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Clarice Assad
Suite for Lower Strings

Suite for Lower Strings
Clarice Assad (b. 1978)


Born in Rio de Janeiro, Clarice Assad is one of the most widely performed Brazilian composers of her generation. A prolific Grammy Award–nominated composer with more than 70 works to her credit, she is a significant artistic voice in the classical, pop, jazz and world-music genres and is acclaimed for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range. She has been commissioned by internationally renowned organizations, festivals, and artists, including a commission from Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg for her Violin Concerto (2004).

Assad holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan School of Music. Her numerous honors and awards include an Aaron Copland Award and several ASCAP awards.

Assad describes her Suite for Lower Strings (2009) as a fantasy in five-movements based on well-known themes by J.S. Bach. She says:

The work emphasizes the string section’s lower voices, such as the viola, cello, and bass. Typically in Baroque music, the melody was given to the higher instruments—but the suite, commissioned by the New Century Chamber Orchestra, was specifically tasked to showcase the often under-used lower instruments. Each of the suite’s short movements presents Bach’s popular and recognizable melodies, often varying and combining them with elements from 20th-century styles.


  • Riveting extended techniques offering a modern twist to the familiar repertoire
  • Unconventional effects by the performers (snaps, slides, or playing on the bow’s bridge) widening the timbral palette beyond the Baroque imagination
  • New introductions, rhythmic accompaniments, added voices, occasional dissonances, and embellishments embroidering the familiar melodies