Breathing Stone

2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba; 2010; ca. 10'

Listen to the work:

Excerpt 1:

Excerpt 2:

Excerpt 3:

Breathing Stone

Entire recording:

Download Score (pdf)   <>  Download Parts (pdf)

Note:  Parts and score available for free at the links above; if you are performing the work,

please forward me the concert information, and I will post on my upcoming performances page.

NB:  The original parts were formatted for 10 x 13 orchestral-sized paper; these are 8 1/2 x 11 for ease of printing.  A few minor formatting issues happened in the reformat, but the parts are usable.

Premiere Information:

Written for the 2010 Gene Pokorny Tuba and Low Brass Seminar at the University of Redlands.  Premiered by Michael Mulchahy (Principal Trombone, Chicago Symphony), Andrew Glendening (Dean, University of Redlands School of Music and Principal Trombone, Redlands Symphony), Randall Hawes (Principal Bass Trombone, Detroit Symphony), and Gene Pokorny (Principal Tuba, Chicago Symphony) on June 14th, 2010, in Redlands, California.

Program Notes:

I have always been attracted to ensembles that exhibit a purity of timbre; naturally, the low brass quartet proved to be an attractive ensemble for me.  In this work, I was very interested in the idea of purity-- unlike many contemporary works for these instruments, I made a conscious decision to not make use of the various kinds of timbral adjustments and techniques available to brass instruments.  That is, I let the pure sound of the instruments dominate, rather than using a great deal of mutes and extended techniques.  This was certainly a departure for me, as in many works I have used these liberally.  But the idea of purity dominates-- purity of timbre being certainly the most important aspect of that idea. 

The work is cast in a single movement, alternating between sections of intensely melodic solo work and more chorale-like sections.  A faster, contrapuntal central section provides the lynchpin of the form, after which previous material is repeated, albeit varied.  The tuba is featured as soloist twice, with the trombones creating a textural backdrop for these solos.  The opening and ending chorales are likely from where the title originates-- the sustained chords with dynamic swells give the appearance of 'breathing'; the austere, pure sound of these chorales suggested something like the purity and agelessness of stone.

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