Clarice Assad


(2012) Album De Retratos

Commissioned by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra for the Assad brothers c.a. (23 minutes)

Program Notes

Album de Retratos, (Family Portraits) is based on my grandmother’s family photo album. What inspired me to write this work was the death of my grandfather.  When he passed away in June of 2011, I was hit by an enormous sense of loss.  For the following weeks, I carried several pictures of him.  These photos had been taken at different times in our lives, and I could see how much we had changed throughout the years, how time had done its insatiable job.  Photos can freeze thousands of memories and moments, which we recall in a split second from looking at a single print.  But a picture is just a picture.  More important are the memories and the events that took place when a picture was taken.
But what happens when too much time goes by and following generations can no longer remember or identify the person in the photo?  I have looked at pictures of unrecognizable faces of people who were related to me, but because I don’t know much about them, their images and stories will eventually fade into oblivion. This thought and the fact that this piece was written for two exceptional members of my family–my father and uncle Sergio & Odair Assad–led me to the idea of preserving some of these memories in the form of music.

Although the memories I speak of might only make actual sense to my family and to me, I know that when translated into music, the meaning become something entirely different for someone who is purely listening to the music itself.  Ultimately, no one even needs to know what inspired a musical composition to be created to feel something.  And this is what is so fantastic and amazingly powerful about music: It can stand on its own and is able to convey many emotions, detached from everything else.


2 Flutes (2nd doubles Piccolo) 1 Oboe
1 English Horn
2 Bb Clarinets
2 Bassoons

1 Horn in F
1 Trumpet in C


Two Guitars

2 Percussion:

Please Note: Percussion I and II share the instruments marked in bold
I. Aquaphone, Timpani, Susp, Cymbal, Lg. Tam Tam (+ bow and a metal coin), Sizzle Cymbal, Woodblocks, Marimba, Toy Train Whistle, 2 Crystal Glasses, Vibraslap

II. 22’ Ocean Drum, Vibraphone, Tubular Bells, Triangle, Tambourine, Hi-Hat, Splash Cymbal, Snare Drum, Whip, Med. Bass Drum (kick) (+ muted to sound dry) Large Bass Drum, 2 Toms (low and medium)



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