, with Gabi’s help, I created the large-scale project, In Tandem.
Co-commissioning with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy, 10 composers from GLFCAM were invited to compose a short duo for violin and one other instrument of their choice, each work written to express a social cause close to each composer’s heart. My duo partners were professional musicians whose livelihoods had been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 quarantine. I had the fortune of having two of the composers perform with me as duo partners. Each virtual premiere also featured an interview with the duo composer (see the notes section for a link to each interview). It was eye-opening to learn what inspired each composer as well as the creative process in composing each duo.
It is my hope that In Tandem can raise social awareness inspired by the emotional connection to music and break the stereotypes associated with classical music. It is also my hope that this project will be a springboard to connecting other art forms with music, including visual art, dance, and literature in order to facilitate positive change and growth in our world.
— Lucia Lin