for alto trombone and chamber orchestra
This concerto was written at the request of my friend, Larry Borden, principal trombonist in the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. A devoted exponent of the alto trombone, he wished to expand its extremely limited concerto repertoire. I looked upon it as a challenge to write a piece which would explore all–or at least a lot of–the expressive possibilities of a lovely instrument that is very little written for.
Accordingly, the trombonist is called upon to play in a large variety of styles, in all ranges, using the broadest possible dynamic range, and an assortment of mutes. I have also endeavored to use the chamber orchestra to its fullest advantage, calling for, among other things, bowed piano string effects, and calling upon the back desks of the string sections to play crotales (a kind of pitched finger cymbal).
Part of the delight in composing lies precisely in these sorts of sonic “experiments,” trying to find new solutions to old problems of organization and expression. One can, of course, be tempted to overdo it and simply luxuriate in sonic novelty. I work hard at curbing that tendency, trying to make sure that my sounds fit into a convincing musical structure.