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CARIBBEAN BERCEUSE for clarinet quartet and wind band by PAQUITO D’RIVERA (Cuba, 1948)

[#233] January 08, 2024

2021 | Solo and Wind Ensemble | Grade 6 | 10’ – 15’ | Solo work

Cuban cocomposer and multi-instrumentalist Paquito D’Rivera

Caribbean Berceuse, by Cuban composer and multi-instrumentalist Paquito D’Rivera is our Composition of the Week.

Caribbean Berceuse is the first composition for wind band by Paquito D’Rivera; it was written in 2021 for the Barcelona Clarinet Players, who have commissioned the work for a recording project called “Panamericano” (see article by Ignacio Pascual Moltó in WASBE World Magazine, volume 2, 2023)


The work was premiered on April 7, 2022, at the Murchison Performing Arts Center, in Denton, TX, by the Barcelona Clarinet Players, the University of North Texas Wind Symphony and conductor Eugene Corporon.


“I was born in the largest of the more than 700 islands that seem to float asleep on the very blue waters of the Antilles Sea. A true melting pot of races and cultures, the Caribbean speaks Spanish, French, English, Dutch, some Creole languages, and Papiamento, which is the main idiom in Aruba and Curaçao, whose grammar combines native American elements with European words as well as some languages of African origin. Inspired by the beauty of these lands and their soulful people, my Caribbean Berceuse pretends to be like a lullaby for a Creole child who dreams of palm trees that seem to dance to the sweet rhythms of a melody that mixes with the voices of the thousands of birds that populate this wonderful region […] The Barcelona Clarinet Players is one of my favorite musical groups, and when they asked me to compose something for the quartet and symphonic band, for some reason I almost immediately visualized the piece as the dream of a Spanish boy aboard a sailboat, sailing the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. I set to work and in the orchestration of my “Caribbean Berceuse” I included rhythmic elements and typical instruments of the region such as maracas and claves, the marimba, the very Cuban bongo and the magical and unmistakable sound of the Steel Pan, an instrument born in the 40’s, fruit of the fertile imagination of Ellie Mannette in the tiny and very musical island of Trinidad. From that luminous dream full of soft breezes, white sandy beaches, palm trees, flowers and multicolored birds, this Caribbean lullaby was born, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing it.” Program Notes by Paquito D’Rivera


Caribbean Berceuse has a duration of around 12 minutes, and it is scored for the following instrumentation:


2 Flutes (1 doubling piccolo)


English Horn

Clarinet in Eb

2 Clarinets in Bb

Bass Clarinet

2 Bassoons

SATB Saxophones

Solo Clarinet in Eb

Solo Clarinet in Bb

Solo Basset Horn

Solo Bass Clarinet

2 Horns in F

2 Trumpets in Bb


Bass Trombone




3 Percussion (Maracas, Snare drum, Marimba, Xylophone, Bongos, Suspended cymbal, Glockenspiel, Claves, Steel drums, Triangle, Bass Drum, Hand cymbal)


The work is available at Bossey and Hawkes.


Paquito (Francisco de Jesús Rivera Figueras) was born on June 4, 1948, in Havana, Cuba. At the age of 5 he began saxophone lessons with his father, Tito Rivera. In 1960, he attended the Havana Conservatory of Music, where he learned saxophone and clarinet, and met Chucho Valdés. In 1965, he was a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He and Valdés founded the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, and the in 1973, the famous group Irakere, which fused jazz, rock, classical, and Cuban music.

In early 1980, while on tour in Spain, he requested asylum with the American Embassy, leaving his home country behind.

Paquito has won a combined 16 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including Best Classical Composition for Merengue, written for cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

He is the first artist to win Latin GRAMMYs in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories.

He is a founding member/conductor of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra and former Composer-In-Residence, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Artistic Director of DC Jazz Festival.

Paquito has received many awards, including the Frankfurter Musikpreis, Guggenheim Fellowship, National Medal of the Arts, The Kennedy Center’s Living Jazz Legend Award, The National Arts Club Medal of Honor, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, and Chamber Music America’s Bogomolny National Service Award.



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