For solo trombone and trombone ensemble.

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For solo Trombone and Trombone Ensemble
by James M. Stephenson

duration: ca. 4:30 minutes instrumentation:

solo tenor trombone
ensemble: 5 tenor trombones, 2 bass trombones

Program notes:


Once again, I am privileged to write a new work at the request of David Begnoche, professor of trombone at Texas Christian University. Dave also commissioned my trio for trombone, piano and percussion – “New England Scenes” – a piece of which I am very proud to this day.

The music:

Dave’s request – in featuring Megumi Kanda of the Milwaukee Symphony – was to write “3-4 minutes of colorful music, even a little edgy, all trombone fun”. On listening to Megumi’s playing, I quickly realized that she has a beautiful sound and a wonderful lyrical quality that is quite extraordinary. Putting these two facet together – Dave’s request and Megumi’s style – would be my job in composing “Red”.

From my own experience – and perhaps from the time period in which I grew up – I can’t help but think of red without including a military sense. Therefore, the piece has an almost constant march feel to it, also with some anger imbued within (red as an angry color). However, I chose to make the
march in 5/4 time, if for no other reason than to mix things up a little bit.
Red is also a color most often seen in sunsets, so I wanted to be sure to include some colorful lyrical opportunities in the work, so as to allow Megumi’s aforementioned qualities shine through.
I also wanted to be sure to keep the mood of the piece triumphant, a suggestion inherent in Dave’s request for the piece. The piece is to pair with another solo and trombone ensemble piece of mine entitled “Blue” (so that a metaphorical mix would result in purple, TCU’s color!). That one, “Blue”, is more laid back and “bluesy” (imagine that!), so contrast was necessary. Also important to me was intricate and involved parts for the ensemble, so that the students would enjoy the musical collaboration with the soloist.

The result is “Red”, a work composed with admiration for Megumi Kanda, and also with respect and thanks to David Begnoche, a wonderful lifelong friend and musician. Jim Stephenson; February 12, 2016

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