Tempest Concerto


For solo trombone and trombone ensemble. View Score

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Solemn and strange dances – concerto for trombone and trombone ensemble (8 players – 6 tenor and 2 bass trombones)

composed for Joe Alessi – principal trombone of the NY Philharmonic

The Tempest Concerto ~ strange and solemn dances

a concerto for trombone and trombone ensemble
by James M. Stephenson

duration: 15 minutes

Program Notes:
In the summer of August 2014, I received an unexpected yet very welcome phone call. It was from Joe Alessi, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic, and the request was to have me write him a new trombone concerto. Furthermore, it would be recorded in Belgium in the spring of 2015, with a trombone ensemble called The Bone Society. At my suggestion, he agreed that we contact several trombonists, to see if they would like to join in on the project. Within just a couple of days, an astounding 50 (?) players from around the world agreed to support the project, and they are listed under the supporters tab as co-commissioners. THANK YOU to each and every one of them!

The music:
About two years before this project, I had read William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, and was struck by a particular phrase in the play: “strange and solemn music”. To me, this had immediate musical appeal, and I knew that someday, I would use it for inspiration when the time came.

As a result, the concerto is a through-composed suite of three dances The outer dances, though in a quick tempo,
represent the solemn dances, being in the key of D minor. The middle movement – the “strange” one is in F, though ending in Bb minor. It is strange – not in a quirky way, as might be expected – but because of the almost-pop bass line that I chose to use to accompany the melody. The work starts with two notes, F-D, and these two notes are referenced and explored throughout the concerto. In every instant, the piece is meant to showcase Mr. Alessi’s enormous talent on the trombone, from the technical, to the lyrical, to the sound and strength of his playing. As the range of the solo part is quite extended, alternate options are supplied for trombonists who wish to employ them.
Jim Stephenson; March 2, 2015


A most sincere thank you to the following supporters – listed alphabetically – for helping to make this project a reality:
Luke Aaron
Dr. James Albrecht – Akron Trombone Association, University of Akron
Virginia Allen
Joseph Awad – MD and Bone Therapy
Dr. Mark Babbit – Illinois State University
Scott Bean
Dr. David Begnoche – TCU School of Music
Csaba Bencze
Josh Bynum – University of Georgia
Alan Carr – Concordia University Wisconsin
Paul Compton – Oklahoma State University
Justin Cook
Mark Davidson
Dr. Oscar Diaz, Jr. – The Texas A&M University-Kingsville Trombone Choir
Dr. Christian Dickinson – Indiana University of Pennsylvania Trombone Studio
Joe H. Dixon
Mark Doerffel, Grand View University
Peter Ellefson
Trey English
Dr. Bruce Faske – Arkansas State University
Dr. Antonio O. Garcia
Joshua Hauser – Professor of Trombone, Tennessee Tech University
Mark Hetzler
Rudy Hoehn
Bradley Kerns – Professor of Trombone, University of Kentucky
Mark H. Lawrence
Don Lucas
Anthony & Christy Mazzaferro – Fullerton College
Dr. Ben McIlwain – The University of Southern Mississippi: School of Music
Gretchen McNamara – Wright State University Trombone Studio
Steve Menard – Louisiana State University
Simon Mitchell – Canberra City Band
John Monroe
Daniele Morandini
Ava Ordman
Moises Paiewonsky – The University of Arizona Trombone Studio
Dr. Donald Pinson
Timothy Riordan – Merit School of Music
Jim Roberts
Joesph Rodriguez
Thomas G. Russo
Dr. John Shanks – West Texas A&M University
SliderAsia Music Festival
Tom Smee
Lindsey Smith
William Stanley – University of Colorado Boulder
Storm King Trombone Ensemble
Mark Tillinger
Dr. Bruce Tychinski
Washington Trombone Ensemble
Jonathan Whitaker – University of Alabama
Colin Williams
Jamie Williams
Michael Zion

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