ARCO-ÍRIS (Pestana/Carvalho)

Project Description

Duarte Ferreira PestanaArco-Íris (Popular Fantasy No.2 for wind band)
Luís Carvalhore-instrumentation for symphony orchestra

orchestra: **2*2*32 – 3sax.[2alto+1tenor] – 4331 – timp. – 4 or 5 perc. – strings

  • composition date (Pestana): 1952
  • re-instrumentation for symphony orchestra (Carvalho): 1997-1998
  • duration: ca. 15 min.
  • detailed orchestration:
    • 2 Flutes (doubling 2 Piccolos) / 2 Oboes (2. doubling English-horn) / 2 Clarinets in Bb /
      Bass-clarinet in Bb / 2 Bassoons / 2 Alto-saxophones in Eb / Tenor-saxophone in Bb / 4 Horns in F /
      3 Trumpets in Bb / 2 Tenor Trombones / Bass-trombone / Tuba / Timpani / 4-5 Percussions * / Violins I / Violins II / Violas / Violoncellos / Double Basses* percussion details:

      1. snare-drum; tam-tam; susp.-cymb.; 2 temple-blocks
      2. cymb. a2; tam-tam; triang.
      3. bass-drum
      4. tam-tam; tambourine
      5. [optional] xylophone; extra snare-drum
  • premiere: 11/July/2015 | Viana do Castelo, Teatro Municipal Sá de Miranda | Viana do Castelo Professional School of Music Symphony Orchestra [Arte Orquestral] | dir. Luís Carvalho

«Arco-Íris» (Portuguese for «Rainbow»), the second of six popular fantasies by Duarte Ferreira Pestana composed for wind / military band, has become an icon of the Portuguese original repertoire conceived for this instrumental format. The quality of its inner musical construction, perfectly intertwined with a melodic inspiration well rooted in the popular taste, earned the composer a singular place as one of the very first great composers for wind band in Portugal.

The idea for the present re-scoring emerged from the awareness of the intrinsic quality of the piece in its original form and a desire to broaden its target audience. At the same time, the intention is also to value this unique and centenary heritage of the Portuguese music that is the wind bands tradition, bringing one of its most inspired musical creations closer to a, so to say, nobler instrumental medium, as is the symphony orchestra. Moreover, for a long time the present author had been approached about the possibility of realizing a re-instrumentation the likes of the present, often justified precisely by the musical quality of the work.

Being «Arco-Íris» a composition in its origin already orchestrally conceived (in this case for wind band), the present re-instrumentation for symphony orchestra is what in cinematography one would call a remake; that is to say, a new look on a previously existing work of art. In fact, both structurally as in terms of the musical discourse, this new version is totally faithful to the original, presenting ‘novelty’ only in what regards to the sound colour (timbre), namely by the inclusion of the string instruments. Incidentally, the orchestral forces elected here are, as it were, those of the traditional symphony orchestra with all the usual woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings groups represented, but now with the inclusion of three saxophones, in an attempt to transport some of the original wind band colourfulness into the orchestral version. Thus, the saxophones ultimately represent a pivotal position between the two versions (original for band/re-instrumentation for orchestra), for while enriching the orchestral symphonic pallette they also carry some of the original DNA of the band version.

The present proposal for a new reading of «Arco-Íris» by Duarte Ferreira Pestana aims, on the one hand, to contribute for a greater circulation of quality Portuguese repertoire written specifically for band / wind orchestra, while at the same time extolling the secular dedication of the amateur band world to the passing-throw of musical knowledge to new generations, that has been the base of growth to many of the most renowned Portuguese musicians in all historical epochs.


  • buy sheet music / rental materials:
    [contact the composer here]
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