Instrumentation: 3 Flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 4 trumpets in Bb, 3 trombones, tuba; 4 percussion (I=xylophone; II=glockenspiel, III=vibraphone; IV=cymbals and bongos), piano; double bass
Peermusic Classical, BMI (Americas and Asia)
Faber Music (Europe, Australia and New Zealand)
Duration: 5 minutes
World Premiere: February 1992 / National Conference of the College Band Directors National Association / Kansas City, Missouri / Stephen F. Austin University Symphonic Band / John Whitwell
Desi (1991) was composed for and premiered by the Stephen F. Austin State University Symphonic Band, conducted by John Whitwell at the 1991 CBDNA in Kansas City, Missouri. Since then Desi has been widely performed in America by ensembles ranging from the U.S. Marine Band to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and abroad by ensembles including the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and the Zurich Tonhalle-Orchester.
This work is a tribute to the persona of Desi Arnaz (1917-87), who played the Cuban bandleader Ricky Ricardo alongside his wife Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy, widely regarded as one of the most innovative television comedy shows of the 1950s.
The opening rhythmic motive is derived from the conga dance made famous by Arnaz when he sang and played bongos in Hollywood film musicals in the 1940s. In Desi the bongo soloist and percussion section provide a lively counterpoint to intricately structured musical canons and four-note cluster chords, creating polyrhythmic layers that intensify and build to a sizzling conclusion. Desi evokes a Latin sound punctuated by big band trumpets, trombone glissandi, and dazzling woodwind runs.