Clarice Assad


(2017) Sin Fronteras

Duration: 12 minutes | Commissioned by the Chicago Sinfonietta for the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater

Program Notes

SIN FRONTERAS emerged from a utopian state of mind in which I found myself one day, daring to erase imaginary lines that disconnect us geographically, culturally, and morally: Boundaries that the human race has willingly subscribed to for thousands of years. But what would happen if the walls that separate us from getting to know one another were not there? While this idea would generate a fair amount of confusion in the real world, in the realm of music of the 21st century, this does not need to be so!

As a South American woman living in the United States for two decades, I chose sounds of places that felt closest to home: The Americas. In SIN FRONTERAS, we journey from the bottom of South America, traveling up both coasts and navigating to the Northern hemisphere via Central America. The piece follows no storyline, but its central concept begins with a shocking reaction between two or more distinct cultures coming into contact for the first time. After the initial resistance, everyone collectively begins aggregating each other’s ethnic fragments into their culture spheres to create something new – while still preserving their original roots.

The piece accomplishes this amalgamation effect by taking advantage of an old-time favorite musical form: Theme & Variation. Though It may not fit precisely into the cookie cutter format of this old tradition, there are several moments in the piece where familiar sounds, melodies, and motifs come and go, grounding the listener for a moment before morphing into something new.

I am deeply grateful to have been trusted to write this piece for the Sinfonietta and genuinely excited to work with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater company, which created a choreography, especially for this piece.



2 Flutes/doubling piccolo
English Horn
Bb Clarinet (2)
Bassoons (2)

Perc 1 , 2, 3*



Horn in F (4)
Trumpet in C (2)
Trombone (2)



*cabasa, drumset, hi-hat, snare, toms, tam-tam, maracas, castanets, vibraslap, vibraphone, xylophone, woodblock, suspended cymbal, sizzle cymbal, triangle, bass drum, congas, marimba



Sin Fronteras opens with a delicious darkness, but eventually dances its way through the Americas with complex, syncopated rhythms alternating with outbursts of addictive tunes. One might say it as if 70s TV theme music collided head-on with a runaway wagon of sophisticated jazz harmonies. Although loaded with intriguing woodwind moments and lusciously descriptive string work, one was drawn to the vigorous mallet-ed percussion textures, in this case, a showcase for the KSO percussionists.

Arts Knoxville

Aspen Times | ArtsKnoxville | Daily Colorado News | Chicago Sinfonietta TRADEMARK

Clarice Assad, Sin Fronteras, also took us on a journey from the tip of South America and through time, but in this case with accompanying choreography from Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater that drew heavily from the various social and folk dancing styles throughout the Americas.

Picture This Post

 “without borders” – musically, culturally or geographically. The piece was stuffed with influences from throughout the spectrum,” stated Manis.“Sin Fronteras” additionally performs a job in broader discussions of the world of music over the previous 120 years.

Daily Colorado News

Join the Clarice Assad
Mailing List