Concertos for Bass Trombone and Orchestra or Wind Ensemble! Sleeper, Sleeper, Raum & de Meij

As a classical chamber musician, I was largely unprepared to enter the world of concertos-rare enough for a bass trombonists in the first place! I was blessed to have exceptionally sensitive conductors who were open to suggestions and communicated well with me. I was also blessed to perform with fellow musicians, many former or current students, who might accept a turn of phrase or concept from me.

Six Arias for Bass Trombone and Orchestra, by Thomas Sleeper, as performed by soloist David Brubeck and the FAUSO under the direction of Dr.Laura Joella. AUDIO:

I was the lucky one!

Others have reported experiences of just showing up and reading through the concerto in rehearsal with few opportunities for the types of interactions that chamber music often affords. With 50-100 people waiting, there is simply very little time to invite discussion on nuance or phrasing.

Bass Trombone Concerto No. 2, by Thomas Sleeper, world premiere by soloist David Brubeck and the FAUSO under the direction of Dr. Laura Joella. AUDIO:

My suggestion? Rehearse with a fine pianist and a piano reduction. Get all the exploration worked through on your own and later with the pianist, finding the give and take of phrases, crests of dynamics, welling of emotions and strata of musical importance. Then pray for a sensitive conductor!

Bass Trombone Concerto, by Elizabeth Raum, as performed by soloist David Brubeck and the Miami Symphonic Band under the direction of Robert Longfield. USA premiere & world premiere of concerto with wind ensemble accompaniment. AUDIO:

As you can hear, my prayers were answered. WHAT A TREMENDOUS privilege to be the soloist to whom a concerto was dedicated by my beautiful friend and long time colleague, Tom Sleeper, alongside the FAUSO and conductor Dr. Laura Joella. We love you, Thomas, and think of you often. Thanks for all of your beautiful humanity-and some of it was audible!

“Canticles” by Johann de Meij for Bass Trombone and wind Ensemble as performed by soloist David Brubeck with the MDC Wind Ensemble under the direction of Brian Neal. VIDEO:

Bass voices are fragile, and problematic for the concerto, but skilled composers allow the mellow sounds to soar and find niches of resonance for the bass voice to inhabit with alacrities both great and small.

Soloist plus orchestra! The concerto was the FIRST significant form of ensemble instrumental concert music, and strikes a perfect blend between recognizing of the outstanding contributions of the individual AND the society.

It is still somewhat difficult to find bass trombone concertos, especially live! This is what I would have been looking to listen to when I was a boy…Album III Concertos!


Ipuwer Papyrus (IP), LEIDEN 344. Was the writer Ipuwer an Egyptian, circa 1440 BC, who described the plagues of Exodus and their aftermath from the Ancient Egyptian Perspective?


  1. Ipuwer Papyrus , IP-“There is blood everywhere…Lo the river is blood.”/mirrored in Exodus 7:20-21
  2. IP-“One thirsts for water.”/also recorded in Exodus 7:24
  3. IP-“Lo, trees are felled, branches stripped.”/reflects Exodus 9:24
  4. IP-“Lo, grain is lacking on all sides.”/ like Exodus 9:31
  5. IP-“Birds find neither fruits nor herbs.”/similar to Exodus 10:15
  6. IP-“Groaning is throughout the land, mingled with laments.”/ sounds like Exodus 12:30
  7. IP-“Lo, many dead are buried in the river, the stream is the grave, the tomb became a stream, and he who puts his brother in the ground is everywhere.”/ is reflected in Numbers 33:4
  8. IP-“All is ruin!”/ seems related to Exodus 10:7
  9. IP-“The land is without light.”/ Could this be Exodus 10:22-23.
  10. IP-“Gold and Lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze…are fastened on the neck of female slaves.”/seem to correlate with Exodus 12:35-36
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