Skip to page content

Gabriela Ortiz


About this Artist

Latin Grammy-nominated Gabriela Ortiz is one of the foremost composers in Mexico today, and one of the most vibrant musicians emerging in the international scene. Her musical language achieves an extraordinary and expressive synthesis of tradition and the avant-garde; combining high art, folk music and jazz in novel, frequently refined and always personal ways. Her compositions are credited for being both entertaining and immediate as well as profound and sophisticated; she achieves a balance between highly organized structure and improvisatory spontaneity.

Her music has been commissioned and played by renowned soloists, conductors, major ensembles and orchestras such as: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel and Esa Pekka Salonen, Zoltan Kocsis, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Alondra de la Parra, Kroumata and Amadinda Percussion Ensembles, Kronos Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Southwest Chamber Music, Tambuco Percussion Quartet, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, The Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra, The Malmo Symphony Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Dawn Upshaw, Sarah Leonard, Alejandro Escuer, Pierre Amoyal, among others. Recent premieres include: Yanga and Téenek both pieces commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, Luciérnaga (her third opera) commissioned and produced by the National University of Mexico, Únicamente la Verdad (her first opera) with Long Beach Opera and Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico. She has also collaborated with practically every orchestra, conductor, soloist and ensemble in Mexico.

Ortiz has been honored with the National Prize for Arts and Literature, (the most important award for writers and artists given by the government of Mexico), The Mexican Academy of Arts, The Bellagio Center Residency Program, Civitella Ranieri Artistic Residency; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; the Fulbright Fellowship; the First prize of the Silvestre Revueltas National Chamber Music Competition, the First Prize at the Alicia Urreta Composition Competition; Banff Center for the Arts Residency; the Inroads Commission, a program of Arts International with funds from the Ford Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mozart Medal Award. Since 2016 she is a Member of The Mexican Academy of Arts.

In 1994 she wrote the music for the choreographic work Errant Manoeuvres performed by the Emma Diamond Dance Company at the Merce Cunnigham Studio in New York and in 1995 she completed the music score for the award-winning film Frontierland produced and directed by Rubén Ortiz and Jessie Lerner. In 2000 she returned to film music with the music score for the Mexican film Por la Libre produced by Alta Vista films and directed by Juan Carlos de Llaca.

Born in Mexico City her parents were musicians in the famous folk music ensemble Los Folkloristas founded in 1966 to preserve and record the traditional music of Mexico and Latin America. She trained with the eminent composer Mario Lavista at the National Conservatory of Music and Federico Ibarra at the National University of Mexico. In 1990 she was awarded the British Council Fellowship to study in London with Robert Saxton at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1992 she received the University of Mexico Scholarship to complete Ph.D. studies in electroacoustic music composition with Simon Emmerson at The City University in London.

She currently teaches composition at the Mexican University of Mexico City and as a visiting faculty at Indiana University. She has more that 28 recordings on CD and DVD, four of which are monographic albums dedicated to her work. Her music can also be found published by Schott Music New York, Boosey& Hawkes, Ediciones Mexicanas de Música, Saxiana Presto and Tre Fontane.