Friday, February 22, 2019
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College Solos

More difficult in several ways than the above level.

The Storyteller

composer: James Stephenson
title: The Storyteller
publisher: Stephenson Music
level: College
range: concert Bb’’

Composer James Stephenson composed The Storyteller in 2013 in memoriam to the incomparable Adolph "Bud" Herseth, the long-term principal trumpeter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Commissioned by Richard and Valerie Stoelzel for the 2013 ITG conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Stephenson quickly composed his tribute shortly after Herseth's passing. The work was premiered at the conference by current CSO principal trumpeter, Chris Martin.

The composition is a beautiful homage to the trumpet great. The work is conceived for trumpet, violin, piano, and offstage trumpet, although the piece can be performed without violin and off-stage trumpet.

The composer purposefully includes subtle samplings of famous orchestral trumpet quotes, the most notable is Stravinsky's "Song of the Nightingale".

As with many lyrical works, there are subtle challenges for the performer, including accuracy, and delicate passages. This composition also contains a wide dynamic and pitch range, with some angularity (large leaps) in a few spots. A fundamental command of the C trumpet is needed.

The musical context, melodic understanding, and the recommended performance on C Trumpet, create an excellent work for the developing undergraduate performer.


Centennial Horizon

composer: McKee, Kevin
title: Centennial Horizon (for C Trumpet and Piano)
publisher: Kevin McKee Music (
level: College
range: concert b’’

Kevin McKee has composed a new, fun, energetic piece for the modern trumpeter. Centennial Horizon was commissioned by Catherine Sheridan in 2011. The composer chose the state of Colorado, the Centennial State, as his inspiration. The work is in two contrasting movements with an interlude; the performance time is around 11 minutes in length.

There are many challenges for both trumpet and piano. In the trumpet, sonorous melodies combine with angular leaps. The performer is challenged with shaping long sustained phrases and finding suitable places to breathe. A variety of keys areas are explored, which is a great workout for an advanced high school or college student learning C Trumpet.

The final movement is quite fast in tempo and requires aggressive same-note double tonguing. Endurance is also a factor. The ultimate result is a really exciting concert piece.

Reviewer's note: I have a college student currently working on Centennial Horizon. She heard it on a recent concert by Dr. Peter Wood and ordered the score from McKee's website. New to the C Trumpet, she has really enjoyed working on the composition as part of her senior recital. She compares the difficulty and energy of the piece to sections of the Ewazen Sonata.



composer: Latham, William (1917-)
title: Suite
publisher: John Church Co. / Theodore Presser
level: College
range: c#’’’
description: Latham’s Suite consists of three short, contrasting movements: Prelude, Air, and Dance. It is in a style perhaps typical of 1950’s modern music: intervals of 4ths and 5ths predominate the thematic material to create an altered, but “tonal” sound. The Prelude is march-like (Marziale) and features double-tonguing. The Air is rhythmically simple, but melodically challenging due to the sometimes large intervals; it is also somewhat jazz-like in the harmonic content. The Dance is very fast (Presto) and features triple-tonguing; one of the most difficult spots occurs in its triumphal conclusion which contains a long trill on a#” (1st finger to 2nd is awkward). The accompaniment (a piano reduction of the orchestral score) is extremely difficult which may further limit its performance; it is however, very exciting and effective when well done.

Concert Etude

composer: Goedicke, Alexandre
title: Concert Etude
publisher: MCA Music
level: College
range: a’’
description: This piece is very fast, very dramatic, very fun, and very impressive when played well, but is not advisable for most young players due to the extended double tonguing. It is often attempted by high school students, but with the multiple-tonguing in addition to its challenging finger technique, the piece is not usually appropriate for that age. The accompaniment is also extremely difficult at tempo (Allegro molto), which limits its practicality.
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