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Works for Two Performers

  • Attention Deficit...Squirrel
  • Various Techniques
  • Icarus
  • Romanza for Saxophone and Violin
  • fragments and memories
  • Violin Sonata
  • Sonata for Trombone

Attention Deficit...Squirrel

for tenor sax and piano

Duration - approx. 5 minutes

Attention Deficit...Squirrel was written and with the assistance of Woody Witt

check back later for some info...

To be premiered in Texas in 2019

various techniques

for Oboe and English Horn

I - Prelude
II - II against III
III - a quiet interlude
IV - time for a song
V - XIMERemix

duration app. 11 min.

Program Notes:

various techniques was written for and with the assistance of Oboe Duo Agosto.

This work went through myriad growing pains on its way to completion. I had originally thought that it would include “games” that would make it fun and entertaining to young audiences, so the first three movements were created as interludes for the games I started to develop. But after many attempts, the games just didn’t seem to work with the piece, so I abandoned them for now and focused on the pure music. Once the focus of the piece was changed, the rest came easily.

Throughout my career I have often waffled between using descriptive titles and using functional titles. Although descriptive, the title is really a functional title. In this work I feel the music is complete unto itself, and needs no backstory or underlying programmatic elements.


-Ryan Jesperson



for alto saxophone and piano

Duration - approx.16 minutes

Icarus was written for and with the assistance of Joey Abad.

With a story about transformation, it seems fitting that this piece began as something else. Originally written for flute, Icarus was adapted, reworked, and reborn as an alto saxophone concerto. It uses much of the same source material from the original work, but scrambled together from three distinct movements into the single flowing movement presented here. The idea of flight and escape remains, and even though it starts fast and moving, the constant presence of gravity is never far behind, pulling the work down toward the abyss.

The work begins in flight, above the water soaring high. Slow reflection and the creep of mortality spin through the middle. The cadenza serves as a true moment of uninhibited freedom, but at a price. As Icarus fights fate the ground comes crashing from below, and the work ends with the swirling eddies of the rough sea.

Premiered in West Hartford in April 2013, performed again in Wilton, CT in Oct. 2013. Flute and Wind Band version to be premiered in CA in 2013/2014

Romanza for Saxophone and Violin

for alto sax and violin

Duration - approx. 10 minutes

Program Notes:

Romanza for Saxophone and Violin began its life as Romanza for Clarinet and Violin. For the present version I revised very little, merely adding six measures near the climax of the piece. The change in instrumentation is for Sheri Brown and Sarah Washburn, who wanted to play a duet together. This piece is dedicated to them.

Here are the original program notes for the piece...(substitute “saxophone” for “clarinet” for it to make sense)

Oscar Wilde said, “Music makes one feel romantic”. Yet this is not the case in this work; for the romance of this piece is not for the listeners in the concert hall, but for the long notes drawing from each instrument. Romanza for Clarinet and Violin is really a romance of counterpoint. The clarinet and violin play a game of give and take that ends consonant one time and dissonant the other. The melancholy sound of the piece will not supply romance, but rather rightfully reveal what romance one already has available. This effect is akin to seeing a picture in black and white and then noticing a red rose in the corner. This is largely due to the interval choices in the piece. After all, it is the beats of the major and minor seconds, thirds, sixths and sevenths that give the piece its mood. And occasionally, when a perfect interval arrives it sounds like a quiet reprieve that has been delayed for too long.

The counterpoint between the two instruments create a mix of dissonance and consonance that is made melancholy through the use of a heightened sense of chormaticism and inevitability. Repetition of long tones gives the piece a slowness that is sometimes a little awkward to the listener. But the romance is there in the interaction between the instruments. The counterpoint, although maybe not romantic to the listener, is nonetheless intimate and romantic between the instruments. And maybe, this is what Wilde meant in his quote, that music doesn’t actually create the romance, but instead makes you feel the romance that was already inherent.

-Ryan Jesperson

This version of the piece was premiered on Dec. 14th, 2010 in Hartford, CT by Sheri Brown and Sarah Washburn.

The original piece was premiered by Cheryl Melfi and Misty Elfer on September 24th, 2007 in White Hall at UMKC.

fragments and memories
{Concerto for Trombone}

for trombone and piano
(there are also versions for trombone and wind ensemble and trombone and orchestra)

available for purchase from Warwick Music

duration app. 14 min. (piano version);
17 min. (orchestrated version)

Program Notes:

fragments and memories was written for Radu Clipa, an extremely talented trombonist living in Bucharest, Romania, who also gave the international premiere of my Trombone Sonata.

fragments and memories is built upon a few basic motives. The first is a series of repeated notes that then leaps up a sixth and then back down, ending a semitone above or below the initial note. The second is a fast moving passage that eventually rests on neighbor-note figure.. From there, the trombone and piano take off in a flight of fancy, and the motives follow, changing and transforming throughout. The piece is in three larger sections, but within each section the music flows naturally, making references to things that have come before, or will be yet to come. How all of this comes together to make a coherent piece is for theorists to decode. For the listener, I strove to create easy to follow connections, and a motivic saturation that is never stagnant or boring. The title is not a reference to the form or construction, but rather an evocative title as to how the listener might come to understand the piece. My intention was to write a piece that would be fun to play, and hopefully also fun to hear.

The current version of the piece was written for trombone and piano, but throughout, my compositional intent was to write with a larger ensemble in mind. Still I wanted the piece to remain “pianistic”. Hopefully the result is a piece that sounds natural on the piano, but also infuses the listener’s imagination with possible orchestral colors and gestures.

-Ryan Jesperson


this work was written for Radu Clipa and was premiered in Bucharest, Romania on Jan 21st, 2009. It will also be performed as part of the CMU New Music Festival in March, 2009, and is the winner of the 2008/2009 British Trombone Society Composition Contest. Jordan Jacobson and HICO will premiere the orchestra version on April 20th and 22nd, 2013.

fragments rehearsal

Amanda Arrington and Tremon Kizer

Violin Sonata

for violin and piano

duration appr. 14 min.

Program Notes:

[This work was updated in 2012. Portions were changed and a new, fourth movement was added]

Violin Sonata was written for and with the assistance of Sarah Washburn, who’s dedication to craft and performance I find amazing.

Violin Sonata is a piece in the neo-classic tradition. It utilizes extended and mutated instances of tonality and form in a very abstract way. Much in the spirit of Stravinsky’s middle period, this piece also is reminiscent of Bartok, Debussy and others. My intention was not to mimic or parody, but rather to explore the idea of a sort of pure music devoid of programmatic elements and modern compositional approaches; a piece that is meant to exist simply as music, nothing more, nothing less…

So sit back, don’t get too analytical, and enjoy the music.

-Ryan Jesperson
April 21st, 2007

Violin Sonata was premiered on June 9th, 2008 by Sarah Washburn and Tamila Azadaliyeva as part of a NACUSA East Coast Chapter Concert. The recording is from a rehearsal the week before.

Violin Sonata Rehearsal

(above) Sarah and Tamila ready to perform.
(below) The dress rehearsal.

Violin Sonata Rehearsal Violin Sonata Rehearsal

Sonata for Trombone

for trombone and piano

Duration - approx. 19 min.

Program Notes:

Sonata for Trombone is a reformatting of the Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra.  Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra was originally commissioned by the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.

The “Cowiche” Concerto is intended as a journey for the trombone.  The music is held coherent throughout using a five note idée fixe that is developed and manipulated into the majority of the material presented.  Although formally broken into three movements, the music occurs continuously, with no break between movements.  In this way the music is able to change drastically, yet retain a feeling of movement.  This gives the solo a wandering feeling, as if the trombone is a hiker trekking through the Cowiche canyon.

Sonata for Trombone was premiered Oct. 11th at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA by Mark Babbitt, tbn, and Nikolas Caoile, pno.

Mark Babbitt and Nikolas Caoile

Mark Babbitt and Nikolas Caoile
Mark Babbitt, tbn. Nikolas Caoile, pno.

Upcoming Performances

April, 2020: CANCELLED! Janet and Jordan Jacobson will premiere a new violin and trombone concerto called And Violet Makes Three with the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra at The Hartt School.

October 10th, 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Vršac, Serbia.

October 9th, 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Sombor, Serbia.

October 8th, 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Niš, Serbia.

October 7th, 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Pirot, Belgium.

October 6th, 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Smederevo, Serbia.

October 4th,2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Belgrade, Serbia.

September 2019: Prometheus Duo will perform Icarus in Redding, CT and Bloomfield, CT.

August 24th, 2019: Boombox Serenade will be performed by Dan D'Addio at Hartford Artspace Gallery.

Spring 2019: Attention Deficit...Squirrel will be premiered by Woody Witt and Pamela York in Texas.

May 14th, 2017: High Times for Low Brass will be premiered at the New Britian Museum of Modern Art.

April 29th, 2017: What we talk about when we talk in 140 characters will be performed by HICO at The CT Historical Society in Hartford, CT.

April 12th, 2017: What we talk about when we talk in 140 characters will be performed by HICO at Eastern Connecticut State University.

March 9th, 2017: Concerto for Trombone "Cowiche" will be premiered by Matthew Russo and the UCONN Symphony Orchestra at the UCONN campus in Storrs, CT.

February 2nd, 2017: Boombox Serenade will be performed by Dan D'Addio at CCSU in New Britain, CT.

October 1st, 2016: From Sabres to Satellites will be premiered by US Army MI Corps Band in New Mexico.

April 30th, 2016: Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops? will be premiered by Glen Adsit and the Hartt Wind Ensemble.

October 10th, 2015: but in this dark night I am stationary and time is a river will be premiered by Elisabeth Halliday and The Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra.

June 6th, 2015: Souvenirs/Miniatures will be premiered at June in Buffalo.

May 14th, 2015: David Tayloe and Marko Stuparevic will premier A Page Out of Zen in West Hartford, CT as part of ACF's "Composers Night Out".