American Embers

From Wind Repertory Project
James Stephenson

James Stephenson

General Info

Year: 2017
Duration: c. 6:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Stephenson Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $100.00; (digital) - $100.00   |   Score Only (print) - $25.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion (6 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Block of wood (played with quarters)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotales
  • Marimba
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Sandpaper Blocks
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam (small)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone

Offstage ensemble (preferred):

  • Piccolo
  • Oboe I-II (optional)
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
  • Bassoon
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
  • Triangle
  • Piano, upright


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

American Embers was commissioned by the CBDNA Western/Northwestern Divisions as part of its Bridgeworks consortium, which endeavors to provide new works by esteemed composers that can be performed by high school, community college and collegiate ensembles. Composer James Stephenson has given us a beautiful treasure that was composed in response to the devastating wildfires that ravaged Santa Rosa, California, in October 2017. In his program notes, Stephenson writes:

I could only imagine what it must have been like to walk among the ruins, thinking not necessarily of the material things, but of all the memories that literally went up in smoke or were reduced to ashes. This got me to thinking of my own childhood, when I, my mother and my siblings would sit in the living room while father would play his favorite show tunes on the piano. Many times -- because I was too young -- he would invite me over to play a one-note melody, while he supplied the accompaniment. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to think of this house -- so full of memories -- reduced to nothing but a chimney tower.

Given my now “mid-life” age, I try hard not to get overly sentimental about that time that coincided my childhood, when America seemed simpler, when communities and families seemed so much more attached to one another. I know this probably happens every generation; it just so happens that now it’s my turn.

And so American Embers is a distinctly American tune, that grows and becomes intimate, that gets lush and romantic, or just remains simple, much like memories often do. The offstage music that interrupts the tune near the end are direct quotes from what I recall of my father’s playing.

Throughout the work the percussion imitates an old-fashioned, scratchy record player. It accompanies most of the piece, but at the end suffers the ever-present reality of the skipping record. This is not just an effect; it is a reminder that the mistakes and difficulties of every generation seem endlessly destined to repeat themselves and make us all just long that much more for the innocent childhood we once enjoyed.

- Program Note from Sonoma State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 21 March 2018


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Pomona (Calif.) College Band (Graydon Beeks, conductor) - 2 May 2020 (scheduled but not performed)
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 27 September 2019
  • California State University, Los Angeles Wind Ensemble (Emily Moss, conductor) – 8 May 2019
  • Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, Calif.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (James Stephenson, conductor) – 21 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Western/Northwestern Conference, Rohnert Park, Calif.) *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works