Jess Turner: "Concertino Caboclo"
Born: 1983, Greenville, South Carolina
Instrumentation: Solo Flute and Wind Ensemble
Duration: 15 minutes
Concertino Caboclo [pronounced ka-BOK-lu] is one of only a handful of works for solo flute/piccolo and wind ensemble. The title is taken from a Portuguese word for Brazilians of mixed Afro-European-indigenous ancestry. Caboclo, who represents the “melting pot” character of Brazil, comprise a large percentage of the Brazilian population and hold many cultural aspects in common, including dances, songs, traditions, religious beliefs, heroic characters, foods, and mythologies. It is the latter that the composer has chosen to represent in the work’s five connected movements.
Iara, in Brazilian myth, is a beautiful river nymph with long green hair and light skin, who sings gentle songs to passing men, trying to lure them to live with her in the river. Once under the siren’s spell, mere mortal man leaves everything to come to her, only to find his life cut short by the waters. After each conquest, she sings her song again to attract another. Iara was often the explanation for men not returning from the jungles of North Brazil. The movement opens with the siren’s song in the solo flute. The melody slowly begins to unfold through the entire ensemble as the listener wanders through the forest toward the river. The music becomes the river as it rushes along into the night, gradually vanishing into the darkness while Iara’s song echoes through the forest.
The protagonist of “Negrinho do Pastoreio,” a popular legend from south Brazil, is a young slave boy who cares for his owner’s horses. After losing a horse race, the boy is brutally beaten by his cruel master and in his pain lies down. The horses twice wander away, and the young lad is again beaten and for final punishment is tied on an anthill to be tormented. After three days, the master comes to remove the boy’s body but finds him standing with his mother, alive, healthy, and untouched by the punishment. (In some versions of the story, it is the boy’s angel who is seen standing with the Virgin Mary.) The pitch bends represents the boy’s spirit as it wanders the hills of southern Brazil searching for the horses that he lost.
Caipora is often represented as a small, dark-skinned Tupi or Guarani Indian boy who smokes a cigar and has long black hair. He is sometimes described as having the head of a fox, and his feet are said to be backwards, making it impossible for enemies and hunters to track him through the jungles. As the ruler of animal life, Caipora enforces the rules of “fair play” in the jungles, whistling loudly in hunters’ ears to disorient them and lead them astray. He is often depicted tearing through the forest riding a wild boar. In this movement, Caipora is heralded by a samba rhythm in the percussion, which begins in the far distance. As he draws closer, the music grows wilder, finally erupting into a frenzy of drums and terrifying low brass. He then fades into the distance calling out warnings as he disappears into the forest.
“Iara’s Song” returns briefly before Saci-pererê, perhaps the best-known character in all Brazilian mythology, appears. A one-legged caboclo boy, Saci smokes a pipe, has holes in the palms of his hands, and wears a red cap that allows him to magically appear or disappear as he desires. Despite having only one leg, Saci is extremely quick and nimble. In Brazil he is considered a mischievous, incorrigible, sometimes malicious prankster who loves to frighten travelers or hunters in the forest before disappearing in a swirl of dust. He will, however, grant a wish to anyone who can trap him or steal his magical cap. This final movement is a Batuque, which is a dance that was brought to Brazil from the Cape Verde region of Africa. The Batuque rhythm has a distinctive two-against-three feel, which gives the music an incessant, nervous energy. Saci’s agility is on display here, as the solo flute, along with the rest of the ensemble, is required to play many difficult, angular passages. Iara’s song appears one final time before Saci returns to close the piece out with a frantic rush to the end.
The Concertino was commissioned in 2011 for flutist Tadeu Coelho by a consortium of university bands and individual donors. Bands from the following colleges contributed to the commission: Bob Jones University, Dr. Dan Turner, director; Charleston Southern University, Dr. Marshall Forrester, director; Clemson University, Dr. Mark Spede, director; Coastal Carolina University, Dr. Jim Tully, director; Concordia University of Illinois, Dr. Richard Fischer, director; Furman University, Dr. Les Hicken, director; and The Hartt School, Mr. Glen Adsit, director. We wish to thank the following donors for supporting this project: Don & Amanda Barrett, Cherith Hamilton, Laura Hayden, the John Monczewski family, Lucy Snell, Dan & Jamie Turner, and Tadeu Coelho.
- Jess Turner