Hemke Concerto

From Wind Repertory Project
Augusta Read Thomas

Augusta Read Thomas (trans. Chris Buchanan)

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Subtitle: Prisms of Light

General Info

Year: 2014 / 2018
Duration: c. 22:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Illuminations
2. Sunrise Ballad
3. Chasing Radiance
4. Solar Rings


Full Score
Solo Alto Saxophone
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet I-II
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The dramatic Hemke Concerto, "Prisms of Light" (2014) was commissioned as a retirement gift for legendary saxophonist and pedagogue Frederick L. Hemke by many of his students past and present. (Hemke was Thomas's colleague during her years on the faculty of Northwestern University.)

Hemke Concerto represents a new high point for Thomas's pursuit of the luminous — the music truly explodes with sun-infused vigor. The four sections bear typical Thomas titles: Illuminations, Sunrise Ballad, Chasing Radiance, and Solar Rings. The work overall possesses a fast — slow — fast shape, with the duration of the first, second, and third/fourth (combined) sections forming equal thirds of about seven minutes each. The opening Illuminations begins with a blaze. The orchestra and saxophone interact spiritedly, with the orchestra often merging the saxophone into its glittering texture. The second section begins slowly and lyrically, and gradually builds in intensity to a sonorous climax. The short third section is a scherzo-like caprice and leads into the final Solar Rings — music that raises the energy and luminosity of the opening to a new height, before ending in one of Thomas's most ecstatic blazes. This concerto is music that almost requires the listener to wear sunglasses — exploring fully the saxophone's capacity for both lyrical, human expression and glorious, otherworldly color.

Program Note by Carson Cooman


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of South Carolina (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Corman Cannon, conductor; Clifford Leaman, alto saxophone) 19 September 2021
  • United States Navy Band (Washington, D.C.) (Kenneth Collins, conductor; Taimur Sullivan, alto saxophone) - 11 January 2019 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Augusta Read Thomas website Accessed 12 January 2019
  • Thomas, A.; Hemke, F. (2014). Hemke Concerto : "Prisms of Light" : For Solo Alto Saxophone and Orchestra [score]. G. Schirmer: New York.