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Tocata & La Tumba de Alejandro Garcia Caturla

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Shelley Hanson

Shelley Hanson

This work is the first and fourth movements of the suite Islas y Montañas.

General Info

Year: 2001
Duration: c. 7:20
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $120.00   |   Score Only (print) - $12.95


1. Tocata – 1:49
2. La Tumba de Alejandro Garcia Caturla – 5:50


Full Score
C Piccolo 1-2 (Piccolo 2 is optional)
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (optional)
English Horn (optional)
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
B-flat Cornets I-II(optional)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Harp or Synthesizer (optional)
Percussion, including::

  • Bongo (or bass drum or floor tom)
  • Marimba (optional)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone (optional)

Players clapping and making other rhythmic noises


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Shelley Hanson originally composed Islas y Montañas for orchestra. Tocata is the first movement and functions as a fanfare or introduction. It features the entire ensemble clapping rhythmic patterns based on the Cuban 3/2-clave rhythm. It's a great way to get the crowd ready for La Tumba de Alejandro Garcia Caturla, originally the fourth movement from Islas y Montañas. It is beautifully transcribed here for concert band. It is a musical rumination about Cuban composer Alejandro Garcia Caturla (1906-1940) who studied with Nadia Boulanger but was later assassinated while presiding as a judge. It opens with a haunting English horn cadenza followed by harmonic shifts, intense soli writing and driving rhythms that sweep through the ensemble.

- Program Note from publisher

Tocata is a fanfare based on the music of Caribbean people of African descent. Many traditional rhythms of the Santeria religion are incorporated in this piece. Although “tocata” is the word used in Spanish for fanfare, it is also used here in the sense of its root meaning, “touch.”

Like so many other composers from the Americas, [Alejandro Garcia] Caturla studied briefly in Paris with famed teacher Nadia Boulanger. Fascinated with Afro-Cuban music and especially that of the Santeria religion, Caturla used complex folk rhythms, polytonality, dissonant chords often build in fourths or fifths, pentatonic scales, and a very limited melodic range such as that used by Santeria singers. In the tradition of the French tombeau, a memorial piece, this piece pays tribute to Caturla [who died at the age of 34] by incorporating many of the elements of his style. The Spanish equivalent term, “tumba,” also is used for the large conga drum. Programmatically, this tumba seeks to intermingle the tragic loss of Caturla with references to the Santeria bembé, funeral rites, and particularly the characteristics of the goddess Oya. She is the goddess of the wind, and of the cemetery; she can be the gentlest of breezes, or the angriest of hurricanes. Traditional poetry of praise to Oya refers to her as one who guards the frontier between life and death; she can be a nine-headed apparition, associated with nine flashes of lightning. The first part of the piece depicts mourners calling out to Oya, the fast section that follows shows the results of her appearing to them in earthly form. The ending refers to the conclusion of the Santeria mourning process, which involves taking a plate outside and publicly smashing it nine times to free the spirit of the deceased. Musically some of Oya’s rhythms are quoted, as is the Christian Dies Irae; and the two eight-bar themes on which the piece is built incorporating a rising interval of a fourth associated with an invocation to Oya, as well as the initials AGC.

- Program Note from liner notes of Mark Masters CD Raritonality, Rutgers Wind Ensemble


State Ratings

  • Texas: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Southern Adventist University (Chattanooga, Tenn.) Wind Symphony (Ken Parsons, conductor) - 16 April 2023
*Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic  Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor) – 29 March 2022

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Hanson, S. (2001). Tocata: La tumba de Alejandro Garcia Caturla (from Islas y montañas) [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: New York.