Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Band

From Wind Repertory Project
William Bolcom

William Bolcom

General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 15:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: E.B. Marks
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


1. Lively with humor - 5:50
2. Serenade - 3:40
3. Caprice - 7:50


Full Score
Solo Soprano Saxophone
C Piccolo
Flute I-VI (I-II doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-VIII
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-VI
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Piano (doubling Celesta)
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • China Cymbals
  • Crash Cymbals (small, medium and large)
  • Crotales
  • Drum Set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Snare Drum (regular and Piccolo)
  • Tam-tam (small)
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The soprano saxophone had far fewer proponents in jazz’s classical era than either the alto or tenor, and the only name that comes to mind quickly is Sidney Bechet. This has changed a great deal in the last few decades, and it helps that newer saxophones are considered better in tune and general construction than the old ones. I’ve also found the soprano saxophone to be sensitive and expressive enough to play for instance my Aubade, which was written for the oboe. It can cross the divide between classical and other music easily when asked.

I felt this concerto to be in a celebratory mood, as I feel I’m beginning to understand the band in a way I didn’t when only writing for orchestra. In the last years I’ve been exploring the possibilities inherent in the band and can say with certainty that this whole concerto would have been far different had it been first conceived for orchestra, as were my Saxophone Concerto Grosso and Clarinet Concerto before their band versions appeared.

In an orchestral milieu, even with its growing credibility in the classical world, a soprano saxophone might feel a little like an ugly duckling (which after all will present itself at the end as a swan) as soloist; the meeting might thus be somewhat confrontational and dramatic in dialogue with the orchestra, opening its own wealth of musical possibilities. In the band the soprano saxophone is totally at home and can converse with colleagues like the friendly discourse between piano and orchestra as in a Mozart concerto, and this pushes the dialogue into a more collegial direction and a very different mood. Though I can conceive that a later orchestral version could be fine, I wanted this concerto to feel right now totally like a band piece.

There are three movements in this Concerto. Lively, with humor contrasts the opening material featuring the high register of the saxophone with a more bluesy second theme in the lower part. Serenade follows with a sort of South Seas rhythm-and-blues atmosphere. Shimmy tosses itself between a jazz-type “head” with what customarily follows versus a 1960s early-rock-style hymn with 1930s echoes. These two things together grow into an apotheosis, ending the concerto.

- Program Note by composer

Commissioned by a consortium of ten saxophonists and their affiliated ensembles, under the coordination of Christopher Creviston, Gary W. Hill, and the Arizona State University School of Music

Commissioning Consortium

  • Christopher Creviston, saxophonist, Gary W. Hill, conductor; Arizona State University Wind Orchestra
  • Michael Ibrahim, saxophonist; John Hendricks III, conductor; West Virginia Wind Ensemble
  • Clifford Leaman, saxophonist; Scott Weiss, conductor, University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble
  • Joseph Lulloff, saxophonist; Kevin Sedatole, conductor; Michigan State Univerity Wind Ensemble
  • Paul Nolen, saxophonist, Martin Seggelke; conductor; Illinois State University Wind Ensemble
  • John Sampen, saxophonist, Bruce Moss, conductor; Bowling Green State University Wind Ensemble
  • Idit Shner, saxophonist, Rodney C. Dorsey, conductor; Oregon Wind Ensemble
  • Peter Sommer, saxophonist, Dr. Richard Frey, conductor; Colorado State University
  • David Stambler, saxophonist, Dennis Glocke, conductor; Penn State University Wind Ensemble
  • Kenneth Tse, saxophonist, Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia, Victor Tam, founder


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor; Timothy McAllister, soprano saxophone) – 3 February 2023
  • Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Wind Symphony (Bruce Moss, conductor; John Sampen, soprano saxophone) – 14 April 2022
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Wind Symphony (Shanti Simon, conductor; Parker Dritze, soprano saxophone) – 3 April 2022
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Anthony C. Marinello, conductor; Paul Nolen, soprano saxophone) – 26 March 2018
  • Westchester Symphonic Winds (Curt Ebersole, conductor; Christopher Creviston, soprano saxophone) – 20 May 2017
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dennis Glocke, conductor; David B. Stambler, soprano saxophone) – 27 April 2017
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Wind Symphony (Scott C. Tobias, conductor; Michael Ibrahim, saxophone) – 18 April 2017
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor; Idit Shner, soprano saxophone) – 9 March 2016
  • Arizona State University Wind Ensemble (Gary Hill, conductor; Christopher Creviston, soprano saxophone) – 2 February 2016 – *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer