Sonoran Desert Holiday

From Wind Repertory Project
Ron Nelson

Ron Nelson

General Info

Year: 1995
Duration: c. 9:10
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: LudwigMasters Publications, through Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Piano Synthesizer
Percussion, including:

  • Bell Tree
  • Bongos
  • Cabasa
  • Claves
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (or Tam-Tam)
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Tenor Drum
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Concluding the series of exciting overtures begun in 1953 with his extremely successful Savannah River Holiday, this entry also evokes pleasant images and allusions, this time of night, sunrises, Native Americans, Hispanic influences, and wide open southwestern spaces. Ron Nelson is a master of the writing craft and provides a solid technical workout and a musically rewarding conclusion for performers and audiences alike.

- Program Note from publisher

Ron Nelson's distinctive style, often inspired by America's rich landscape of natural wonders, is especially woven into several overtures that have since become staples in the concert band repertoire, including Rocky Point Holiday, Savannah River Holiday, and Aspen Jubilee. Sonoran Desert Holiday overture was the last chapter of this overture cycle, composed in 1994 on the heels of his substantial success with Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H). Nelson has lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, for many years and Sonoran Desert Holiday overture is inspired by his experiences in the American Southwest. Many of his overtures were written for orchestra and later transcribed for winds by the composer, but Sonoran Desert Holiday overture was originally conceived for band, composed for the Air Force Band of Flight in Ohio.

The composer describes the work in the preface to the score:

Sonoran Desert Holiday is a quasi-programmatic piece, the final in a series of eight overtures which began in 1953 with Savannah River Holiday. Although no specific program is intended, there are gestures and allusions to night, to sunrise, to Native American and Hispanic influences, to wide open Southwestern expanses, and to the remarkable variety of holiday experiences available in this diverse and beautiful part of our country. The form of the overture is ABA with an atmospheric introduction and a short coda.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 14 December 2016


State Ratings

  • Georgia: VI
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • North Carolina:
    • VI: play any three movements
    • Masterworks: play all
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Atlanta (Ga.) Wind Symphony (David Kehler, conductor) - 19 March 2023
  • Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Kaitlin Bove, conductor) - 17 November 2022
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mason St. Pierre, conductor) - 1 December 2021
  • University of South Florida (Tampa) Symphonic Band (Lauren Gates, conductor) – 26 November 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Ryan Smith, conductor) – 23 September 2019
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (David T. Kehler, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • River Valley Wind Ensemble (Kankakee County, Ill.) (David Conrad, conductor) – 16 December 2018
  • Aliso Niguel High School (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (David G. Weinberg, conductor) – 21 March 2018
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Jennifer K. Bollero, conductor) – 1 March 2018
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Wind Symphony (Scott C. Tobias, conductor) – 9 February 2018
  • San Jose (Calif.) Wind Symphony (Edward C. Harris, conductor) – 7 May 2017
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 14 December 2016 (2016 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Glenn Price, conductor) – 18 September 2016
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirt Saville, conductor) - 11 February 2016
  • University of Texas Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 26 October 2014
  • Whitworth University (Spokane, Wa.) Wind Symphony (Richard Strauch, conductor) - August 2014
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (David Thomas Kehler, conductor) – 24 March 2012 (CBDNA 2012 Southern Division Conference, Kennesaw, Ga.)

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Nelson, R. (1995). Sonoran Desert Holiday: For Symphonic Band [score]. Ludwig Music: Cleveland, Oh.
  • Ron Nelson website