Möbius Trip

From Wind Repertory Project
James Stephenson

James Stephenson

Subtitle: Variations on Obligato and Theme. Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

General Info

Year: 2017
Duration: c. 19:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Stephenson Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $300.00; (digital) - $300.00   |   Score Only (print) - $60.00; (digital) - $60.00


Solo Alto Saxophone

Ensemble 1 (Bright):

C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Trumpet
Horn in F I-II
Percussion, including:

  • Bell Tree
  • Bongos
  • Cowbell
  • Crotales
  • Flexatone
  • Glockenspiel
  • Sandpaper Blocks
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-Tom (3)
  • Triangle
  • Wind Chimes
  • Wood Block, high, medium, low
  • Xylophone

Ensemble 2 (Mellow):

Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cajon
  • Claves
  • LowTom
  • Marimba
  • Sandpaper Blocks
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Timbales
  • Triangle
  • Vibra-slap

Ensemble 3 (Jazz):

E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Trombone I-II
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • China Cymbals
  • Guiro
  • Snare Drum
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Vibraphone
  • Wax Paper (on Snare Drum)
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Möbius Trip -- a concerto for alto saxophone and wind ensemble -- is the result of experimenting with the variations of both a theme and its obligato simultaneously. In this case, the obligato is presented first, in free form from the offstage solo saxophone, and receives various permutations as the first six variations are presented. The theme makes its way with increasing visibility, until finally it is presented most directly in the middle of the piece (correspondingly, with the middle ensemble). In the subsequent six variations, the theme gets its metamorphoses, but then the obligato starts to make its way back into the picture. It is this constant awareness of two sides (obligato and theme) of a (Möbius) strip that give this piece its title. Furthermore, the piece is a journey, or "Trip", as we travel from F minor to a final F Major, yet almost ending up just where we began.

In a further exploration -- this time of sounds and ensemble placement -- the piece also uses three different ensembles to accompany the soloist. These consist of (from left to right) "bright", "mellow", and "jazz". These sound-worlds were used to inspire different collaborative writing between soloist and each ensemble. Furthermore, the tessituras were also exploited, resulting in some sections with soloist and high instruments, or, of course, the other extreme.

More than anything, Möbius Trip is a vehicle by which to allow the alto saxophone to display both lyrical and technical capabilities, and hopefully in a setting that is rewarding and enjoyable for all involved.

- Program Note by composer

For Russell Kerns. Premiered by the Saratoga (Calif.) High School Wind Ensemble, Michael Boitz and Jason Shiuan, conductors, to commemorate the opening of the newly built Saratoga High School Music Building, Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble (Christopher J. Woodruff, conductor; Laura M. Cramer, saxophone) – 9 June 2019
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Knighten, conductor; Eric Troiano, alto saxophone) – 15 March 2019
  • La Sierra University (Riverside, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Giovanni Santos, conductor; Andrew S. Harrison, alto saxophone) – 10 November 2018
  • Philadelphia (Penn.) Wind Symphony (Paul Bryan, conductor) – 12 May 2018
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy J. Robblee, conductor; Timothy Roberts, alto saxophone) – 17 February 2018
  • Saratoga (Calif.) High School Wind Ensemble (Jason Shiuan, conductor; Russell Kerns, alto saxophone) - 21 November 2017 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • James Stephenson Music Accessed 22 June 2021
  • Perusal score
  • Stephenson, J.; Kern, R. (2017). Möbius Trip : Variations on Obligato and Theme : Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble [score]. Stephenson Music: [Lake Forest, Ill.].