Canto for Trombone and Piano that was composed by Nathaniel W. Eschler.  The title is taken from, Ezra Pounds Cantos XVII.  This work explores the contrast between light and dark.  The music and harmony of the Trombone is derived from major and minor thirds that form triads and other tri-chords. This is in contrast to the darker 12 note chord, clusters, and parallel interval structures and harmonies in the piano.  After a 15-bar solo introduction the piano enters with an arpeggiated 12 note chord that triggers various episodes.

Nathaniel earned his PhD from Brandeis University in Boston.  Recently, his foundation, Eschler Music Foundation, hosted Samuel Adler in The Living Music Project. Currently, Nathaniel is using musical narratives where multiple and varied strands of musical ideas can exist together without speaking directly to each other.

Serial in 3:4

This piece was written for me by Crystal Young-Otterstrom, commissioned by Nathaniel Eschler. Young-Otterstrom states, “I was pretty excited to write a piece for an unaccompanied instrument. It represents a unique set of challenges, having to work without verticality. I wanted to create a sense of verticality within the single melodic line. The piece is often strictly serial in some places. The 3/4 is a reference to the time signature. I realized that I had never written a piece in 3/4! I had the trombone solos from Mahler 3 in my head as well while writing this. I consider performance to be a joint compositional process between performer and composer. That’s why I like to leave a number of decisions up to the performer. I typically include an improvisational section which I didn’t this time. Instead, I wanted to leave the decision of pulse or no pulse up to the performer as well as choosing when and how to use mutes to create a “talky” sound. My music isn’t descriptive in any sense. That’s the Stravinsky in me!”

Reciprocal Measures

Reciprocal Measures was composed by Steven Roens (composition teacher at the University of Utah) and commissioned by Nathaniel Eschler and myself. Premiered in 2015.

“Reciprocal Measures divides into three sections: the first marked by a moderate tempo; the second, a slow section and muted and the third, a return to the tempo and music of the opening.  The piece is reciprocal in a number of ways:  Each of the first two sections begins with solo trombone and the last section ends with the solo trombone.  In each of the sections the trombone solo is successively shorter, being just a few notes in the last section.  The piece is also reciprocal in the relationship of the trombone and the piano, with the trombone playing slower, melodic music and the piano, more rapid, less melodic music.  The two instruments meet in the slow middle section where the piano plays, at times, almost in canon with the trombone.” Roens

In Memoriam Kennis

A piece for solo trombone and piano I commissioned  in the summer of 2007. Written by John Griffin (instructor of theory and composition at Western Michigan University), it was premiered at one of my DMA recitals on November 5, 2007.

It was written in memory of Kennis Nix, the daughter of one of my best friends from high school, Kenneth (Kenny) Nix.  I remember visiting the hospital while his wife, Kasha, was in labor with Kennis. My brother and I bought cigars to smoke in celebration of the newborn.  It was an exiting time in Kenny’s life and we were ecstatic for him.

Kennis was a beautiful young girl and touched the hearts of everyone she came in contact with during her life. In 2006 she was diagnosed with a Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET), a very rare brain tumor. After many months of fighting the disease, she passed away on June 15, 2007.

The piece begins with a slow lyric melody remembering Kennis, then goes to a playful, harmon-muted middle section, which captures her spirit; an infectious playfulness that passed to everyone with whom she came in contact.