So what is La Voce di Gabriele? It’s Italian for “red-hot trumpeter and mind-blowing harpsichordist.” More literally, of course, it’s really Italian for “the voice of Gabriel,” or “Gabriel’s trumpet,” and it is the title of the duo that will play on February 21 here in Pittsburgh.
Kris Kwapis (pronounced “Kwoppis”) is a jolly, down-to-earth specialist on early trumpets who has made a career of doing exactly what no one expected her to do. As a successful and sought-after woman trumpeter, she is a relative rarity: Kwapis, who holds a doctorate in early music performance and is in demand all over the country as a soloist, notes that only one female trumpeter has been principal in a major symphony orchestra.
Kwapis has only been performing with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani as La Voce di Gabriele for the past year and a half, but they clicked musically right away. “We were rehearsing for a concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,” she explains, “and I came into the room when he was playing a Bach chorale on the harpsichord. I thought he had four singers with him! His playing is just amazing. He absolutely blows my mind.”