Winds of Nagual

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Written in 1985, Winds of Nagual is one of North American composer Michael Colgrass's works for Wind Ensemble. Considered a beautiful yet highly challenging piece to perform, it has become a standard of the wind ensemble/concert band repertoire. Based on the writings of Carlos Castaneda, the work consists of seven movements.

Winds of Nagual has been championed by the conductor Frank Wickes. The Canadian composer Daniel Theaker has likened this work to a painting (or a set of seven paintings) in a fine art gallery.[citation needed]

In 1985 the piece won the NBA William D. Revelli Memorial Composition Contest and Sudler International Composition Competition.


  • Movement 1: "The Desert: Don Juan Emerges from the Mountains"
    This movement is highly evocative of the opening of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. The opening sound of the Eb Clarinet is a possible reminder of the Bassoon in the Treble Clef from Stravinsky's Ballet.
  • Movement 2: "Don Genaro Appears"
    Laughter can be heard from the Clarinets in an unmistakable sound in this movement.
  • Movement 3: "Carlos Stares at the River and Becomes a Bubble"
  • Movement 4: "The Gait of Power"
  • Movement 5: "Asking Twilight for Calmness and Power"
  • Movement 6: "Don Juan Clowns for Carlos"
    Clowns from a Circus or Carnivale can be heard here - the Clarinet and Saxophone sections utilize Folk music to make sound that could remind the listener of a memory of painted up performers.
  • Movement 7: "Last Conversation and Farewell"
    A similar sounding feel to the "Great Gate of Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky



  • Battisti, Frank L. The Winds of Change: The Evolution of the Contemporary American Wind Band/Ensemble and Its Conductor. Galesville, Maryland: Meredith Music Publications. pg. 106., 2002. ISBN 978-0-634-04522-6.

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