CAROSELLO, 1994, for string orchestra, percussion & children's chamber orchestra
Commissioned by the ORT Orchestra della Toscana
Publisher: Ricordi | Duration: 18 min.
Carosello is the title of a piece by Betty Olivero written expressly for adult and children's orchestra.
Therefore, there are two different modes of writing within the piece: the more complex parts are entrusted to the adults, while the children's parts reproduce the same language, only simplified and reduced, to fit the ability of the little players.
In creating a work for children, Olivero was guided by two pedagogical principles: the principle of imitation (children take the adult's example and reproduce the musical language by adjusting it to their own level of knowledge and technical skill) and the principle of making music together (music as a social affair, a commitment, a group game).
The work is composed of six pieces that flow without interruption: Carousel, Gnomes, Chains, Towers, Traces, and Games.
The first piece, ”Carousel”, was written in contrapuntal terms and is a moderato dance in the 'passacaglia' style (the passacaglia belongs to the category of ”variations”, where a theme is frequently repeated, but each time with slight modifications and changes).
”Gnomes” introduces a different musical language that follows harmonic principles and therefore has a vertical structure. The sound of the clarinet stands out clearly by means of its ”obstinate” theme. The tempo is slow.
A passage to velocissimo-presto announces the next piece, called ”Chains”: structured like a relay-race, the melody flows from one instrument to another, changing timbres and orchestral color.
In ”Towers” the children learn to start up together through music built upon vertical chords that graphically recall a group of Towers.
The next piece, ”Traces”, presents an interesting combination of the previous two pieces: the harmonic verticality of Towers intertwines with the melodies from Chains. It is interesting to note that in Towers the double-bass resumes the same melodies that were entrusted to the viola in Chains. The difference between the agility of the violas and the heaviness of the double-bass creates a theatrical effect.
Carosello comes to an end with ”Games”. This last piece is an interlude. Based on percussion instruments, the adults and children first play the gong, bongos, drums, maracas, triangles, harness-bells and xylophone together. Then the written music vanishes, leaving room for the free interpretation of each musician, a true improvisation. Immediately afterwards, the initial theme of Carousel reappears, marking the end of the work.
The composition of the orchestra
This piece was written for a group of at least 15 professional string players (plus one percussionist), flanked by 23 children playing various instruments (wind, strummed, string and percussion).
5 first violins, adults; 5 first violins, children
4 second violins, adults; 4 second violins, children
3 violas, adults; 3 guitars, children
2 'cellos, adults; 2 'cellos, children
1 celesta, child; 4 recorders, children
4 flutes, children; 4 clarinets, children
1 double-bass, adult.
The children alternate between playing their primary instrument and various percussion instruments (gong, bongos, drums, maracas, triangles, harness-bells and xylophone).
The professional string group may also be made up of a youth orchestra, provided the members can handle the difficulties of the parts.
Each child playing a string instrument sits beside a professional and will read from the same part, appropriately divided.
In ”Games”, for percussion and double-bass, the professionals should also participate, with sticks suited to play the instrument of their junior partner.
It would be helpful if the teachers of the children playing wind instruments were present at both rehearsals and concerts.
The children should be selected on the following basis:
I Violins: 3rd-4th year of study, middle-school or high-school age;
II Violins: 1st-2nd year of study, preschool or early elementary-school age; (This part may also be divided among children with no musical experience, who will only play the percussion instruments, and others, who will only play the violin);
'Cellos, Guitars, Violas: 2nd-3rd year of study, elementary- or middle-school age;
Celesta: a 3rd-4th year piano student;
Wind instruments: 4th-5th year of study; middle- or high-school age.
The parts have been conceived so that some instruments can be substituted by others:
Recorders - by Piccolos or C Flutes;
'Cellos, Guitars - (flanked by 3 professional violists) by 3
some Harness-bells - by Maracas;
Whips - by striking 2 pieces of wood together;
Harmonicas must be in A major.