• Dennis Hourcade
  • June 17, 2021

Darwin Aquino discusses his new work Caribe 102

Caribe 102

For String Orchestra and Percussion

Family is everything in life.

Caribe 102 is dedicated to the long and laborious life of my grandfather Geronimo Aquino. He was a farmer for most of his life in a little town called “Bani” in my country, the Dominican Republic.  The musical inspiration for this piece comes from an original “Canto de Conuco” (farmer’s chant) from my homeland. It is part of our folklore, and it depicts the fusion of our Hispanic and African cultural heritage.

Why 102?  My grandfather was that age when he passed away in January 2021. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to fly to my country to be with my family as I would have wanted to. This is my truthful way to honor his memory, celebrate his life, and thank him for all the sacrifices he made for us.

Let’s talk about the music now! The farmer’s chant melody is from the 1940’s and ties together the entire piece, which is divided into three short sections. At Dawn starts the music with a hesitant dialogue between the strings and the percussion.  It is as if a person would not want to wake up to go to work in the morning. This dreamy mood is expressed by a tender solo in the viola and double bass. A sudden shift takes us into the second section, In Land. Now, hard at work, we hear the chant in both a more sensitive and a tougher manner, which rushes to connect with Early Evening: Merengue. This final part is a joyful celebration, created as an improvisatory “fiesta”, that explodes into sound colors of the Caribbean and rejoices in the results of a full day of honest work.

There is a touching and one-of-a-kind surprise at the very end of the piece. I will let you discover it!

Te amo mucho Abuelo. Gracias por todo.

Darwin Aquino, Italy, June 2021

Caribe 102 was commissioned by the Fort Zumwalt North High School Orchestra as part of a Diversity/Inclusion/Equity educational project highlighting Latin music and culture.  It was premiered in May 2021.

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