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John Mackey

John Mackey

General Info

Year: 2005
Duration: c. 8:55
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts (Rental) - $375.00   |   Score (Purchase) - $60.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (must have the low C)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Tubas I-II
String Bass
Accordion (optional)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum (large)
  • Bongos
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotale (1 pitched in F)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Guiro
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Ratchet
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Steel Drums (optional but preferred)
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks (low, medium, high)
  • Trap set
    • Cymbals (suspended crash, splash, ride, hi-hat)
    • Kick Drum
    • Snare Drum
    • Tom-toms (2)
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip (2)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Sasparilla is my first “fully original” work for wind ensemble. I’d written one other wind piece prior to this (Redline Tango), but that was a transcription of an orchestra work. With Sasparilla, the primary request from the commissioning consortium was to write something “new for band,” so I approached the piece with the goal of writing something that took advantage of the wonderful sounds than only a concert band can make.

“Sasparilla” was a type of liquor served in saloons in the Old West. It has since become a non-alcoholic root beer-like beverage, and if the listener happens to be under the age of 21, I suggest you choose the latter description. Whether it be from bad liquor or terribly funky soda, Sasparilla tells the tale of an Old West saloon, and the specific tale seems to vary, depending on the listener. Some hear a pony who drinks from a fermented trough and goes on a joyride to Tijuana. Some hear a cowboy who can’t hold his drink. Some suggest the Old West as viewed through the eyes of the old Warner Brothers cartoons.

Regarding the spelling ... although I would never be one to win a spelling bee, I realize that the “correct” spelling is “sarsaparilla,” but there are two other slangified spellings -- “sarsparilla” and the one I’ve chosen, “sasparilla.” Although only one would win you a spelling bee, “sasparilla” looked best in print!

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) - 25 February 2023
  • Manhattan Wind Ensemble (New York, N.Y.) (Sarah Fernandez, conductor; Jo Ellen Fusco, solo) - 10 December 2022
  • University of South Florida Symphonic Band (Tampa) (Tina DiMeglio, conductor) - 3 November 2022
  • Austin (Tx.) Symphonic Band (David W. Clemmer, conductor) - 3 April 2022
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 18 April 2019
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Symphonic Band (Anthony Falcone, conductor) – 6 December 2018
  • New Hammer Concert Band (Stockton, Calif.) (Eric Hammer, conductor) - 30 September 2018
  • Augustana University (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Band (Christopher Unger, conductor) – 11 November 2017
  • China Spring (Tx.) High School Wind Ensemble (Pam Hyatt, conductor) - 10 February 2017 (2017 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Symphonic Winds (Dennis Llanás, conductor) – 13 October 2016
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Symphony (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 23 February 2016
  • Musikhochschule Trossingen, Germany (Alexander Beer, conductor) - 28 February 2015
  • Tennessee Tech University (Joseph Hermann, conductor) - 15 February 2008
  • University of Colorado-Boulder (Matthew Roeder, conductor) - 12 February 2008
  • Henderson State University (Jesse Leyva, conductor) - 1 February 2008
  • University of Delaware (Robert Streckfuss, conductor) - 4 December 2007
  • Dallas Wind Symphony (Jerry Junkin, conductor) - 23 October 2007
  • California State University, Long Beach, Wind Symphony (John Carnahan, conductor) – 16 March 2006 (CBDNA 2006 Western/Northwestern Division Conference, Reno, Nev.)
  • Atlanta (Ga.) Youth Wind Symphony (Scott A. Stewart, conductor) – 15 December 2005 (2005 Midwest Clinic)
  • Lamar University (Beaumont, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Weiss, conductor) - 17 April 2005 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works