Estelí Gomez on "persona"

Esteli GomezWe first worked with the amazing Estelí Gomez in April 2015 when we premiered Nico Muhly’s How Little You Are with Conspirare and Texas Performing Arts. Bouncing around the globe, Estelí is a highly sought-after soprano who spent the past month in Ojai, California premiering a new opera. As you’ll witness on Saturday, she has a magically transporting voice and artistry and from the first moment we heard it we dreamed of having an opportunity to work with her again. And that time is now.

We asked Estelí to tell us a bit about herself and her music-making:


On combining words and music into something more than the sum of their parts:

I grew up with two bilingual teachers for parents - my mother’s focus often on English language and grammar, and my father’s on Spanish poetry and literature. Spoken and sung poetry were ever-present and valued, especially in Spanish and English; but it wasn’t until I went away to college that I began studying and appreciating classical art song, in many other languages. I love everything about the sung-poetry art form, so it’s tough to pinpoint the magic.

I would have to say, setting words to music allows both audience member and performer to relate on so many levels, which may be varied and complex: intellectual, emotional, aesthetic. The meaning of the words is illuminated by a universal music-language, and vice versa. Any chance to delve into a poem, sung or spoken, and ask, what does this mean? How do I feel about it? Do I find it beautiful, ugly, meaningful? And then, to get to ask such questions to, for, alongside a room full of friends and/or strangers…that is totally magic.

On making music with other great singers:

There is definitely something special about shaping sung sounds with other always unique, hyper-flexible voices. This past fall I had the pleasure of performing with UT Austin’s incredible wind ensemble, under the direction of Jerry Junkin, and felt extremely at home when I realized the impetus for breath and onset had to be just as specific yet relaxed (ideally!) as when singing with other singers. The voice is an extraordinarily flexible instrument, yet so specific and personal to the individual; in Conspirare and Roomful of Teeth, both, I have the pleasure of trying on different genres and styles and techniques, with incredibly innovative and creative colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for ten years. I love that experience, and that challenge.

On how singing with guitar player Colin Davin is special for her:

Both my father and grandfather play guitar, so I’ve always had a lot of love for singing with them. Colin is a miraculously gifted player and I still marvel that I get to call him duet partner - he not only coaxes the most beautiful, genuine sounds and shaped phrases from his instrument, but is one of my favorite road-trip buddies, ever, hands down. I’m so grateful to our mutual friend Caroline Shaw for introducing us!

On her thoughts about working with Joe Williams’ score and Pessoa’s poetry on persona:

I love the concept of trying to portray different characters in each song of the set, and have been exploring stylistic ways to do so. Joe has maintained his voice beautifully throughout, while still creating varied landscapes; it will really be fun to explore and create the sound-world of each movement with this great group of instruments and minds. I’m so looking forward to it!

On her hopes for connecting with the audience:

I hope our audience will feel welcome and inspired to connect with us after the performance! I think of concerts as more of a dialogue than a formal performer-audience relationship. We are friendly!

If you don’t already have your tickets, you can get them online here or call us at 512-300-2247. You can also join us at BookPeople for our Artist Lunch on Wednesday, June 22nd at 11:30 to learn more about the texts and music Estelí will perform Saturday night.