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Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (trombone with full orchestra)

by Paul Stanhope (2017)

Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra


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Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra / Paul Stanhope.

Library shelf no. 784.2893186/STA 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

This Trombone Concerto is composed in a single movement with four interlocking sections and, as such, the material is continuous and cyclical, gradually evolving throughout the course of the piece. The solo part encompasses an amazing five octave range and was developed with the considerable input of Joshua who helped especially in the shaping of the cadenza.

Part 1 of the concerto begins with a series of super-imposed block chords, emanating out of a rumbling explosion from the percussion, which then releases to cascading string figures and then the introduction of main thematic material from the solo trombone. This is the first of a series of idea groups that are all based upon a single method of construction. The second group builds on the surging, energetic block-like material of the opening with ascending and descending phrases where the trombone solo outlines much of the material. Different groups of wind, string, percussion and brass textures interact with the solo in this section. It builds to the introduction of the third group that is a scherzando or more humorous development of small motifs derived from the main theme. Clownish figures give way to a more 'heroic' climax where the material releases to the opening block-like juxtapositions of the opening orchestral tutti.

Part 2 begins with a re-iteration of the main theme in the solo part, but instead of continuing with the energetic, pulsing figures of the first, it releases into a half-tempo more lyrical section, although with interjections from woodwind and percussion reminding us of the opening textures. Orchestral layers gradually are stripped away, revealing a series of solos, trios and quartets between the solo trombone, cor anglais, French Horn and then low brass. Solo trombone and tuba lines then sink to the lowest registers of the orchestra before releasing to an echo of rumbling percussion. The following solo cadenza makes up the entirety of Part 3 and is a chance to both develop further thematic elements in a rather introspective fashion at times, as well as to explore some of the virtuosic capabilities of the trombone including 'muliphonics', lip glisses, fast scales as well as vast dynamic changes and range contrasts.

Part 4 begins with the orchestra (rather than the solo) stating the main theme before a longer section which re-invents earlier material while also recalling some of it in a more compact way. This section reveals the main basis of pitch construction in this work which is a non-octavating scale. Upwardly moving scales and arpeggiated figures based upon this 'background' material are thrown around the various sections of the orchestra. The solo trombone returns with truncated versions of the 2nd group of material from Part 1, then a variation of the 3rd 'scherzando' group which becomes more eccentric as it progresses. The section completes to the sound of ratchets and alarm sirens. A more lyrical section for solo and orchestra follows and represents the structural climax of the work, before releasing to a short coda which scales up the tempo into a furious dance via a series of shifting rhythmic patterns. The opening material is recalled again briefly as the work concludes.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Solo trombone, piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat (2nd doubling E flat clarinet), bass clarinet  (doubling clarinet in B flat), 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), harp, strings.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Virtuoso solo trombone part; professional orchestra

Dedication note: "To Glenda Campbell-Evans"

Commission note: Commissioned for Joshua Davis, West Australian Symphony Orchestra.. Commissioned by Ken Evans as a birthday gift to Glenda Campbell-Evans

First performance: by Joshua Davis, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Asher Fisch at WASO: Paul Stanhope Trombone Concerto (Perth Concert Hall) on 17 Nov 2017

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2018 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Orchestral Winner Paul Stanhope


Resonate article: 2018 Art Music Awards - comments by judging panels by Australian Music Centre

Resonate article: Paul Stanhope wins the Tribe Symphony Award 2021 by Australian Music Centre


Performances of this work

18 Nov 2017: at WASO: Paul Stanhope Trombone Concerto (Perth Concert Hall). Featuring Joshua Davis, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Asher Fisch.

17 Nov 2017: at WASO: Paul Stanhope Trombone Concerto (Perth Concert Hall). Featuring Joshua Davis, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Asher Fisch.

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