Amérique du Sud


for symphony orchestra (2017-2019)
25 minutes | no.65

Amérique du Sud is the sixth part of Grand Atlas, a cycle in which each of the seven world continents is depicted in an orchestral composition.

Our journey begins in the north of Brazil with the enchanting awakening of the Amazon rainforest. The sound of wind, brooks, leaves and insects – brutally interrupted by an alouatta or howler monkey – forms the familiar accompaniment for a chorus of indigenous birds. On our way south we are hypnotized by the accelerating force of the Iguaçu waterfalls, followed by a visit to the Parque das Aves.

Crossing the border with Argentina we become eager voyeurs of voluptuous couples dancing street tango. Our jittery attention jumps from one to the other, to the other, whilst a colourful array of nostalgic evergreens and 'tango nuevo' pleasures the ears.

Our South American voyage ends in Chile, where we witness an obsessive ceremonial dance of the Mapuche, the native people of Patagonia. Hopping and trotting back and forth, the participants wear a cape and imitate the head movements of the choique, a flightless bird similar in appearance to the ostrich.

1. Brasil

Amazônia - Cataratas do Iguaçu - Parque das Aves

2. Argentina

Tango callejero

3. Chile

Danza Ceremonial (after Longko Meu)


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Commissioned by

NTR ZaterdagMatinee

Written for

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Dedicated to

Olphaert den Otter


9 April 2022
NTR ZaterdagMatinee
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Pablo Heras-Casado (conductor)



At the top of the programme, with the floor wide open, the exquisite delicacy of Rijnvos’ opening foray into his South American voyage breathed distinct life into his musical vehicle, the orchestra. Precision-orchestrated transcriptions of Amazonian rainforest creatures, derived from intricate computer analyses, the sonic form evoked hovering tightly above, oscillating skittishly from left to right. So scrupulously were the sounds formed and shaped, the size of a string quartet channelled made more sense of the sounds in front of me. I blinked; it was an orchestra. Definitely. [...] Rijnvos edged his palette increasingly outwards, shading delicacy of timbre still further, making thorough use of each timbral brush stroke. Widening the palette outwards including shadings of shadows of inflections, the wisp of a thought. A perfectly captured moment, and opening, this was, stunning. Such tight delicacy of focused sound, truly belying its sonic origin.
Suspending our disbelief for a long-extended moment, we moved then onto persuasive, charismatic sketches evoking Argentina and Chile: sumptuous tangos and kaleidoscopic colourful rhythmic rampages, a life-affirming journey of sensuous nostalgia, adventures, yet another turn in the road up ahead; a jouissance of a world savoured, to be enjoyed. Sound shimmered, jostled, and dazzled. Lush, held in the spell of what tumbled expertly before us, reaching the end of his world navigation, it was good to see Rijnvos deservedly celebrated centre stage, in his home country.

Rose Dodd, Bachtrack, 10 April 2022

Audio fragments


Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Pablo Heras-Casado - conductor


9 April 2022, NTR ZaterdagMatinee, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (NL)
by NTR Dutch Radio (reproduced with permission)

Amérique du Sud

excerpt 1

Amérique du Sud

excerpt 2

Amérique du Sud

excerpt 3

Score Excerpts