Two World Premiers: One Day

Yesterday I took a trip up into Yorkshire to Beverley where the British Trombone Society was holding a Trombone Day. I will talk more about the trombone day in more detail in a later blog, but for the moment I would like to focus on just a few small aspects of the day.

After lunch, we were visited by James Stretton and his newly formed ensemble, ‘A Bit on the Slide’ who were to demonstrate a variety of different pieces to showcase the versatility of the trombone and the trombone ensemble.

Two of the pieces played were in fact world premiers, and it was a privilege to have been there to listen to these wonderful pieces of music.

The first piece (although this was played second out of the two) was a piece called ‘Antiphon’ composed by James Stretton. A cleverly written piece using two antiphonal trombone trios, both playing in an early music style. The piece begins with a rather lively and polyphonic baroque motif. This slowly builds from the solo trombone at the start adding in the second trombone and alto trombone building to the end of the section.

At this point the second trio takes over playing a much more homophonic style, once again with a baroque sort of feel to it however in a much more choral style. This exchange goes back and forth once again followed by a section with both trios playing their motifs together. The end of the piece reprises both themes layered

together in a spectacular and very effective way. I thought this was a very cleverly written piece and the contrast between the more lively and ‘dirty street music’ as Jim put it against the more solemn and religious styles from the same period.

The second world premier (and this was of course the first one) was a piece called ‘Seaside’ by American composer, Joseph Russo. The piece is made up of three movements;

The first movement while giving an impression of the calmness of the ocean also gives the listener the sense of the underlying danger that the sea possesses. It is really easy to imagine yourself sitting at the seaside, as the composer did while composing this piece, watching the water ebb and flow onto the beach and back out to the sea.

The second movement starts with a single repeated note, and gradually expands across the quartet, filling the air with sound and rich texture which really gives the image of the calm and peace of the surface of the water, and at the same time giving you the sense of just how great and vast and awesome the ocean is.

The third movement expresses the joy, pride and honour of those who spend their lives at sea. Listening to the movement you can’t help but get a sense of the excitement, fear, joy, danger and all the other contrasting emotions that a sailor might feel while out at sea, but at the same time realise that there is a nobility that comes with continuing this fine tradition which has been happening for centuries. You can almost hear the waves crashing with each pedal note from the bass trombone. The overlapping rhythms and motifs in this movement really allow the piece to climax with a slight accelerandoto the final chords of the piece. A fitting end to a wonderful piece of music.

A real joy to have listened to both of these works!


Composer: James Stretton
1.1 James Stretton (Alto)
1.2 Claire Taylor (Tenor)
1.3 Richard Bond (Bass)
2.1 Richard Walker (Tenor)
2.2 Warren Belshaw (Tenor)
2.3 Iain Jackson (Bass)


Composer: Joseph M. Russo
1. Richard Walker (Tenor)
2. Claire Taylor (Tenor)
3. James Stretton (Tenor)
4. Richard Bond (Bass)










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