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Solo Trombone Repertoire by Trombonist
Innovator and Pioneer: Stuart Dempster
William Benjamin McIlwain

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A Treatise submitted to the

College of Music
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Music

Degree Awarded:
Fall Semester, 2010
The members of the committee approve the treatise of William Benjamin McIlwain
defended on October 14, 2010.

John Drew
Professor Directing Treatise

Richard Clary
University Representative

Deborah Bish
Committee Member

The Graduate School has verified and approved the above-named committee members.

I dedicate this to my loving wife, Jackie, for her support, guidance and
encouragement throughout our lives together.


I would like to acknowledge Stuart Dempsters unwavering support and

willingness to see this project through since its inception. In addition to his candor in the
interview process, Mr. Dempster put me in contact with colleagues and former students
who have helped in my research. Also, he took an active role in the editing process of the
transcripts and treatise, all of his own accord. It has been a true honor and privilege to
learn from him during this process.
Thank you to all of Mr. Dempsters students and colleagues that provided insight
during the research process. These generous people include James Lebens, Pauline
Oliveros, Scott Mousseau, Monique Buzzart, Dan Wolch, Gretchen McNamara,
Nathaniel Oxford and Jonathan Pasternack.
Also, I would like to thank Dr. Deborah Bish and Professor Richard Clary for
their time and commitment to help make this process as painless as possible. I feel
particularly fortunate to have a major professor like Dr. John Drew, whose attention to
detail and never-ending support proved pivotal during the course of this journey.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed with a family that believed in me and
encouraged me, regardless of my seemingly lofty goals and aspirations. These family
members include Don and Debbie McIlwain, Brad McIlwain, George and Lori OKain,
John OKain, and Joanne OKain. Last but not in any way least, I would like to thank my
wife for her wisdom, love and support. I will always appreciate how you beat me to the
finish line, Dr. Jackie McIlwain.


Abstract ................................................................................................ vii

INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................... 1

1. STUART DEMPSTER .......................................................................... 3

1.1 As Performer .................................................................................. 5
1.2 As Teacher ..................................................................................... 12
1.3 As Commissioner ........................................................................... 15
1.4 As Composer .................................................................................. 16
1.5 As Healer ....................................................................................... 19

2. SELECT COMMISSIONS .................................................................... 22

2.1 Berio Sequenza V (1966) .............................................................. 23
2.2 Imbrie Three Sketches (1967) ........................................................ 30
2.3 Krenek Five Pieces (1967) ............................................................ 33
2.4 Erickson General Speech (1969) ................................................... 35
2.5 Suderburg Chamber Music III: Night Set (1972) .......................... 43
2.6 Erb Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (1976) ....................... 47

CONCLUSION ........................................................................................... 50

APPENDICES ............................................................................................ 52




D STATEMENT BY SCOTT MOUSSEAU............................................ 103

E STATEMENT BY MONIQUE BUZZART ...................................... 106

F STATEMENT BY DAN WOLCH ....................................................... 109

G STATEMENT BY GRETCHEN MCNAMARA ................................. 115

H STATEMENT BY NATHANIEL OXFORD ....................................... 119

I STATEMENT BY JONATHAN PASTERNACK ............................... 121

J LIST OF COMMISSIONS AND DEDICATIONS .............................. 124


BIBLIOGRAPHY ...................................................................................... 130

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...................................................................... 134


Trombonist innovator and pioneer, Stuart Dempsters diverse career has included
roles as performer, teacher, commissioner, composer and healer. Through extensive
interviews with Dempster, his colleagues and former students, this document will provide
biographical information and background on his career over the past five decades
including his experiences with the San Francisco Tape Music Center, didjeridu, Deep
Listening Band and his teachings at the University of Washington.
Additionally, six of Dempsters commissions will be discussed providing
background information on the composer, collaborative process and an examination of
any salient features of the work. The six commissions that will be discussed include
Luciano Berios Sequenza V (1966), Andrew Imbries Three Sketches (1967), Ernst
Kreneks Five Pieces (1967), Robert Ericksons General Speech (1969), Robert
Suderburgs Chamber Music III: Night Set (1972) and Donald Erbs Concerto for
Trombone and Orchestra (1976).


Many of the advances in the various fields of science and technology would have
proven difficult to achieve without the emergence of pioneers and innovators. According
to Paul DiMaggio in Social Implications of the Internet, more than fifty-five million
Americans went online during an average day a decade ago. 1 In 2000, the World Wide
Web included over two billion Web pages and nearly two million pages added daily.2
Without World Wide Web inventor and pioneer, Tim Berners-Lee, this undeniable
technological advancement could have taken much longer to materialize.
Similarly, the phenomenon of innovations attributed to specific people can also be
found in the field of music. For instrumentalists, pioneers have facilitated the increase in
popularity of their particular instrument through performance, commissions,
compositions, and manufacture. Violinists have Antonio Stradivari and Niccol
Paganini, while pianists have Henry E. Steinway and Franz Liszt. While the trombone
might not have yet reached the same heights in popularity as the violin or piano, the
instruments prominence has greatly increased in the last one hundred years due to
significant figures who have championed it. Recently, many young trombonists ears
have been saturated with recordings of the current giants in the trombone world, such as
Joseph Alessi and Christian Lindberg, while remaining unfamiliar with the strides that
Stuart Dempster pioneered for the trombone and its repertoire, laying the groundwork for
respect the trombone is garnering as a virtuosic solo instrument.
Dempsters major contributions to the advancement of the trombone include his
performances, teachings and commissions for new works for the instrument. In an article
marking his seventieth birthday and the fortieth anniversary of Luciano Berios Sequenza
V, Chris Stover writes, until Christian Lindberg came along no one has done more to
expand the repertoire of the trombone than Stuart Dempster.3 Composer and friend

Paul DiMaggio, Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman and John P. Robinson, Social
Implications of the Internet, Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 308.

Robert Erickson recollects that after Dempsters first solo recital of new music at the San
Francisco Tape Music Center in 1966 the audience, musicians, and critics were
impressed, and that night Stu launched his campaign to place the trombone in the main
stream of contemporary music.4 Suffice it to say, Dempsters role in the rise in
popularity of the trombone among both composers and aspiring trombonists has been
pivotal and indisputable.

Chris Stover, Stuart Dempster: Sedimental Journey, International Trombone Journal 34, no. 2
(Spring 2006): 60.
Robert Erickson and John MacKay, Music of Many Means: Sketches and Essays on the Music of
Robert Erickson (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1995), 72.



With nearly two dozen commissions for the trombone and twenty dedications by
other composers, Stuart Dempsters growth as a musician has been influenced by his
relationships with not only other musicians and composers, but also the audience that has
been captivated by his eccentric performances and artistic vision over the last fifty years.
Born in 1936 in Berkeley, California, Dempster began his musical studies on the piano,
studying with Hilda Weagant, a piano teacher who lived in his childhood neighborhood.5
In an interview with Abbie Conant, Dempster explains that the trombone kind of found
[him].6 Luckily for trombonists, his first choice of instrument in the fifth grade, the
trumpet, was not available, so he was given a baritone.7 After being told he would be
unable to take lessons on the baritone, Dempster switched to trombone in the tenth grade
and began to study with A.B. Chic Moore.8 According to Dempster, Moore was a local
freelance trombonist in the San Francisco Bay Area.9
Throughout his childhood and adolescent years, some of Dempsters most notable
influences were his parents 78 rpm record collection of operas and symphonies,
Standard Hour broadcasts on AM radio and a variety of jazz recordings. In addition to
San Francisco Bay Area jazz trombonists Kid Ory (whom he met while still in high
school) and Turk Murphy, Dempster also lists the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie,

Thomas Welsh, Stuart Dempster: An Interview, In The San Francisco Tape Music Center:
1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, ed. by David W. Bernstein (Berkeley and Los Angeles,
California: University of California Press, 2008), 252.
Abbie Conant, Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life In Music: Reflections on His Fifty-Year
Career as a Trombonist, in conversation with Abbie Conant, Abbie Conant and William Osborne, (accessed May 19, 2010).

Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Frank Rosolino, and Spike Jones as specific groups that he
remembers listening to growing up. 10 Other childhood favorites include the music of
Gilbert and Sullivan.11 As a college student, Dempsters listening expanded to include
everything [he] could get a hold of, such as world music, new music, and the comedic
music of Anna Russell, Victor Borge, Hoffnung festivals, and eventually PDQ Bach. 12
Contrary to many aspiring trombonists, Dempster maintains that he was and still is more
interested in music rather than [any particular] trombonist.13
One of the relationships that continued from his college years at San Francisco
State (1954-1958) to his current work in the Deep Listening Band is his friendship and
collaborations with the composer, Pauline Oliveros. Dempsters account of his initial
introduction to Oliveros took place during his freshman year of college, she was playing
French horn, I was playing trombone, literally meeting with our bells facing each
other.14 When asked about her memories of their first meeting, Oliveros recalled how
Dempster was full of really good humorvery, very energetic and very excitablewas
all over you, so to speak.15 Other composers who were classmates of Dempster and
Oliveros at San Francisco State College include Terry Riley and Loren Rush.
While in school Dempster became interested in composition, in particular, the
Composers Workshop that was run at San Francisco State by Dr. Wendell Otey.16
Dempster recollects that a significant influence upon [his] budding interest in new
music was the Composers Workshop, which provided him with an opportunity to
perform new works written by some of the various composers in attendance.17 In
addition to performing some of these new works, Dempster also was introduced to the
Stuart Dempster, interview by author via e-mail, January 14, 2010 April 28, 2010.
Welsh, 253.
Pauline Oliveros, Interview by author via phone, April 17, 2010.
Welsh, 253.
Dempster, Interview by author.

music of Berg, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Webern at listening sessions at the house of
another composer, Joseph F. Weber, during this time.18 During his undergraduate years
at San Francisco State, Dempster was consistently exposed to new music and new ideas
about music from his fellow students and through his own revelations.
Before returning to complete a masters degree in composition at San Francisco
State, Dempster volunteered for the draft in the summer of 1958.19 He was placed in the
Seventh Army Symphony, which toured Germany, France and Italy. 20 As many of his
fellow musicians began to hate music, Dempster saw himself slipping into [hating
music] a little bit and rescued [himself] from that by returning to San Francisco after a
two-year tour in the U.S. Army.21
Upon his arrival back in California, Dempster began what would become an
illustrious and multi-faceted career. Within a year of returning to San Francisco,
Dempster successfully won a position in the Oakland Symphony and began teaching at
the San Francisco Conservatory. 22 Around this time, Dempster also became heavily
involved in performing and commissioning new works for the trombone. From the
sixties to present-day, his influential roles have crossed multiple avenues of music
including as a performer, teacher, commissioner, composer, and healer.

1.1 As Performer

From 1962 to 1966, Dempster served as principal trombonist of the Oakland

Symphony under the direction of Gerhard Samuel. During this time, he began to attend
faithfully some of the new music concerts that were beginning in San Francisco, such as
the Sonics series presented by his composer-friends, Ramon Sender and Pauline

Welsh, 253.
Conant, Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life In Music.
Welsh, 253.

Oliveros.23 According to Thomas Welsh, these concerts typically included tape pieces
and group improvisation.24 One major undertaking was called City Scale. This piece
used the entire city of San Francisco as the stage for a series of events, both planned and
unplannedthe objective of City Scale: to blur the boundaries between art and life.25
Either Ramon Sender or Morton Subotnick approached Dempster asking for his
participation by playing trombone in the Broadway Tunnel, which was along the route
the audience would take during the performance of the piece.26 Dempster recalls,
Well, I think I just did stuff and played with the echo and amused myself as I pretty
much wished to as the audience visited the Broadway Tunnel on their way to other
sites, like Russian Hill.27
Out of the Sonic series emerged the San Francisco Tape Music Center. Even
though tape music was a primary focus of the group, it was supplemented with free
improvisation and interdisciplinary experiments.28 According to David Bernstein, this
genre could be traced back to early twentieth-century Dadaist and futurist performance
art and more recently in works by John Cage.29 Pauline Oliveros recalls:
That was a great time, where we all had a really good time. It was really about
creating a new art form, which was multimedia; you know electronic music and
projected imagery. We were gathered around together in a musical endeavor to
work with electronic music, because at that time there were no places you could
work on thatso we had to create that space and that is what we did with my
colleagues: Ramon Sender, Morton Subotnick, and myself, Anthony Martin, Bill
MaginnisWe had a way of diffusing our music. We gathered a subscription
audience, put on concerts twice a month, and in a couple of years it built quite a
followingand also got critical reviews from the newspapers, which was very

Ibid, 253-254.
Ibid, 254.
David W. Bernstein, The San Francisco Tape Music Center: Emerging Art Forms and the
American Counterculture, 1961-1966, In The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture
and the Avant-Garde, ed. by David W. Bernstein (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of
California Press, 2008), 17.
Welsh, 254.
Bernstein, 14.

important at the time. So, it was basically a lot of interaction amongst people who
were interested in developing the medium. Also, we had visitors from different
countries that came to the Tape Music Center, because they didnt have access
themselves. So, it was a very rich environmenta lot of fun.30

Stuart Dempster made his first major appearance at the San Francisco Tape Music
Center performing Pauline Oliveross Pieces of Eight in 1964.31 The piece used eight
alarm clocks with performers on clarinet, trombone, trumpet and various packing crates,
lighting effects, a bust of Beethoven, collection plates and a cast-iron cash register.32
When asked about the theatricality of the performance, Dempster remembers it as a
defining momentone that really took me somewhere and I never recovered.33
Another memorable performance of Dempsters was John Cages Concert for Piano and
Orchestra, which Dempster had various instruments in my quiver for that, including the
garden hose.34 Dempster played at the first performance of Terry Rileys In C at the
Tape Center.35 About In C, Dempster reminisces that as he played he was drawn into
this space somehow, this mental space as you played itit was like watching a
kaleidoscope turn really, really slowly 36 In 1965, Folke Rabe, trombonist and
composer, and Dempster participated in an improvised performance for Anna Halprins
Dance Company.37 Dempster recalls, I was amazed at what I saw and, frankly, was
amazed at our music-making together.38
Stuart Dempsters first full solo recital of avant-garde works for the trombone
took place at the San Francisco Tape Music Center on March 21 and 22, 1966. The

Oliveros, Interview by author.
Welsh, 255.
Ibid, 256.
Ibid, 257.
Ibid, 258.
Dempster, Interview by author.

program included world premieres of Luciano Berios Sequenza V, Robert Ericksons
Ricercar a 5 and Pauline Oliveross Theater Piece for Trombone Player and Tape.39 The
other remaining pieces on the program were Larry Austins Changes, John Cages Solo
for Sliding Trombone and Barney Childss Solo Sonata.40 Dempster remembers:
It was rather an all out effort. The commission pieces took a lot of work to get
in shape, or to get them at all, and the other three I had never performed before
either. There was a lot of grunt work in practicing and, at the performances
themselves, there was a tremendous amount of staging issues to take care of as
well as making prop lists and organizing personnel. I needed stage hands, I was
doing all the publicity myself, and the printing of programs and a brochure was
mine to do, too. It was not like now; at the time one had to have a lot of lead time
to get anything printed. Then there was the mailing to everyone I could think of.
The all outness of the concerts themselves became apparent to anyone who
attended simply through the sheer amount of theater, staging and lighting even if
they may have been unaware of all the other preparations mentioned above. The
concert attracted the critics, but then almost anything going on the San Francisco
Tape Music Center (SFTMC) attracted some kind of attention. I may have
generated a largish audience simply because I was attracting composers,
performers, theater and dance people, and even visual artists.41

With pieces that were demanding in a variety of regards from endurance, technique, and
pacing to theatrical elements like acting and movement, Robert Erickson writes that
audience, musicians, and critics were impressed, and that night Stu successfully
launched his campaign to place the trombone in the main stream of contemporary
When approaching the music of the avant-garde, specifically extended techniques
on the trombone, Dempster has always been on the forefront of discovery. He explains
that there is a pleasure of learning these sounds and techniques simply for their own
sake and appreciating the diversity and differences as they begin to define idioms of the
trombone.43 One of his main inspirations for learning many of these techniques was the

Welsh, 261.
Erickson, 72.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Erickson, 72.
Dempster, Interview by author.

San Francisco Tape Music Center.44 During the early 1960s, many of the electronic
sounds did not sound very good, according to Dempster.45 He explains, I was arrogant
enough to think that I could do these things better [on the trombone], and sometimes I got
away with it.46 Additionally, Dempster maintains that he liked to goof around in
rehearsals and make funny noises imitating sounds [he] heard on Spike Jones recordings
and, later on, Hoffnung Festival recordings.47
Early on in his performance career, Stuart Dempster began to avail himself of
non-traditional instruments as additional tools in his performance art, such as garden
hoses and conch shells. An example of this can be found in Pauline Oliveross Theater
Piece for Trombone Player and Tape written for him. Not written for the typical slide
trombone, this piece utilizes garden hose instruments.48 In his book, The Modern
Trombone, Dempster argues that a garden hose fitted with a trombone mouthpiece is
really a trombone of nonadjustable length, just as the trombone may be considered an
adjustable-length garden hose.49 Theater Piece uses garden hoses that are incorporated
into sculptures by the choreographer Elizabeth Harris.50 With one sculpture, the candle
trumpet, funnel bells with candles are placed at the end of the garden hoses, which allow
the performers breath to dictate the amount and type of light that results.51 A second
sculpture, the sprinkler horn, has lawn sprinklers attached to the ends of the garden
hoses that rotate, spewing forth baby powder, smoke, or whatever else might have been
loaded in them.52 Apparently, the tape portion of Theater Piece used previously-

Welsh, 262.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Stuart Dempster, The Modern Trombone: A Definition of its Idioms (Berkeley and Los Angeles,
California: University of California Press, 1979), 73.
Ibid, 74.

recorded sounds of Dempster, which Oliveros explains, We got together and he made a
lot of sounds for me. I recorded his sounds and put together the piece. So it was as
simple as that.53
One of the most influential instruments in Stuart Dempsters music is the
Australian aboriginal didjeridu. Dempster goes as far to say that the didjeridu was a
constant source of inspiration with many of the techniques used on the didjeridu, such
as vowel shaping and multiphonics, having direct application to the trombone. 54 After
the completion of his Ricercar 5, Robert Erickson introduced Dempster to the
didjeridu.55 Following six years of his own experimentation with the instrument,
Dempster received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the didjeridu with aboriginal
Australian performers.56 With timbre being the default in Australian aboriginal music
and pitch becoming secondary, the music of the didjeridu and the study of the instrument
supplemented many of his experimentations with sounds on the trombone.57 About
studying the didjeridu, Dempster states, the time has comeaboriginals hold answers to
questions that trombonists and other brass players are just beginning to learn how to
The essence of theater is an additional characteristic that is evident in much of the
performance art of Stuart Dempster. In his book, The Modern Trombone, he maintains
that few other instruments can approach the theatrical implications of the trombone. 59
These implications are found in the slide, which provides a visual, as well as audible
relationship through its movement in and out.60 According to Dempster, these
implications can be traced back to New Orleans jazz, minstrel shows, and vaudeville,
Oliveros, Interview by author.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 94.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 95.
Ibid, 73.

with real theatrical consciousness for trombone players emerging through vaudeville
and the Spike Jones era.61 While preparing Pauline Oliveross Theater Piece for
Trombone Player and Tape, Dempster worked with Elizabeth Harris to develop
choreography for the piece.62 As a result of this collaboration, Dempster states that he
began to consider all kinds of aspects of performance in light of that experience. 63
These theatrics have resulted in countless memorable performances for Stuart Dempster
ranging from the cabaret setting with white dinner jackets and lighting for Robert
Suderburgs Chamber Music III: Night Set to the out of hand theatrical considerations
in Robert Ericksons General Speech, which gets a huge reaction every time.64 Robert
Erickson goes on to say that it is hard to believe that a performer who looks meek as a
bank clerk could be doing such outlandish things on stage and producing such outlandish
sounds.65 The most memorable performance of his most well-known commission,
Luciano Berios Sequenza V, took place at the BBC when Berio organized as many
original Sequenze performers as he could.66 Trombonist James Lebens explains that
just to see [Dempster] perform you know the innocence and the energyjust the
child-like humor and total lack of pretension. One of the things I most despise in life is
pretension. He is totally devoid of it. His music is total honesty.67 Likewise, music
critic R.M. Campbell also points out that Dempster can be relied upon to be more than
musically competent and is often very funny. 68

Ibid, 75.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Erickson, 76.
Dempster, Interview by author.
James Lebens, Interview by author via phone, March 21, 2010.
R.M. Campbell, Dempsters Wit, Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 13, 1975.

1.2 As Teacher

Stuart Dempsters performing career was supported by decades of service to

higher academia. While a member of the Oakland Symphony, Dempster served on the
faculties of California State College at Hayward and the San Francisco Conservatory. 69
After a spending one year as a Creative Associate at the State University of New York at
Buffalo under Lukas Foss, Dempster was appointed assistant professor at the University
of Washington in 1968 and awarded full professorship in 1985.70
According to many of his students, humor was an ever-present tool in his
teachings. Trombone professor at the Universit Laval in Canada James Lebens explains,
[Dempster] taught me that you can have humor in a lot of things. You can have it as a
teaching tool [and] use it in concerts to put the audience at ease and bring them in.71
Another student of Dempsters, Monique Buzzart recalls that from her first meeting with
him, his gentleness and humor [were] quite evident.72 Dan Wolchs memories of
lessons with Stuart Dempster were that we were always laughing. Stu always tried to
make things fun, he had many witty and whimsical remarks. His personal character is
very warm and nurturing with a dash of humor thrown in.73
Even though as a performer Dempster was well known for his extended
techniques on the trombone, many of his students maintain that the study and
reinforcement of fundamental techniques were at the heart of his teaching. These
fundamental techniques included aspects of breathing, articulation, sound production, and
slide technique. Both James Lebens and Gretchen McNamara remember Dempster
always trying to address any little noise in the system, or garbage in the sound,
because if you practiced with that noise and failed to get rid of it; it would never go

Edward H Tarr, Dempster, Stuart, In Grove Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline. subscriber/article/grove/music/07545 (accessed May 28, 2010).
Lebens, Interview by author.
Monique Buzzart, E-mail message to author, March 15, 2010.
Dan Wolch, E-mail message to author, March 4, 2010.

away. 74 As far as breathing and initiating sound on the instrument, Lebens describes
Dempsters metaphor of the trombone being a double-bowed instrument:
As far as his teachingone of his big things was use your air as a bow.
[Dempster] said, The trombone is actually a double-bowed instrument. The
slide is one of the bows, so that has to be moved gracefully and the air is the other
bow. That was one of the other things that got me over the Valsava as well. I just
would tell myself that my air is not working like a bow. Its getting stuck75

Discussing slide technique further, Dan Wolch points out that Dempster always believed
that with arm flexibility, the player can actually play complex passages more smoothly
and musically-even though it might feel and even look as though the arm is moving
slower, its actually moving just as quickly, but more efficiently. 76 One of Dempsters
own memories pertained to his emphasis on blowing from the gut. Dempster recalls his
use of the Dempsters Get-A-Bigger-Hammer Hammer, which he would hold to any
students [who] were lazy in their gutit got their attention quicker and more
appropriately than anything I have ever heard of, let alone used.77
Like any successful teacher, Stuart Dempster had many thoughts on successful
practice techniques. One of the great frustrations of any aspiring instrumentalist is
successfully tackling that seemingly impossible passage. Dempster constantly reiterated
with his students that when you can play the passage correctly once, you need to continue
to reinforce the passage until it is played correctly more times than not; therefore
increasing your percentage.78 The concept of backwards practice was also a tool that
Dempster utilized. Backwards practice requires the musician to add notes one at a time
preceding a small difficult passage after successful renditions, hence building confidence
leading up to the passage, as well as confidence in the passage itself.79 Another practice
technique that Dempster impressed upon his students was to make a list of up to five

Lebens, Interview by author.
Wolch, E-mail message to author.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Gretchen McNamara, E-mail message to author, March 18, 2010.
Dempster, Interview by author.

things to concentrate on during that particular practice session, such as breathing, posture
or slide technique.80 The student then would reevaluate the list periodically throughout
their practice session.81 According to Gretchen McNamara, knowing how to practice
well and knowing how and what specifically to listen for is so important. 82
The mental side of playing a musical instrument was never ignored in Dempsters
teaching. His simple motto was put the play back into playing music. 83 Typically, this
motto was used to address those students who tended to over-analyze many aspects of
their playing. Jonathan Pasternack explains that Dempster
urged me always to play with abandon, partially in an attempt to free me of my
overly cerebral approach to trombone playing, an approach which had led me to
an intellectual over-determination of my playing and, thus, my articulation
dysfunction. After weeks of working on this, Stuart triggered what led to our
breakthrough, when he looked at me intensely and said, I hope you realize we
are in this together. 84

Contrary to this idea of playing with abandon, an apathetic mind is not ideal either. For
those students who tended to lose focus while playing, Dempster would say, You are
playing as though you wish you were doing something else, like sailing. 85 After being
told this during the course of a lesson, Dan Wolch recalls that his sound became more
resonant and his playing was better in tune as he began to listen more intently to
himself.86 Like any successful teacher, Dempster used a variety of motivational
techniques. He recalled one technique in particular:
When I detect a student being a bit lazy or in a rut I often would say, Shall we
generate a crisis? I would then send them to the recital coordinator and have
them set a date a reasonable length of time out depending upon how close they

McNamara, E-mail message to author.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Jonathan Pasternack, E-mail message to author, March 14, 2010.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Wolch, E-mail message to author.

might be or could be. Even for the less experienced students, a half recital date a
few weeks or months ahead can generate quite a stir up of practice habits.87

As a teacher, Stuart Dempster has impacted the lives of many aspiring

trombonists. According to Pasternack, Dempsters unique combination of total
commitment, creative analysis, perseverance and out-of-the-box experimentation--not to
mention [his] contagious optimism helps many of his students succeed in a variety of
areas, both inside and outside the music field.88

1.3 As Commissioner

Unlike the solo repertoire of many of other instruments, trombone solo repertoire
does not include landmark works by giants in composition such as Mozart, Beethoven, or
Strauss. However, beginning in the twentieth century, composers began to investigate
further the capabilities of the instrument. Among the greatest contributions of Stuart
Dempster to current and future trombonists is the multitude of compositions he pioneered
for the instrument. This includes nearly forty compositions that were either
commissioned by or dedicated to Dempster.89
Even though he has always regarded himself as a performer, Dempster sought out
the opportunity to collaborate with any willing composer. While he was performing at
the San Francisco Tape Music Center, Dempster sent a little tape of sonic fragments to
various composers.90 Dempster explains that he was frustrated over the dearth of quality
trombone literature and realized [that he] was in a unique position to do a little
something about it.91 Interestingly, this tape formed the basis for the recordings

Dempster, Interview by author.
Pasternack, E-mail message to author.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Welsh, 260.
Dempster, Interview by author.

associated with his book, The Modern Trombone.92 As far as the theatrical nature of
many of these works, Dempster recalls, When I commissioned composers, I really
wanted to give them a free handI had no idea I was going to have theater pieces. It was
the furthest thing from my mind.93
The importance of collaboration between composer and performer was essential
in the creation of many of these works. From his writings in The Modern Trombone,
Dempster maintains that the quality and significance of new compositions increases as
the performer and composer join efforts in its creation.94 One of Dempsters long-term
collaborators, Robert Erickson, writes, the essential thing is to work close to the
playerwith the sounds of a particular player in ones ears over a long period of time
ones attitude toward the instrument and its sounds becomes much more concrete. 95
Dempster mirrors this opinion, explaining that the quality of his commissions was not
accidental, but rather due to a deep commitment on the part of both composer and
performer and a willingness to work closely together.96 Among Dempsters most
popular commissions are Luciano Berios Sequenza V and Robert Ericksons General

1.4 As Composer

Stuart Dempster might be regarded as a successful composer, but not in the

traditional sense. Much of his compositional output is conceptual or spontaneous in
nature and written solely for him to perform.97 As can be seen in the score of his Ten
Grand Hosery in the appendix of his The Modern Trombone, Dempsters scores usually

Conant, Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life In Music.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 2.
Erickson, 73.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Dempster, Interview by author.

consist mainly of text that provides information about thought processes, instructions
for specific actions, or ideas to contemplate as point(s) of departure.98 In addition to
Ten Grand Hosery, Dempsters music also consists of group-led improvisations, such as
his album, Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel, and spontaneous composition
as heard in his participation with the Deep Listening Band. 99
While a Fellow in the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois-
Urbana from 1971 to 1972, Dempster composed Ten Grand Hosery. Dedicated to
Pauline Oliveros, this piece is large in scope with the use of a musician playing didjeridu
and ten garden hoses that are attached to the sound boards of ten grand pianos, a dancer,
sculptorchestra, supplementary dancers, and the audience.100 Organized into five
sections, the work begins with the musician entering playing the didjeridu as he gradually
walks from one piano to the next. At some point a solo dancer enters and dances around
the musician as the section concludes.101 During the second section, the musician sits on
the floor with the bouquet of mouthpieces that is connected to each of the ten hoses.
He then proceeds to send sound from one piano to the other through the hoses. The
dancer continues to move, becoming entangled in some of the hoses. In the third section,
Divertimento for Sculptorchestra, Dempster requests the use of various sculpted
instruments that have been made especially interesting to view, or else sculptures that
have the ability to make sound or that can be played. 102 After a brief fanfare played by
the musician, the audience is asked to join the musician by lying on the floor amongst the
grand pianos. The piece concludes with the audience joining in the dancing as the piece
evolves into a social get-together.103 Dempster credits Chungliang Al Huang, a Tai Ji

Demspter, The Modern Trombone, 90.
Ibid., 91.
Ibid, 92.

master, as a significant contributor to many of the movements, dancing and theatrical
aspects of the piece.104
A large amount of Stuart Dempsters music has emerged from led group
improvisations that take place in highly reverberant spaces. An example of this is his
album, Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel, which is recorded in an empty,
two-million gallon water tank near Port Townsend, Washington with a forty-five second
reverberation time.105 Dempster explains:
I was improvising and composing in real time, in the sense that improvisation is
real-time composition. I had no score for me - but I provided a score for the
other performers through my playing (and conducting). I had three basic
instructions: 1) when I pointed to any one of the performers they were to play
back what they heard me playing and keep that material going until I came around
again to give them something different; 2) if I raised my horn up high, that was to
designate a solo either for me, or if I pointed to someone else while raising the
horn, it would be for that other person, and 3) if I faced down, that would serve as
a cutoff either to a specific person or to several if I faced in succession more than
one of them.106

During the recording for this album, the nine musicians involved had to read [Dempster]
and his performance like a score, while playing a variety of instruments including
trombones, conch shells, didjeridus, and Tibetan cymbals. 107
A final example of Stuart Dempsters compositional output is his work with
Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band. Pauline Oliveros defines deep listening
as experiencing heightened awareness of sound, silence, and sounding. The key word is
experiencing it.108 Oliveros goes on to say that the concept of deep listening began
during the Bands first experience in the underground cistern; the same space that
Dempster would later record his Underground Overlays.109 With a forty-five second
reverberation time, mistakes are not easily forgotten resulting in a heightened awareness
Dempster, Interview by author.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Stover, 59.
Oliveros, Interview by author.

that leads to deep listening.110 According to Dempster, the only discussions prior to the
recording session pertained to what would be a useful didjeridu length that would work
with Pauline Oliveross just-tuned accordion.111 About their collaboration, Oliveros
Stuart is very reliable. We know what each other can do, and yet we keep doing
things that are different even though some of the sound vocabulary is very
familiar. That is a very interesting phenomenon. It is musical inventiveness that
pours out. Its very wonderful to be able to play together after so many years.
And each time the experience has a different flavor, because it is a different time.
Even though there is great familiarity, there is great inventiveness. 112

In 2005, Dempster and Oliveros celebrated fifty years of collaboration including their
work with the Deep Listening Band in a telematic performance titled Sedimental Journey
with Dempster in Seattle at the University of Washingtons DXARTS and Oliveros in
Troy, New York at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a virtual concert presented at
Mills College in San Francisco with live audiences at all three locations. 113

1.5 As Healer

A final perspective on the life and career of Stuart Dempster is his role as a
healer. The concept of music being used for healing purposes might be a recent
phenomenon in America, but it is a centuries-old practice in many cultures where
playing music assumes that there is a healing or restorative component. 114 For example,
the Australian aboriginal didjeridu has long been used in didjeridu resonance therapy, or
DRT. Michael Brosnan, an experienced practitioner of DRT, contends
that the therapeutic reasoning underlying DRT is that: every organ, bone and
tissue in the body has a resonating frequency at which it normally vibrates. When
Dempster, Interview by author.
Oliveros, Interview by author.
Stover, 54.
Dempster, Interview by author.

disease sets in, the vibrations in that part of the body become unbalanced. What
the resonance produced by the didjeridu can do is to envelop the whole body,
realigning and equalizing the flow of energies a massage at the atomic and
molecular level. The vertebrae of the spine are important because they are
exceptional sound resonators, capable of picking up sound vibrations and
transmitting them along nerve pathways to all organs and tissues. The goal of
DRT is to harmonize the body back to its natural resonating frequency.115

Dempster credits much of his interest in healing and music from his collaborations with
Pauline Oliveros, who states that music should make one feel good. 116 After recording
his album, Stuart Dempster In the Great Abbey of Clement VI, he realized he was able to
raise peoples life energy after he was approached by behavioral kinesiologist John
Diamond, M.D. about the healing properties of his music.117 Not only did Diamond
make Dempster aware of the natural, positive energy of his music, Diamond helped
enhance [Dempsters] ability to direct positive energy to another person or an
Beginning in 1986, Dempsters Sound Massage Parlor was born. This title
refers to a collection of performances and events that involved trombones, garden hoses,
didjeridus, singing, and audience interaction.119 Dempster describes that during one of
these Sound Massage Parlor events, he would perform and share one on one, or perhaps
three to seven at a timein the healing process.120 Going on, Stover adds that these
events aim to exchange negative energy with positive energy and realign the molecules
of the body with sound vibrations.121
Perhaps the greatest tool in these healing events is humor. In Stovers article,
Dempster points out that humor is healing toobetween the seriousness and the humor,
Karl Neuenfeldt, Good Vibrations? The Curious Cases of Didjeridu in Spectacle and
Therapy in Australia, The World of Music, 40, no. 2 (1998): 37.
Stuart Dempster, Statement on Sound Massage Parlor emailed to author, February 11, 2010.
Stover, 57.
Dempster, Statement on Sound Massage Parlor emailed to author.
Stover, 57.

if you cant tell which it is then I know Im in the right place.122 During the Sound
Massage Parlor events, the audience is encouraged to create sounds that are beautiful,
funny, meditative, silly, spiritualthe more collective it is the better the experience. 123
The presence of humor can also be seen in the titles to the compositions of the Sound
Massage Parlor: Acuhosery, Aura Fluff, Didjeriatsu and Sonic Facial.124
From his roles as a performer, teacher, commissioner, composer, and healer,
Dempster always seems to keep humor at the forefront, while also pushing the limits of
the norm. Summing up his career, Dempster states:
My work is at its best when it is equally appealing and appalling, appealing to
some and appalling to others; it is most noticeable with the theater pieces. These
are special fun and playful balances but they are not all that easy to do. Well, it is
relatively easy for me because that is what I do. I guess one could say that I live
for those balances.125

Stover, 57.
Dempster, Statement on Sound Massage Parlor emailed to author.
Dempster, Interview by author.



Much of the emerging interest in the modern trombone during a majority of the
twentieth century can be credited to Stuart Dempster, trombonist-innovator and pioneer.
In addition to his contributions in the areas of performance, composition, pedagogy, and
healing, Dempster is also credited with inspiring nearly forty compositions for solo
trombone that have encouraged an increase in new literature for the instrument. His most
well-known commission for the trombone has become a cornerstone in the repertoire for
the instrument, Luciano Berios Sequenza V. However, this is only one of many that
Dempster helped bring to life. Among some of his more popular commissions are
Andrew Imbries Three Sketches, Ernst Kreneks Five Pieces, Robert Ericksons General
Speech, Robert Suderburgs Chamber Music III: Night Set, and Donald Erbs Trombone
At first glance, attempting to play many of Stuart Dempsters commissions might
seem daunting, if not impossible, to someone unfamiliar with avant-garde music, but
many aspiring modern trombonists have reached various levels and degrees of success
through patience, persistence, and creativity. In addition to learning the repertoire,
Dempster maintains that there are pedagogical advantages to being able to perform many
of the extended techniques that are used throughout his commissions. 126 According to
Dempster, learning to produce multiphonics correctly on the trombone encourages
embouchure stability and sensitivity to intonation issues.127 Concerning vowel shaping,
he states that a young trombonists ability to assess any embouchure issues will increase
as they become more comfortable with the manipulation of it.128 Lastly, there is a
pleasure of learning these sounds and techniques simply for their own sake and

Dempster, interview by author.

appreciating the diversity and differences as they begin to define idiomsof the

2.1 Berio Sequenza V (1966)

Written in 1966, Luciano Berios Sequenza V marked the beginning of Stuart

Dempsters decades-long outpouring of commissions and dedications and also ushered in
a new era in composition for the trombone. In his article for Contemporary Music
Review, Barrie Webb writes, Luciano Berios Sequenza V now enjoys a firm place in the
repertory, and has been influential up to the present-day in encouraging the composition
of new works for solo trombone.130 This piece was premiered by Dempster on his first
full solo recital of avant-garde works for trombone on March 21, 1966.131
Luciano Berio (1925-2003) was born on the coast of Italy in the small Ligurian
port city of Oneglia.132 Growing up by the sea at the age of eleven, Berio had decided
that his dream career was as a captain of his own boat.133 Osmond-Smith explains that
Berio describes his own life as a voyage that has taken in many ports of call.134 Like
many great composers before him, Berio grew up in a musical family; his grandfather,
Adolfo, and his father, Ernesto, were both organists and composers.135 In 1944 having
reluctantly joined Mussolinis army, Berio was injured when a gun misfired, severely
injuring his right hand, which ruled out any possible future as a professional pianist.136

Barrie Webb, Performing Berios Sequenza V, Contemporary Music Review 26, no. 2: 207.
Welsh, 261.
Osmond-Smith. "Berio, Luciano."
David Osmond-Smith, Berio, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1.
Ibid, 3.

Beginning his musical studies with his musical father and grandfather, Berio went on to
study with Ghedini at the Milan Conservatorio. 137
On May 28th, 2003, Luciano Berios obituary appeared in the New York Times.
Paul Griffiths reports that Berios love for music was exuberantly promiscuous, and it
drew him close to Italian opera (especially Monteverdi and Verdi), 20th-century
modernism (especially Stravinsky), popular music (the Beatles, jazz), the great Romantic
symphonists (Schubert, Brahms, Mahler) and folk songs from around the world. 138
Berios musical output includes a variety of chamber music, electronic music, an opera,
and orchestral music.139 Among these compositions include his fourteen Sequenzas for
various instruments, one of which was written for unaccompanied trombone.140
Four men are seen as instrumental in the creation and emergence of Berios
Sequenza V written in 1966. These men include trombonists Stuart Dempster and Vinko
Globokar, Adrian Wettach Grock, and the composer himself. In a 1994 International
Trombone Association Journal, Buddy Baker compiled two written transcripts of taped
interviews with Dempster and Globokar discussing Berios Sequenza V.141 Dempster
admits that while he commissioned Berio to write the solo for him, Berio worked much
of the latter part of the Sequenza V with Vinko Globokar unbeknownst to me at the
time.142 Apparently, the last half of the piece, Section B, was composed first, having
been performed by Globokar in the mid-1960s as a piece called Essay.143 In regards to
the first half of the piece, Dempster explains that he and Berio worked certain parts of

Paul Griffiths, Luciano Berio Is Dead at 77; Composer of Mind and Heart, New York Times,
May 23, 2003, under Arts, html?res=9E00E2DF1131F93
A15756C0A9659C8B63 &sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1 (accessed September 24, 2008).
David Osmond-Smith,Berio, Luciano, Grove Music Online, 2003, http://www.oxfordmusico (accessed March 5, 2010).
Buddy Baker, Why? How about Who, Where, What, When?-The Development of Berios
Sequenza , International Trombone Journal 22, no.2, (Spring, 1994): 30-33.
Ibid., 30.
Ibid., 33.

this out together.144 While Berio had an outline of Section A, Dempster states that he
suggested the head turns and vowel sounds. 145 As Berio tried to come up with a way to
end Section A, the as awkward as possible line emerged. 146 Dempster explains that
this was created so youd look like youre really scuffling.147
As is present in the performance of the piece, the creation was also full of drama.
Even though Dempster commissioned the work, Berio failed to tell him he was working
with Globokar on the piece.148 Dempster goes on to say, maybe [Berio] thought Id be
mad if I found out there was another guy in on this thing when I was paying money to
commission the piece-he was probably right. 149 Globokar explains that he studied with
Berio beginning in 1964 and was told of future plans of a trombone Sequenza with
Dempster.150 Even though Dempster had two years of performance rights and first
recording rights to the piece, Globokar performed the London premiere of the piece and
the first recording of the work on the Deutsche Grammophon label, both at the request of
Berio himself. 151 In response to a letter written by Dempster, Globokar explains that he
did not know about [the rights] and that [he] had also asked Berio to make clear to
Stuart what he (Berio) had done. 152
The most important person to the creation of Sequenza V did not even know about
it. This person was Karl Adrien Wettach, also known as Grock. Inducted into the Clown
Hall of Fame in 1992, Grock was the highest-paid artist at one time in Europe.153 Born in

Ibid., 30.
Ibid., 31.
Ibid., 30, 33.
Ibid., 33.
Abbie Conant, Grocks Biography, Grock and the Berio Sequenza V, http://www.osborne- (accessed October 1, 2008).

1880 in Switzerland, he went on to become the King of Clowns in Europe in the early
1900s.154 One of the trademarks of Grocks act was his use of musical instruments; he
could play twenty-four different ones. 155 He died in Italy in 1959.156
It is common knowledge that Berio wrote his Sequenza V with Grock in mind. In
Dempsters pedagogical book, The Modern Trombone, he writes that Sequenza V tells the
story of Grock, while the trombonists actions acoustically and visually attempt to
portray this story. 157 Berio has admitted that the memory of Grock has played a pivotal
role in this piece.158 At the end of Grocks career, he had an extravagant villa built next
to Berios home in Italy.159 Berio recalls a significant Grock moment in his life:
Discovering him was a great moment, in him there was a musical quality blended
with humanity and deptha blend of humour and profundity. For example,
halfway through a wonderfully interpreted scene hed stop and stare at the
audience with an expression of confusionNo, it is impossible to describe it.
Hed ask warum? why? It was a really beautiful moment. Thats why I wrote a
sequenza about this warum?, only not warum? in German, but why? in English.160

In order to perform the piece as Berio envisioned, it is imperative that the relationship
and comparisons between Grock and Sequenza V are understood and used to portray the
Grock story.
As Berio previously states, the word WHY? is the ever-present question in this
piece, providing an overwhelming cohesion to this avant-garde work.161 Webb explains
that the word WHY? is the thematic key to the entire work.162 First, at the end of
Section A, the performer is required to ask WHY? in a bewildered way. Throughout

Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 76-77.
Conant, Grocks Biography.
Webb, 208.
Ibid., 211.

the work, the soloist is asked to use vocal sounds (u-a, u-a-i) with and without the
trombone that mimics the pronunciation of the word WHY?. Additionally, Berio uses
a metal plunger to reinforce the audible result of the word WHY? being heard in the
various trombone vocal techniques. Another way that Berio attempts to produce this
word audibly on the trombone is in the arrangement of pitches usually high-low-high.
From beginning to end, the fragments of the word Why? can be heard in the short
plunger openings and closings and in many of the multiphonic passages in Section B.
The performer is required to stand for Section A, which portrays one of Grocks
performances. Dempster says that this section and its continuing building of franticness
and hysteria should demonstrate how Grock might have performed the work had he been
a trombonist.163 The raising and lowering of the trombone in the beginning of the piece,
echoes one of Grocks performances with his miniature violin in which he would raise
and lower his head and the bow of the violin in dramatic fashion.164 At the end of the
first section before the vocal utterance of the word WHY?, the soloist plays four notes
in decreasing volume: G, B, G, B. These notes correspond to the first letters of the
composer and the clown: Grock, Berio, Grock, Berio.
The vocal exclamation of the word WHY? provides a bridge between the two
sections. Grock was known to have uttered this word in his own acts.165 On a more
personal level, Berio could be questioning why his neighbor Grock died not too long
before he wrote this piece. Another more philosophical explanation could be a general
question of WHY? Why do people who make such a positive impact on the world die?
Or even, why should such an avant-garde seemingly controversial piece be respected as a
work of art?
Before the beginning of Section B after the question WHY?, the performer
plays a pedal B-flat. Interestingly, this note is the fundamental of the overtone series in
first position on the trombone. When approached with a question that the answer is not

Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 77.
Webb, 208.

known, it is common to go back to the beginning; in this case, the beginning is the
fundamental, pedal B-flat.
Continuing into Section B, Grocks influence is always present. Contrary to
Section A, this section has the performer sitting, which was a common practice in some
of Grocks musical acts.166 Another possibility is that Section B is the breakdown of
Berios grief and feelings over the loss of his neighbor. With the performer seated in this
section and playing in an overall softer, more introspective manner, Section As use of
theatrical gestures create a sense of standing tall, while Section B could be seen as a
collapse of the performer over the death of Grock. Webb admits that this section could
be the composers In Memoriam to Grock.167
Techniques in the latter half of Sequenza V include multiphonics, continued use of
the metal plunger, inward singing (the process of vocalizing inhalations), flutter tonguing,
multiple tonguing, timbral trills, and vocalizations. All of these techniques are used to
create an uninterrupted sound palate that continues until the end of the work. At the end
of the work, Berio again alludes to Grock three times as the question WHY? is
presented (u-a-i). The piece ends with a seamless presentation of sound with
alternating voice and trombone on, not coincidentally, the note e, which impresses
upon the audience a sense of looking deep inside the heart of our thoughts on life and the
ever-present question, WHY?.
Even though it is common knowledge that homage to Grock was Berios intention
in Sequenza V, performances of the work differ greatly. For example, Dempster often
enter[s] in quite agitated fashion dressed in tails, while Vinko Globokar tends to
perform the work in normal dress and without theatrics allowing the observer to focus
on the performers gesture and the musical shaping. 168 As the performer is deciding the
degree of showmanship to portray, one resource that should be noted is trombonist Abbie
Conants website, which contains an entire section on Grock including video clips and

Ibid., 211.
Webb, 209.

commentary.169 While some performers opt to perform the work dressed in white face
and a clown costume, others point out that too much silliness could detract from the
substance found in the music.170 Globokar explains, When I saw the first time
somebody did it in a clownesque way, I found it superfluous, not necessary, because the
piece is so strong musically. 171 From Globokars normal dress to Dempsters formal
wear or even Toyija Tomitas use of white face, one of the first questions a performer
should address is the level of showmanship and theatrics they aim to portray.
An initial glance at the style of notation that Luciano Berio uses might seem
unfamiliar to many newcomers to modern music. Divided into two sections, Sequenza V
utilizes a system of proportional notation that can take some acclamation. The notation
of Section A requires the performer to pace themselves as instructed by gear changes
(expressed as 6, 4.5, 4 and 3) that are presented at the beginning of each line. 172
Similarly, Section B suggests a time unit of twelve seconds at the beginning, but its
pacing tends to depend more upon the breathing considerations of each performer.173
Therefore, every performance of this piece is different. For example, the lengths of
performance for the following Sequenza artists differ greatly: Stuart Dempsters
recording on Berio: The Complete Sequenzas-5:01, Vinko Globokars recording-7:28,
Christian Lindbergs recording on The Virtuoso Trombone- 5:18, and Christian
Lindbergs recording on The Solitary Trombone- 6:03. Other unconventional uses of
notation include the description of dynamic relationships through numbers and an added
line under each staff, which depicts the closing, opening, and rattling of the metal
A variety of extended techniques are used throughout this work, including
extensive use of a metal plunger, multiphonics, vowel shaping, inward singing, timbral
trills, and flutter tonguing. In order to be able to open, close, and rattle the metal plunger,

Conant, Grocks Biography.
Webb, 209.
Webb, 210.

the performer will need to adjust the balance of the instrument to the right hand,
especially during Section A that requires the horn to be raised and lowered. Stuart
Dempster maintains that the pinky of the right hand is essential to maintain balance,
while the left hand is engaged with the plunger. 174 Concerning multiphonics, the
challenge is to be able to sing not only above, but also below the played pitch. For many
this can prove to be a difficult task. In his The Modern Trombone, Dempster includes an
exercise for multiphonics that instructs the performer to sing and play a unison note and
then sing away from the unison slowly in either direction.175 Another consideration is the
low vocal range needed for the Sequenza V. Having performed the piece in 1976 by
singing many of the vocals an octave higher, Abbie Conant states that it is annoying in a
way, because [Sequenza V] presupposed that the player would be male.176 Berio also
utilizes vowel shaping, along with the use of the plunger, to allude to the recurring
motive of Sequenza V, Why?. In order to produce successfully particular consonants
(u, u a or u a i), the performer must reshape the embouchure to approximate the
given vowel requested. A much simpler technique is inward singing, which is the act of
producing sound as air is inhaled. Easily accomplished, this technique is a marvelous
theatrical gesture.177 Perhaps the most difficult aspect of timbral trills concerns
intonation. As the performer plays the same note quickly alternating between various
positions, intonation must be solid. Lastly, flutter tonguing tends to be an easy technique
for many to perform; however, some are genetically unable to roll their tongue, so a
guttural growl or some other creative substitute will be necessary.

2.2 Imbrie Three Sketches (1967)

Unlike many of the other commissions of Stuart Dempster, Andrew Imbries

Conant, Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life in Music.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 6.
Conant, Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life in Music.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 44.

Three Sketches is more conventional and seldom uses extended techniques. According to
Dempster, Imbrie apologized for his limited use of extended techniques, which Dempster
replied by saying, I wanted him to be himself and to compose what he really wanted to
compose and not feel he had to use new sounds.178 Other conventional characteristics of
Three Sketches include its three-movement scheme, lack of theatrics, and the use of piano
An American composer, Andrew Imbrie was highly successful at a very young
age. Beginning at the age of four, Andrew Imbrie (1921- 2007) found his first musical
exploits at the keyboard studying with Ann Abajian, Leo and Pauline Ornstein, Olga
Samaroff, Rosalyn Turek and Robert Casadesus.179 Imbries piano studies were soon
overtaken by his composition studies with teachers including Nadia Boulanger and Roger
Sessions.180 At the age of twenty-three, Imbrie received a New York Critics Circle
Award for his String Quartet No. 1, which was recorded by the Juilliard String Quartet.181
His other awards include the Prix de Rome (1947), the Alice Ditson Award (1947), the
National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant (1950), the Boston Symphony Merit Award
(1957), the Brandeis Creative Arts Award (1957), two Guggenheim Fellowships
(1953,1959), the Walter Hinrichsen Award (1971) and the Berkeley Citation (1991). 182
With commissions from the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Ford, and Naumburg Foundations,
the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Symphony
Orchestra, Imbries compositional output consists of five string quartets, two operas,
three symphonies, eight concertos, multiple songs for voice and numerous sonatas and
chamber works for various instruments.183 In addition to his career as a composer, Imbrie
served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley and the San Francisco

Dempster, Interview by author.
Olly W Wilson, In Memoriam: Andrew Welsh Imbrie, Professor of Music, Emeritus,
University of California, Berkeley Memorandum, (Berkeley, California: University of California, Berkeley
Press, 2007), 1.
Ibid., 3.
Ibid., 2-3.

Conservatory, along with visiting professorships at the University of Alabama, the
University of Chicago, and Brandeis, Harvard, and New York universities.184
Even though the work might seem more conventional than some of Dempsters
other commissions, Imbries Three Sketches does have some modern characteristics.
Written one year after Berios Sequenza V, Andrew Imbrie does not take advantage of the
theatrical nature of the trombone like Berio, but does utilize the expansive range and
dynamic extremes of the instrument. During the creation of Three Sketches, Imbrie asked
Dempster about high range capabilities of the trombone and Dempster said, I always
state that the C# above the tenor clef staff is the last really good sounding high
noteAndrew Imbrie in his Three Sketches, [goes] no higher than this C# but [uses] that
C# liberally. 185 Also, throughout the work the trombonist is required to adjust dynamics
dramatically, many times within the span of a few beats.
Three Sketches is structured in three movements with the slow movement
appearing last. At the beginning of each movement, Imbrie alludes to twelve-tone
serialism with presentations of rows that typically fail to develop completely after their
initial introduction. In addition to these intermittent row presentations, Imbrie also uses
complex rhythms that are typical of the style.
Even though the use of extended techniques is seldom, Imbrie does highlight a
few in Three Sketches. These include lip trills, multiphonics (simultaneously singing and
playing), timbral trills (rapid alternation of the slide positions on the same note), and the
use of piano resonance. During the second movement, the trombonist is required to
perform multiphonics in the middle and lower registers of the instrument, which
Dempster explains:
[Imbrie] wanted trills in that register and I suggested certain multiphonics in place
of them. Trills in that register are garbage - granted, that garbage would have a
certain appeal - but those multiphonics do virtually the same thing as the trill does
an octave higher. At least it is a good enough illusion to make for a much cleaner
result than an actual trill would do in that lower register. Those multiphonics are

Ann P. Basart and Martin Brody, Imbrie, Andrew. Grove Music Online, 2003,
http://www.oxford (accessed June
13, 2010).
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 101.

actually great sounds in their own right, but serve the function of the trill quite
well. Imbrie was quite happy with the result.186

At the end of the second movement, Imbrie concludes an extensive timbral trill passage
with the trombonist playing into the piano, capturing resonance from the instrument.
About this Dempster writes, it adds a whole new dimension to the trombone-piano
relationship, bringing about a climactic moment that would otherwise be rather
routine.187 Three Sketches ends with a sustained chord in the piano that spans six
octaves accompanied by a sustained multiphonic in the trombone.

2.3 Krenek Five Pieces (1967)

Austrian composer Ernst Krenek (1900-1991) wrote Five Pieces for trombone and
piano for Stuart Dempster in 1967. Even though the work consists of a variety of
extended techniques for the trombone including slap tongue, flutter tongue, mouthpiece
hits, removal of valve slides, timbral trills, a bark, throat clearing, shaking a plastic
handle in the bell and rolling the bell on piano strings, the pieces notational style is
traditional, not graphic like one might expect from such an avant-garde composition. In
an interview with fellow composer Will Ogdon concerning graphic notation, Krenek
Again I feel that some of these endeavors touch upon gimmickry, since the
unfamiliar and often very involved symbols make grasping the composer's ideas
more difficult, slow and uncertain, rather than facilitating it, which in my opinion
should be the ultimate purpose of any kind of notation. I apply this criticism also
to some of the elaborate prefaces and instructions we find in so many new scores
because they are more likely to befuddle the reader than to tell him in generally
understandable technical language how to go about playing the music.188

Dempster, Interview by author.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 68.
Will Ogdon and Ernst Krenek, Conversation with Ernst Krenek, Perspectives of New Music,
10, no. 2 (1972): 108.

Another unique characteristic of this work is the composers pairing of avant-garde
sounds of the trombone with similar avant-garde sounds of the piano. Stuart Dempster
points out that this was quite different than Berio or Erickson or even Suderburg [who
used] less of the raw materials, but developed them in their own special ways during the
course of their pieces.189
Born in 1900 in Vienna Austria, Ernst Krenek was a prodigy. Shortly after
beginning piano lessons at the age of six, he started composing for the instrument and
studied composition with Franz Schreker of the Vienna Music Academy. 190 According to
Garrett Bowles, Kreneks compositional style matured in the 1920s as favorable reviews
of his compositions led to a contract with Universal Edition.191 Also, during this time
period he met and married Anna Mahler, the daughter of Gustav Mahler, which afforded
him with an entre into the Mahler circle.192 One of his greatest public successes was
his opera Jonny spielt auf (Johnny Plays On), which contains many jazz-like elements,
similar to some of the jazz-influenced music of Igor Stravinsky and Darius Milhaud.193
This opera led to Kreneks exile from Germany by the Nazi regime as his opera was
targeted and labeled as degenerate music.194 Following his naturalization as a citizen
of the United States, Krenek began his journey in higher education, teaching at a variety
of schools including Malkin Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Vassar College,
Hamline University, and finally at the University of California, San Diego.195 With
nearly two hundred and fifty compositions, Krenek is regarded as a prolific writer and
critic, as well as an avid educator.196

Dempster, interview by author.
Michael Beckerman, Ernst Krenek, The Orel Foundation,
index.php/ composers/article/ernst_krenek (accessed June 29, 2010).
Garrett Bowles, Krenek, Ernst. Grove Music Online, 2003. http://www.oxfordmusic (accessed June 29, 2010).

Krenek wrote Five Pieces for Stuart Dempster after he retired to Palm Springs,
California. During this time, Krenek also served as an advisor during the formation of
the music department at the University of California, San Diego by his former student,
Robert Erickson.197 Throughout his Five Pieces, Krenek places the trombonist and
pianist on equal footing, demanding a high level of execution and coordination by both
parties. In the introductory movement, the composer presents an intricate musical
conversation between the two parts supported by the use of mutes, flutter tongue and
slide vibrato in the trombone and extreme low register demands in the piano. Following
this movement, the next begins with the emerging sound of the trombone alternating
between the bell and an open valve slide supported later by multiphonics and piano
resonance. The engagement of the outer hand slide on the top tube only in the third
movement allows the performer to approximate pitches through the trombone slide,
which Dempster points out, makes the trombone emulate a garden hose, about nine feet
long without a bell and with the slide fully stretched.198 Other techniques found in Five
Pieces include muttering through the trombone, rolling of the bell on the piano strings,
shaking a plastic-handled percussion stick against the bell, whistling over the
mouthpiece, and timbral trills. Similarly, the pianist is required to perform some unusual
techniques, such as plucking piano strings, tone clusters with the forearm, and striking a
part of the wooden structure of the piano. According to Dempster, one of his favorite
sounds is the dog bark, which follows the muttering in the third movement.199 He
explains that these vocal animal sounds are not difficult, and they have a long tradition
in didjeridu playing. 200

2.4 Erickson General Speech (1969)

Much of Robert Ericksons music fails to fall into the mainstream of todays
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 48.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 40.
Ibid, 41.

classical music. Charles Shere regards Erickson as a maverick, similar to other
composers like Charles Ives, Edgard Varse, Harry Partch, and John Cage.201 While
these other composers were finally accepted as essential to the forward momentum of the
western classical musical tradition, specifically the music of America; Ericksons place in
the time-line and evolution of 20th century American music has yet to be determined. 202
In 1968, Erickson composed General Speech for solo trombone. Stuart Dempster, who
commissioned this work, regards this piece as one of the most amazing and thought-
provoking works ever composed for the trombone.203 In summation, Charles Shere
describes this piece as a theater piece that combines political satire, instrumental
virtuosity, and the composers continuing research into the no-mans land existing
between speech and music.204
Born in 1917, this Michigan natives early beginnings were surrounded by sounds
both musical and non-musical. In addition to the maverick label, Shere also states that
Erickson is quintessentially American, and small-town middle-American, self-taught to
a great extent, a tinkerer.205 Ericksons mother died during the Great Flu Epidemic of
1918, so young Erickson was traded among his various relatives, all of whom were
musically talented: his uncle Harold was a piano tuner, his uncle Emil built pianos, his
uncles Gus and Andrew built violins, his father played mandolin, and his step-mother
sang and played violin.206 Other influences on the young composer were the sounds of
Lake Superiors waves, gentle or rough depending on the weather, beaver tails slapping
at the water as they built their dams, and various streams.207 In his Summer Music for
solo violin, Erickson used the natural sounds of running water to accompany the

Charles Shere, Thinking Sound Music : The Life and Work of Robert Erickson (Berkeley, CA:
Fallen Leaf Press, 1997), xv.
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 81.
Shere, Thinking Sound Music, 152-153.
Ibid, 3.
Ibid, 3-4.
Ibid, 4.

violinist.208 Industrial noise heard in his childhood can also be traced to many of his later
compositions.209 Erickson explains, When you come right down to it, what we all do is
compose our environment.210
While studying at Michigan State University and Hamline College, Erickson
made many acquaintances. These include his composition teachers May Strong, Wesley
La Violette, Ernst Krenek, and Roger Sessions.211 In addition, he became close friends
with Ben Weber and George Perle, both composers.212 While at Michigan State
University, Arnold Schoenberg visited and presented a lecture on Brahms. At a reception
after the lecture, Erickson was able to meet with Schoenberg and arrange a time the next
day for Schoenberg to take a look at Ericksons music.213 While Schoenberg silently
looked over Ericksons short composition, Erickson recalls:
I wondered what he was looking forthe pieces werent that difficult. Perhaps
he was looking for rows, or more likely some sort of musical sense. For tone
rows he would have had to search all day. Those pieces were, as I remember,
violently atonal, athematic and without much rhythmic profile. I was a long way
from thinking about organization. Anyway, like any beginner I wanted to know
only if he liked them, if he thought there was any hope, if he thought I should give
it all up or continue. Big questions, to be settled by no more than a hundred little
black notes. Not much evidence on which to pronounce. There must have been
some sort of communication because I left the meeting encouraged, buoyant 214

After brief service in the Army, Erickson moved to California to teach and
compose. In San Francisco, California, Erickson taught at San Francisco State, University
of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco Conservatory where he was a significant
influence on younger composers such as Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, and Morton

Ibid, 5.
Ibid, 3-5.
Art of States, General speech (1969),
(accessed March 26, 2010).
Charles Shere, Erickson, Robert, Grove Music Online, 2003. http://www.oxford (accessed March 26,2010).
Art of States.
Charles Shere, Thinking Sound Music, 18.

Subotnick.215 Also, Erickson co-founded the music department at University of
California, San Diego, whose main focus was contemporary music performance and
research.216 In addition to his teaching and composition, he wrote many articles on topics
ranging from ancient Greek and Chinese tunings, phonetic influences on music, teaching
Mahlerian orchestration and contrapuntal composition.217 His books include The
Structure of Music: A Listener's Guide (1955) and Sound Structure in Music (1975).218
The first collaboration that Robert Erickson and Stuart Dempster shared took
place in the spring of 1966 at the San Francisco Tape Center with Ricercar a 5, a piece
for a quartet of pre-recorded trombones that would accompany a live trombone soloist,
five Dempsters.219 Erickson stated that
sounds are no use to a composer until they are fully absorbed, familiar enough to
be controllable, so I suggested to Stu that we meet at my house on Tuesday and
Thursday mornings to play with these sounds and their nuances. We met for
several months, mornings fro nine to twelve, twice a week, and that long period of
working so closely with a great instrumentalist profoundly altered my approach to

While most of the technical improvements Erickson attributes to Dempster, he maintains

that some of the overall sound concepts were his own.221 The first performance of
Ricercar a 5 was joined with works by Barney Childs, Larry Austin, John Cage, Pauline
Oliveros, and Luciano Berio.222 This performance took place at the San Francisco Tape
Center and was Stuart Dempster's first all-out recital of new music.223

Art of States.
Charles Shere, Erickson, Robert.
Charles Shere, Thinking Sound Music., 70.
Ibid., 71.
Ibid., 72.

As a theater piece, General Speech is Robert Ericksons interpretation and
perspective on General Douglas MacArthurs farewell speech given at Westpoint in 1962
as he was awarded the Thayer Award. Historian David McCullough explains:
You couldn't shrug your shoulders at Douglas MacArthur. There was nothing
bland about him, nothing passive about him, nothing dull about him. There's no
question about his patriotism, there's no question about his courage, and there's no
question, it seems to me, about his importance as one of the protagonists of the
20th century.224

Dempster explains that MacArthur always seemed to convey this image of being about
nine feet tall as he was revered in some parts of the world and reviled in others. 225 As
Erickson played recordings of MacArthur's speech, both Erickson and Dempster were
taken with the amazing vocal style.226
Contrary to what one may believe, delivering this speech through the trombone
was not an easy task. Erickson states that it is easy to deliver speech through a
trombone, much harder to produce esophagal speech through it, and most difficult to
make musicalized speech transformations. 227 Erickson explained that once he gave
Dempster an audio example of a speech fragment, he would return with various
possibilities on the trombone.228 In a manuscript from an upcoming book, Dempster
We set to work on what turned out to be about three hundred hours of side by side
work. He would play a tape of MacArthur speaking, and ask me to transliterate it
through the trombone. On a two or three word phrase it would often take twenty
or thirty minutes, as Erickson would describe the nuances that would make the
phrase just right. Finally (with great relief), I would get the phrase or word
perfectly. I thought, "Wonderful, that's done," but he would then look at me and
say, "Now tell me what you are doing." Flabbergasted, I would start in, again
playing the little phrase or word over and over, all the while Erickson probing the
little nuances that made the sound work. On and on we would work until we had

Digger History. General Douglas MacArthur.
leaders/ww2/macarthur.htm (accessed March 26, 2010).
Dempster, Interview by author.
Erickson, 75.

a notation that represented what was really going on. This continued through
three generations of the score over a period of about a year. The end result is a
surprisingly clear score considering the difficulty of notating speech. 229

The traditional presentation of the notation cannot be overemphasized, because it

enables a performer to assimilate the piece more quickly. 230 Written in bass clef, the
notation is spatial with the speed depending upon the pacing of the speech. All dynamic
considerations are presented in a traditional way and all extended techniques are notated
clearly with arrows up or down for microtones and directions for other techniques, such
as slap tongue or diaphragm vibrato. In addition to the staff, Erickson also includes two
lines of text. While the smaller text is the actual speech of General MacArthur, the larger
text is the same speech spelled phonetically. Lastly, several pauses are notated with
fermatas and time durations with specific instructions, such as hard stare, survey
audience or drink from half-filled water glass. 231
A huge asset to solving many of the speech to trombone problematic issues was
the study of the didjeridu. Following his introduction to the Australian instrument in
1967 by Robert Erickson, Dempster received a Fullbright fellowship in 1973 to study the
didjeridu with Australian aboriginals.232 Many of the vowel and consonant shaping
techniques found in General Speech are also used in traditional didjeridu performance
practices.233 Dempster maintains that the vowel enunciations on the didjeridu are
extremely important to achieve clarity approaching speech.234
Ericksons interpretation includes the presentation of this famous speech through
the bell of the trombone. In the performance notes for the piece, the performer is
instructed to wear full dress tails with medals and other appropriate insignia painted with

Stuart Dempster, Unpublished manuscript excerpt from the chapter Working with Robert
Erickson in the book, Stuart Dempster at Work. Emailed by Dempster to author, January 27, 2010.
Ibid., 27.
Ibid, 85-86.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Stuart Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 94.

fluorescent paint, a military hat, dark glasses, shoulder pads, and white satin gloves.235 In
addition to the costume considerations, the soloist must prepare a podium adorned with
small American flags, along with an adjoining table on which there is a pitcher of water
and a glass to be used during the piece.236 Attention to lighting is necessary with the need
for a spotlight, black light, and two red lights on a dimmer.237
While the range and other traditionally technical demands of fast articulations or
large leaps are not present, General Speech is a very difficult piece to perform well.
Along with researching the mannerisms of General MacArthur, the trombonist must
acquire and master all of the theatrical elements and extended trombone techniques of the
piece. These aspects include stage directions, acting, vowel shaping, microtones, flutter
tongue, throat sounds, velar click, half-valve notes, privileged notes, and vibrato.238 The
stage directions and acting are clearly described and notated in the music. Throughout
the performance of this work, the trombonist must maintain character by producing hard
stare(s) and a pointed jaw.239 Other theatrical aspects include taking a moment to
stick out the chest to show off the medals, coughing through the instrument followed
by a quick drink of water, and various lighting effects at the conclusion of the work.240 As
far as the performance techniques in this piece, most commonly used one in General
Speech is vowel shaping, which requires the trombonist to reposition the tongue and
reshape the oral cavity to approximate a particular vowel sound. In order for the words
of the speech to be heard and understood by the audience, the performer must strive for
clarity, which can be a very difficult thing to grasp in a short amount of time. Dempster
reiterates this importance by saying, I must continually work to execute vowels and
consonants properly, although, it must be admitted, it has been far easier since studying

Ibid., 82.
Gerald Felker, Thoughts on the Study and Performance of General Speech, In International
Trombone Journal 32, no. 1, (Winter 2004): 32.
Ibid, 83.

the didjeridu.241 According to Dempster, the most elegant example of the best
microtones is found in General Speech.242 These presentations of microtones create
flexibility in pitch that helps to mimic the sound of human speech.243 Utilization of
diaphragm vibrato is mainly for theatrical effect on particular long-held syllables.
Ericksons notation of this technique is very clear. Another technique used in this piece
is throat sounds. Primarily mimicking coughing or throat clearing, the performer is
required to produce this sound twice through the trombone, the second time with their
hand over the bell followed by a quick drink of water. Half-valve notes and split tones
are clearly notated throughout the piece and further support the sprechstimme quality
that Erickson and Dempster were hoping to achieve.244
The soloist is instructed to shape the embouchure in certain ways, while playing,
so as to imitate General MacArthur speaking. For example, the Generals speech begins,
Duty, Honor, Country245 Erickson instructs the trombonist to use the following
annunciations while playing to effectively imitate these three words, DOO-TEEYON-
ORCUNTTREEEEEE.246 Explaining the reasoning for the phonetically spelled
syllables, Dempster states that the pronunciation of the English word, ski, is actually
pronounced, suki.247 Similarly, the word, country, is actually pronounced,
cunthuhree, hence the need for attention to these detailed pronunciations in the score if
the goal for MacArthurs speech being recognized through the bell of the trombone is
ever achieved.248 Even though the text might not be clearly heard, its inflections are

Ibid., 17.
Ibid., 27.
General Douglas MacArthur, Duty, Honor, Country, YouTube Web site, (accessed March 26,2010).
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 85.
Ibid, 16.

unmistakable, and enough of the words do come through to make Erickson's extramusical
meaning clear.249
This parody of MacArthur's speech on the trombone, as previously stated, was a
collaborative effort. Many of the visual conceptions, lighting, and costume ideas were
developed by Robert Erickson's wife, Lenore Erick-Alt, an artist working in painting and
with stained glass.250 In addition to the contributions already mentioned, Dempster also
provided some of the ideas for the staging, gestures, pacing, and the final title of the
work. Erickson supports the importance of this collaboration, stating that his wife, and
Dempster were equally important to the final result, and that collaboration, which was
more like constant cross-fertilization, is the chief reason for its success.251

2.5 Suderburg Chamber Music III: Night Set (1972)

Robert Suderburgs utilization of extended techniques in his Chamber Music III:

Night Set for trombone and piano is unique compared to the other commissions being
discussed. While the work does have some avant-garde characteristics, the approach that
Suderburg takes is considerably influenced by jazz. Included in the score to the Chamber
Music III is a dedication written by the composer to his jazz trombonist-father, R.A.
Thus, when commissioned by Stuart Dempster for a Night Set for trombone, the
musical occasion was offered to let out those hot-licks and sliding-styles which
were the jazz trombonists stock and trade during the thirties and forties as he
wandered from indoor dance hall to outdoor bandstand and from club date to
stage show. Hopefully, nurtured by Dempsters unique performance-art, these
styles and scenes can live again in NIGHT SET, fusing memory with filial bit-of-
the-devil and sweetness with satire. Thus the work is dedicated to my father,

Charles Shere, Thinking Sound Music, 153.
Stuart Dempster, Unpublished manuscript excerpt from the chapter Working with Robert
Erickson in the book, Stuart Dempster at Work.
Erickson, 76.

who-along with Stuart Dempster-should take a bow, at least for those portions of
the work which may please or amuse. 252

Born in 1936, Robert Suderburg grew up in a musical family. His father, a jazz
trombonist, and his mother, a school teacher, introduced Robert Suderburg to music at an
early age.253 Beginning at the age of eight, he took lessons on trumpet and piano at the
MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota.254 With degrees from the
University of Minnesota, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania, his
primary composition teachers were Earl George, Paul Fetler, Quincy Porter, Richard
Donovan and George Rochberg.255 Throughout the majority of his life, Suderburg
maintained a dual career as a composer and academic. He served as Chancellor of the
North Carolina School of the Arts from 1974 to 1984 and recently retired from Williams
College where he was Composer-in-Residence and Chairman of the Department of
Music.256 In addition to thirteen pieces in his Chamber Music series, Suderburgs
compositional output also includes works for choir, solo voice with chamber orchestra,
band, percussion ensemble, and one work for amplified trombone and automobile
Stuart Dempster and Robert Suderburgs relationship began several years before
Chamber Music III: Night Set was conceived. According to Dempster, they met in
Philadelphia around 1966 and later worked together in a contemporary music ensemble
that Suderburg formed at the University of Washington.258 Not only did this ensemble
receive a $250,000 Rockefeller Grant in 1967, but commissioned works by George

Robert Suderburg, Chamber Music III: Night Set, (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania: Theodore
Presser Company, 1980).
Michael Miles, An Interpretive and Stylistic Analysis of the Chamber Music VII and Chamber
Music VIII for Trumpet and Piano by Robert Suderburg (DMA diss., University of Kentucky, 1991), 4.
Ibid, 5.
Ibid, 6.
Dempster, Interview by author.

Crumb, George Rochberg, Steve Albert, David Berg, Loren Rush, Andrew Imbrie, and
John Eaton.259 Following this stint in Washington, Dempster and Suderburgs paths
crossed again when they both moved east, Dempster in residence at the University of
Illinois in the Center for Advanced Study and Suderburg at Brooklyn College. 260
Dempster recalls, We became fast friends, and I made some trips to see him during that
season and that was when [Chamber Music III: Night Set] first took its shape.261
Written in three movements, Chamber Music III: Night Set combines many of
Dempsters techniques, while being inspired by Suderburgs father. Dempster suggested
the use of a harmon mute, a plunger mute and a hat mute. 262 Continuing, Dempster
explains that prior to the first performance of the piece, he rummaged around and found
[his] two (count em, two!) white 1950s dinner jacketsmore accurately, yellowed
whiteand with special lighting [they] had a lovely performance complete with actors.
In addition to these suggestions, Dempster also encouraged Suderburg to rearrange the
movements from the original order, which began with what is now the third movement to
what is currently published. 263
Each of the three movements of this work presents a different audible scene that
has subtle links to one another. In order to create a tranquil and transparent atmosphere
in the first movement (cry, man), Suderburg utilizes soft dynamics, a straight mute, and
various minimalistic allusions, which set up a warm palate for the pianists voice to be
added to the texture. Providing a recollection back to the big bands of the 1930s, the
second movement (its been a long, long time) uses the hat mute and the resonance of
the piano to serve as a visual and acoustical symbol of this era. Other extended
techniques in this movement include the buzzed-lip glissando, where Suderburg asks the
performer to imitate the style of Vic Dickenson or, more recently, Phil Wilson. 264 The

Miles, 5.
Dempster, Interview by author.
Stuart Dempster, Unpublished manuscript excerpt from the chapter Working with Robert
Suderburg in the book, Stuart Dempster at Work, Emailed by Dempster to author, January 27, 2010.
Dempster, Interview by author.

final movement (brother Devil) includes extensive use of vowel shaping and speaking
by the trombonist and pianist. Towards the end of the movement, Suderburg requires the
trombonist to use a wa-wa or harmon mute, while the pianist adds ha-ha laughter
written in imitative counterpoint.265 A cadenza played in the style of one of Duke
Ellingtons trombonists, Tricky Sam Nanton, is soon followed by a recapitulation of
material from the first movement, which serves as bookends to this piece. In one of the
first performances of the piece, one critics review states, the music for trombone sought
an expanded role for the player, a role that made performance theatrical and often
When planning to perform this work, the soloist must keep in mind the gender of
the pianist. In the outer movements, the pianist is required to sing or speak in a lower
register that could be difficult for many female accompanists. However, this gender
requirement could be avoided with the usage of a male page turner who would sing and
speak the necessary parts instead. Overall, the singing parts are not difficult, but the
spoken ha-ha counterpoint that accompanies the trombonists wa-wa mute passage in
the final movement could take some coordination on the part of both parties.
Another consideration concerns the set-up of the piano, mutes, and soloist.
During the second movement, the soloist is required to face towards piano to pick up
some echo, while playing into a hat mute.267 The logistics of turning towards the piano
at the end of the first movement as the pianist is finishing, placing the hat mute in a
position that is suitable for the bell and allows the slide room to function does take some
brainstorming. Positioning a hat mute stand to the left of the trombone slide and a music
stand to the right is a set-up that seems to work best, but the performer must have both
stands high enough, so as to avoid the slide being angled into the side of the piano.
In addition to a plunger mute, straight mute, and harmon mute, Chamber Music
III also uses several extended techniques including the buzzed-lip glissando, vowel
shaping and speaking. Suderburgs instructions for the buzzed-lip glissando are to begin
Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 76.
Daniel Webster, Washington University Concert Has Quality, Wit, Polished Performers,
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1972: 23.

as a lip-buzz away from the mouthpieceby the time the top note of the glissando is
reached, the mouth and mouthpiece should be as normal.268 Throughout the execution
of this technique, it is imperative for the performer to keep the air moving, especially at
the reemergence of the trombone sound at the end of the glissando. Any loss of air speed
or volume could prove detrimental to the success of this technique. Even though the
vowel shaping section of this piece is not as extensive as Ericksons General Speech, the
performer must aim for clarity, especially on the ee syllables by bringing the back of
the tongue to the roof of the mouth. The success of the spoken portion of the final
movement depends most upon pacing and coordination with the pianist. It is quite
acceptable for the audience to laugh at this point in the piece. Finally, Suderburg
concludes the work with a very tight plunger mute passage. 269 Playing softly in the
upper register with a very tight plunger mute can prove precarious, so it might be in the
best interest of the performer to play slightly louder to increase the chances of success.

2.6 Erb Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (1976)

Donald Erb (1927-2008) wrote two commissions for Stuart Dempster, and then,
toward the endfor trombone and tape (1971) and Concerto for Trombone and
Orchestra (1976), along with a dedication written in 1968 entitled In No Strange Land
for trombone, contrabass, and tape. According to author Richard Peery, Erb believed that
any sound from running water to electronics could be used in music.270 Donald Erb
explains, Id like my music to have the clarity of classical music, the passion of
Romanticism, and the freedom of jazz.271 His Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra
embraces this mantra.

Richard Peery, Donald Erb: avant-garde composer, conductor, http://www.cleveland.
com/arts/inde x.ssf/2008/08/donald_erb_avantguard_composer.html (accessed July 1, 2010).
Howard Klein, Donald Erb: Drawing Down the Moon, (New York, NY: Recorded Anthology
of American Music Inc, 1994), 3.

An Ohio native, Erbs first passion was jazz. According to Howard Klein, Erb
grew up playing jazz trumpet in dance bands and joined the Navy during World War II
hoping to be admitted to the Navys School of Music.272 Instead, he was stationed at
Pearl Harbor as a radar operator, which was an occupation with a sound environment of
high pitches and bleeps that may have set the stage for his forays into electronic music in
the Sixties.273 After studying trumpet and earning a bachelors degree at Kent State
University after the war, Erb moved back to Ohio to study composition with Marcel Dick
at the Cleveland Institute of Music.274 Completing his masters degree at The Cleveland
Institute, Erb studied briefly with Nadia Boulanger before finishing a doctorate at Indiana
University under the tutelage of Bernard Heiden.275 He has written ten concertos and
many other solo, symphonic and chamber works that include improvisatory and
aleatoric elements that [reflect] his experience as a jazz musician. 276
Stuart Dempster and Donald Erb first met nearly five years before Concerto was
written. They joined forces for the first time in 1967 as they began to record In No
Strange Land, which was released in 1968 with Bert Turetzky on bass. 277 A year later,
Dempster approached Erb about writing a piece for him.278 The first piece that Dempster
commissioned was and then toward the end, which he explains was composedby
design, a mini-concerto that would allow [Erb] (and me) to approach a solo with
accompaniment that would ultimately lead to the Concerto.279
Premiered by Stuart Dempster and the Saint Louis Symphony in March of 1976,
Erbs Concerto takes many of the extended techniques of Dempster and places them in a
Klein, 1.
Vivien Schweitzer, Donald Erb, Composer of Early Electronic Music, Dies at 81, New York
Times, August 15, 2008, under Music,
html?_r=3&scp=1&sq= donald%20erb&st=cse&oref=slogin (accessed July 1, 2010).
Dempster, Interview by author.

more conventional setting. Following the spirited opening movement and cadenza, the
second movement includes random-noted passages, very wide trills, inward singing, and
the use of a harmon mute. Just as in Berios Sequenza V, inward singing requires the
performer to vocalize their inhalation. Dempsters double finger tremolo is included at
the end of the movement, which requires the performer to alternate quickly two fingers
on and off the stem of the harmon mute.280 In addition to multiphonics, the trombonist is
also required to alternate playing and singing in various sections of the third movement.
The final movement contains one of the main influences of Erbs compositional style, his
ever-present interest in the Australian aboriginal didjeridu. Dempster explains:
Of course, he would ask me to play [the didjeridu] whenever I was around, and it
is not surprising that the didjeridu sound found its way into the Concerto. I
always played vigorously with his kids, and he often would invite some of the
neighborhood kids into his house where we would stage what he called gross-
outs. I made all kinds of whacky sounds - anything silly that I could think of -
and sometimes the then Cleveland Orchestra tubist Ron Bishop was invited to join
in the fray (I had known Ron Bishop earlier in San Francisco). All this activity
fed into Erb's internal sound files, some of which found their way into the
various pieces that he wrote for trombone. 281

Dempster, The Modern Trombone, 35.
Dempster, interview by author.


After celebrating his seventy-fourth birthday on July 7, 2010, Stuart Dempsters

creative musical output fails to slow. In Seattle, Washington he currently performs with
Artkoamia, Eye Music, Pran, Sun Ra Tribute Band, and Sunship.282 Artkoamia is a
group that includes William O. Smith and their painter wives. 283 As the name of the
group might suggest, Eye Music aims to realize visually interesting scores. 284 Pran
consists of a trombonist playing Dhrupad vocal styles, which typically are modal,
monophonic lines, as Dempster plays didjeridu in the style of the Indian drone
instrument, the tambura.285 The Sun Ra Tribute Band includes use of costumed
processionals.286 Lastly, Sunship, a five-piece group that is inspired by John Coltrane,
Sun Ra, and Ornette Coleman, produces a cutting-edge avant-jazz style reminiscent of
the free jazz of the late 1960s.287 Along with these Seattle-based groups, Dempster
maintains that one of his primary focuses continues to be performing in Deep Listening
Band with Pauline Oliveros and David Gamper.
Not only is Dempster still an active performer, he also has several books in
various stages of completion. These include a book on the history of Deep Listening
Band and another book, Working with Stuart Dempster, which consists of chapters about
the various composers with whom he commissioned or collaborated.288 Other writing
projects include compiling journal notes from his tours with Merce Cunningham Dance
Company and finishing a collection of scores of his various solo compositions.

Dempster, interview by author.

Countless students, composers, colleagues, and friends have enjoyed the creativity
and musical prowess of Stuart Dempster over the past fifty years. Almost single-
handedly responsible for placing the trombone at the forefront of the virtuosic music of
the avant-garde, Dempster encouraged many composers to write for an instrument that
might not have even been given a second look. Published in 1979, his book, The Modern
Trombone, is still a leading pedagogical text for trombonists and composers interested in
extended techniques for the instrument. When asked what he desired his legacy to be,
Dempster replied:
I would propose that I may have proffered a useful definition of the trombone
palette, redirected and deepened the advance of trombone literature, and assisted
both students and professionals in recognizing possibilities and realizing

At the 2010 International Trombone Festival, Stuart Dempster was awarded the ITAs
Lifetime Achievement Award. He accepted this award via SKYPE, but will be given this
award in person at the 2011 International Trombone Festival in Nashville, Tennessee.





Note: Text in italics belongs to the interviewer (McIlwain), while the text without italics
belongs to Stuart Dempster. Entire interview with Stuart Dempster occurred via e-mail
beginning on January 14, 2010. All correspondence and statements are copied as

MCILWAIN: From my research I have not been able to find a complete listing of your
commissions, collaborations, and pieces dedicated to you. If possible, could you provide
this list? Do you value any of these works more than the others? If so, why?

DEMPSTER: Yes, I have an old but surprisingly up to date list. Just now I have added
one relatively new piece Anterior View..., by Richard Karpen (the title is really long).
Interestingly, his piece will likely be going through a revision during 2010.
Not surprisingly, I tend to value commissions more than dedications simply
because I have been way more deeply involved in their composition. Some commissions
started out as a dedicated piece and then became commissions because of my (and the
composers) increased interest in further involvement.
I have attached my old list which runs from ca. 1966-1985 but with the added
Karpen piece. Karpen's piece is from 2003 and, by the way, is recorded on Centaur.

MCILWAIN: In your interview with Abbie Conant you talked briefly about your youth
and first exposures to the trombone. Did you have any particular musicians that you
listened to or aspired to that had an impact on your playing? What did you mean by
"music was my salvation"?

DEMPSTER: Even though I was primarily trained as a classical musician I had a lot of
early exposure to jazz while in high school. I mostly listened to specific San Francisco
Bay Area jazz trombonists such as Kid Ory (yes, he had an extensive "second career" in
the Bay Area) and Turk Murphy and also various traveling bands (live and on recordings)
such as Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Frank Rosolino,
Spike Jones, and many others. There was not the availability of classical trombonists to
listen to like there is now and, frankly, I was (and still am) more interested in "music"
rather than "trombonists".

As a very young child I listened to a lot of opera including Gilbert &Sullivan, and
all kinds of classical symphonies. In college I listened to everything I could get a hold of.
World music had not yet become easily available, but by the time I was in grad school
(1960-63) I was listening to a fair amount of that as well. And a great deal of new music
of all kinds. Also humor such as Anna Russell, Victor Borge, Hoffnung festivals, and
others--such as PDQ Bach that came along later.
Referring to Abbie Conant's interview of me, the "Music was my salvation"
comment goes to my not doing all that well in other subjects (in high school and
undergrad college in particular).

MCILWAIN: Do you feel that learning avant-garde music is valuable and important to
the aspiring trombonist? If so, why?

DEMPSTER: I deal with this question in my book, but maybe not as completely
or as much as I should have. The book, of course, is for both composers and trombonists
so I likely tempered getting into too much trombone player-specific considerations.
There is an old adage, "Don't play those funny sounds; they will wreck your traditional
playing." There is some truth to this--but only for the short-term.
Taking simply multiphonics and vowels as examples, delving into either of these
can temporarily cause the player to go a little blank about issues concerning the
traditional embouchure. Multiphonics require a type of multitasking that trombonists are
neither used to nor schooled in. Certainly not in the way that, say, pianists, organists,
harpists and many other instruments take for granted. This is likely to change in this
current era of all kinds of day-to-day multitasking that has become somewhat of a
competition on the part of some. In any case, learning multiphonics well assists one in
learning embouchure stability as well as becoming more sensitive to intonation issues.
In examining the value of learning different vowels it should be noted that
sensitivity to the traditional bel-canto embouchure is heightened. A player working on
vowels will eventually notice if he or she drifts--even a little bit--from the traditional
embouchure. Thus it is possible to make embouchure adjustments "on the fly" as it were
and, thereby, accomplish more during a practice session.

Further, there is the pleasure of learning these sounds and techniques simply for
their own sake and appreciating the diversity and differences as they begin to define
"idioms" of the trombone. Generally, the idioms or "sound palette" of the trombone is
minimally exploited or used by composers except in the context of jazz--and by
aboriginal Australians on the didjeridu--and new techniques are a way of becoming
acquainted with the larger trombone spectrum.
I am reminded of my favorite Abbie Conant quote, "One does not master the
trombone [or any instrument] but, rather, develops a relationship with it."

MCILWAIN: Can you describe the commissioning and collaborating process you have
experienced working with these various composers?

DEMPSTER: This is a huge question, so we can just see where it goes.

Berio: Be sure and see the article "Why: How About Who, Where, What,
When?: The Development of Sequenza V" by Buddy Baker in ITA Journal (Vol. 22, No.
2, Spring 1994, pp. 30-33, author listed incorrectly in table of contents). As it turns out, I
have put it in attachment below. A very important article with interviews of both me and
Vinko Globokar. Further than that, I had only three or four days to learn Section A of
Sequenza V and had to fly to Boulder, Colorado in order to work with him while he
completed it. He graciously accepted some of my suggestions. I have been told that
there is something floating around on the internet of my first performance. I have spared
myself trying to find or listen to that because I know it sounds every bit as though I only
had a few days on it. I worked with him in many contexts, but not always in the
compositional process of Sequenza V but rather in my performance of it. A bit of nuance
here; another bit there. Below in attachment is the interview: If you use any of the
Buddy Baker article in my Appendix III, you would need to obtain permission from ITA
Journal editor (as I did for use in my "...At Work" book).
Erickson: There are two commissions the first being Ricercar (or Ricercare) 5
and the second being General Speech. Both the scores of Ricercar 5 and General
Speech (the versions that I edited) are published by Smith Publications. Both are loaded
with notes about performance. General Speech, of course, figures prominently in my

book but there are plenty of notes in my book about Ricercar as well. First step: You
need to track down the chapter "Working with Stuart Dempster" in Robert Erickson's
"Hearing Things". You need to know that "Hearing Things" is the second part of a book
by John MacKay called Music of Many Means: Sketches and Essays on the Music of
Robert Erickson. Hopefully your library will be willing to acquire it, or maybe you can
get it through interlibrary loan. (Saw it used on a Barnes and Noble site for ca. $38 - lists
at $75) It is an incredibly important book. After you have managed to do all that, you
need to read the relevant portions of my book again. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from
my book: My original "Working with Robert Erickson" first appeared in
Poets.Painters.Composers. No. 5 (1990) pp. 64-65. 1990 Poets.Painters.Composers.,
Carl Diltz and Joseph Keppler, editors, 10254 - 35th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98146.
Used by permission. If you use part of the above excerpt you would need to get
permission from Joseph Keppler (address above). I should be able to assist in that if
Suderburg: The Presser publication lists the title as Chamber Music III (Night
Set) etc. In recent years (and I believe also the recording) may list it as Night Set
(Chamber Music III) etc. I first met Robert Suderberg in Philadelphia in ca. 1966 or 67,
and then we were colleagues at the University of Washington beginning in 1968 until he
moved east during the same autumn (1971) that I was in residence at the University of
Illinois in the Center for Advanced Study during 1971-72. He was teaching at Brooklyn
College. We became fast friends, and I made some trips to see him during that season
and that was when the piece first took its shape. He was surprisingly agreeable to my
suggestion that the movements or parts of movements be changed to the current
published order. The original order started with what now begins movement three. We
worked closely, and toward the end when we were approaching the premiere, he
suggested that we have a "cabaret" setting on stage. We couldn't do it right away, but I
rummaged around and found my two (count 'em, two!) white 1950s dinner jackets--more
accurately, yellowed white--and with special lighting we had a lovely performance
complete with actors later on at North Carolina School of the Arts where he was
Chancellor for a time. Attached is an excerpt from my book.

I am staying with these three composers (four pieces including the two Erickson
items). You will note that I likely worked the least with Berio, the most--far and away
the most--with Erickson, and working with Suderburg was somewhere in the middle.
This whole business of commissioning and how I worked (and work) with
composers would take up a book, which is precisely the book I am supposedly writing.
So this will be as far as I go with this question, at least for now.

MCILWAIN: I know from your writings and previous interviews that the didjeridu has
been a huge influence in your composing, performing, and your collaborations with other
composers. In your book, you discussed your time spent in Australia. Could you discuss
this experience and your relationship with the didjeridu?

DEMPSTER: The didjeridu discovered me at the behest of Robert Erickson after he had
completed Ricercar 5 but before General Speech. He had a didjeridu which he loaned
to me. It was 1967 and after he located a bit of tape--about 45 seconds-worth--that I
much later discovered had come from Elkin's LP "Tribal Music of Australia". I figured
out what circular breathing must be and tried doing it beginning with a straw and glass of
water as well as the didjeridu itself. I was lucky because it came fairly quickly. (I don't
remember how quickly but in my teaching experience I find that it takes a beginning
student anywhere from half an hour to half a year!) By the time I received the Fulbright
in 1973 I had been playing for about five or six years. This enabled me to proceed very
quickly once I managed to make contact with aboriginal Australian performers. They
were very intrigued by the fact that I (1) cared about the didjeridu, and (2) already knew a
fair amount about how to play it. I advanced quickly in spite of my all too brief time in
the bush.
How I "relate" to it is mixed. When I teach I used my tribal didjeridus that I
acquired in 1973. When I perform in concerts I generally use sewer pipe (the North
American indigenous model!) didjeridus because they are an abstraction and, for me at
least, that allows me to perform my acculturated playing with less guilt (real or
imagined). It is my way of honoring the aboriginals and respecting their traditions. The
aboriginal that I have worked with more recently, William Barton, seemed to understand

and appreciate my thinking on the matter. I played didjeridu for at least a decade before I
bothered to consider what pitches I was using. The default in western music is pitch, and
so much else seems secondary. In aboriginal Australian music it is timbre that is the
default and pitch is decidedly secondary.
Now that I am sometimes using didjeridu with groups, I travel with pipe that
allows me to have any (western) pitch I want. Of course, any contact westerners have
with aboriginals influences how they think about their own music, and the change is
phenomenal and can be disheartening. At the present time we are deep in the throes of
crossover where every kind of music seems to influence (and often trash) every other
kind of music. In more recent decades I was quite taken by the aboriginal group Yothu
Yindi, where they could do their rock music thing and in the middle of it switch to
traditional dance and music complete with body paint and so on and keep a distinct
difference between styles. Look them up on Google and YouTube - there is quite a
selection of Yothu Yindi material available.
In the attached Erickson "Excerpt" I state that I started playing didjeridu in 1968.
It is more likely that I started a little earlier, in 1967, because I seem to remember already
playing it by the time we were working on General Speech together. A minor point, I
guess, but the Excerpt is part of a published article so eventually I would need to put
some kind of a footnote (like the above) to account for the date change.

MCILWAIN: From the first time I heard about Robert Erickson's General Speech, I have
been very intrigued. What led you and/or Robert Erickson to choose General Douglas
MacArthur as the subject of General Speech? Can you tell me about the process that you
and Erickson went through to provide such detail in the pronunciations? I know you
wrote a little bit about this in your book, but would love any additional info you have. I
find this piece very interesting and unique.

DEMPSTER: Erickson played me some MacArthur recordings and both of us were taken
with the amazing vocal style. He (MacArthur) always conveyed this image of being
about nine feet tall. A tremendous figure, he was revered in some parts of the world (and

reviled in others, of course) but it presented us with a wonderful opportunity to create a
new piece. The attached excerpt (above) will give you some answers as to the process.
Yes, it certainly is a unique piece, the ultimate trombone piece. Can you imagine
it being played on any other instrument? Piano? Harp? Even Tuba? I think not. On the
other hand, most trombone music is piano music masquerading as trombone music. It is
all a matter of approaching the use of the complete acoustic palette of the trombone and
that is what makes General Speech so special. But I am repeating myself w/r/t material
that is in The Modern Trombone...

MCILWAIN: I have read a little bit about your healing practices in one of your more
recent interviews found in an ITA Journal. Can you tell me a little bit more about your
practices with healing (with sound, music, didjeridu, trombone, etc.)?

DEMPSTER: First I have heard of DRT but I guess that is what I do. DRT sounds so
annoyingly academic (I speak as a recovering academic!). My approach to all my
contact/dealings/performances, etc in music is to add a strong playful element in it. My
motto is, "Put the 'play' back into playing music." And although I am plenty serious
about my didjeridu playing as healing I have a humorous element close at hand. I like the
edge of seriousness and humor when one can't tell which is happening. And it fits
because didjeridu and humor are both equally healing. I have a piece or, more accurately,
a structure titled Sound Massage Parlor dating from 1986. The attachment below should
be helpful, especially as the link from my ancient website no longer works.

MCILWAIN: Do the speaking parts in the 3rd movement of Suderburg's Chamber

Music III: Night Set have any special meaning or background? "ka-ta-ka-ta-ti-ka-ta-too-

DEMPSTER: Well, only the last one does, but it is an "in" joke (and a dirty one at that)
just between me and Suderburg. It connects with the piano music that is going on at the
same time. A nice puzzle to keep musicologists busy. Maybe I will tell people sometime
but it is nice just as it is, at least for now.

MCILWAIN: I think you would agree that much of your music is considered avant-
garde. Do you have any memorable performances of any of the premieres of some of
these commissions/collaborations? What reaction have you received from the audience?
Has this reaction changed over the years?

DEMPSTER: Certainly all my theater pieces are considered avant-garde, but I don't think
that would apply any more to, for instance, Imbrie's Three Sketches and Suderburg's
Night Set. Things do change eventually. The early performances of Sequenza V would
occasionally elicit outrage by a few trombonists complaining about the piece being too
hard and why (no pun intended) I commissioned it. My answer always has been, "The
world is big enough; you should commission your own pieces that you would like."
Interestingly, I haven't had to deal much with that question for 40 or more years, and that
serves to demonstrate just how much things have changed.
I am loaded with memorable performances, which begs the question as to how
can they be "memorable". I freely volunteer that some are more memorable than others.
I already mentioned earlier about Night Set performances, especially the mildly "staged"
ones at NCSA. And perhaps you can only imagine performances of General Speech
because theatrical considerations are so out of hand and, yes, I know the "fade away" at
the end references "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." And that belongs to a
speech given to congress near the time of the West Point speech that General Speech
parodies. The reaction is huge every time.
Sequenza V is more difficult to assess, although I generally get good reactions to
it. The difficulty for me is getting the humor to come out, especially in "B" section. But
then, "B" section was not really written for me (although I didn't know that at the time).
It is as though there are two different pieces cobbled together into one. Sometimes I can
really bring humor out - even in "B" section - but it is not that often. I have added
something - relatively recently - that I believe helps prepare for "B" section. And that is
to sit down emphatically on the stool as I play the pedal Bb to create an image of it being
a whoopee-cushion. My only reservation in doing that is that audio by itself (without the
visual), such as on a recording, may not convey that particular bit of humor. On the other

hand, the more I have it seem like a whoopee-cushion the more it seems the contrasting
"B" section fits. It is probably all my imagination...
The most memorable Sequenza V performance likely happened at the BBC where
Berio had organized as many "original" Sequenze performers as he could. Besides
having many premiere players on hand, it was memorable simply because I actually
played it well. I was particularly pleased because Decca was supposed to record all of us
"originals" for a special recording right after this event. Of course, that didn't happen.
There is finally a recording out of me playing it - on the Mode 4 CD collected set
released a few years back. I can date the BBC performance if you need it, but I am
guessing early 1980s.

MCILWAIN: In addition to the innovations you have made through your commissions,
performances, healing practices, and composing, it seems from my research that there is
not a lot of information available on your teaching philosophy, experience, and methods.
With thirty years at University of Washington and professor emeritus status, I know that
teaching has been a huge part of your life. Can you discuss the role teaching and
academia has played in your life? What is your teaching philosophy? What are some
famous "Dempster Methods" that your students talk about years later? How has your
teaching influenced your own performance?

DEMPSTER: What follows is a random selection of thoughts that pop through my head,
a sort of stream of consciousness approach, in no particular order. That said, I will also
include an attachment or two that may be of interest.
a. My motto: Put the play back into playing music (or trombone or any other
b. When a student was not playing mindfully, I often would say, "You are playing
as though you wish you were doing something else, like sailing." Or "You are playing as
though you wish you were sailing." Be focused and attentive to all that is going on.
c. Practice "from" your best, not "to" your best. This is the most efficient way to
develop the necessary and/or desired body memory.

d. One needs to play something correctly at least 70% to 80% of the time in order
for body memory to kick in - kick in your favor, that is. Practicing something trying to
get something correctly, and finally getting it means that one will need to reiterate that
correct version to counteract all those other times and even further to get into the 70+%
range. (And follow this up with next item on "backward practice".)
e. When I suggest that one engage in "backward practice" I am referring to
selecting a small passage (a "cell" let's say) and make it sound the way you want it. Then
begin to build the context by adding one note in front of that cell playing it correctly three
times, and then add another note, and another, and then another, and so on, playing this
ever expanding cell correctly three times each. If there is a hiccup at some point back off
and move one step back (that is, shorten the practice cell by one upfront note.
The situation is this: if there is a mistake happening regularly at a specific point,
and you try to fix it by going over just that point, or cell, it may get better. But as soon as
one puts it in context the mistake often reappears. Doing this "backward practice" builds
the lead up to, or context for, the recalcitrant cell or missed note. it is often quite tedious,
but it works. What one learns from this exercise is that the "mistake" one is trying to fix
at one point is usually caused by some hiccup a few or several notes earlier. The
backwards practice helps locate that hiccup while at the same time reiterating the cell
many times correctly .
f. Reading ahead, actually hearing ahead or both, is critical. Along with that it is
necessary to develop an "eye flow" that will keep that "ahead" action going. A big hurdle
to overcome is allowing for poorly proportioned notation that short-circuits the desirable
even eye flow. For instance, when making parts, if you have a half note of sound be sure
and leave a half note of (visual) space. Learning how to cope with poorly proportioned
notation will help your sight reading immensely.
g. Play "to" the audience; it is even possible to play to an imaginary person (a
good friend, your mother, or someone else) that you would imagine sitting in one of the
audience seats. You will likely be surprised at the differences that take place depending
upon the person placed in the chair.

h. Treat the audience well; indeed, love the audience. An audience wants you to
succeed so join in the fun. I have never played for an audience that wanted me to fail.
An audience is your friend, therefore welcome the audience into your performance.
i. You are your own best teacher. A teacher from whom you take lessons can help
only so far. Once you have learned to play something the way you know it should go it is
up to you to reiterate that something and develop the necessary percentages to train body
j. I (and I nag my students to also do this) place an ever-changing list of up to five
things to concentrate on while practicing. A typical list might be gut (breath and
diaphragm), jaw, reading ahead, posture (Alexander work, for instance). Four or five is
about the limit; more than that is not going to be beneficial. However, it is important to
reevaluate the list regularly so that the five things on the list are truly the priorities. It is
best when it is on the music stand right along with whatever is being practiced. Or on the
stand when improvising.
k. When it comes to performing a recital or solo piece forget you ever had a
lesson. Simply Play (to and for the audience).
l. The two week rule is that, at a recital, you are likely to play approximately how
you played two weeks ago (assuming you continue practicing intelligently past that two
week time). So you need to be absolutely ready and rehearsed two weeks ahead of time.
In a concerto setting all kinds of weirdness sets in so it is all the more important to be
totally ready two weeks ahead. Memorization would need to be in order considerably
earlier - maybe two months.
m. When I detect a student being a bit lazy or in a rut I often would say, "Shall we
generate a crisis?" I would then send them to the recital coordinator and have them set a
date a reasonable length of time out depending upon how close they might be or could be.
Even for the less experienced students, a half recital date a few weeks or months ahead
can generate quite a stir up of practice habits.
n. One of my more fun activities was the use of a big rubber hammer. It still is. I
call it, Dempster's get-a-bigger-hammer hammer. Always a source of amusement,
when students were lazy in their gut I would get the DGABHH out and hold it on their

gut. It got their attention quicker and more appropriately than anything I have ever heard
of let alone used.
o. Comfort Zone: The CZ attempts to diagram what needs to happen for a
trombonist to feel secure, or comfortable, in performance and practice. A diagram of this
is attached immediately below (sorry I can't do it horizontally but it will print out
correctly). It outlines the "Normal Playing Zone" that I now realize would be better
expressed as "Typical Playing Zone - and "Comfort Zone" - that I similarly realize would
be better expressed as "Optimum Playing Zone". The idea is to demonstrate that having
what seems like too much air and/or breathing more often and/or keeping relatively full
of air can work to the performer's advantage. A sidebar to this, however, is the
importance of learning how to play successfully in the less air area (airea?), that is, when
their is not the advantage of having a reserve of air at a given moment.
p. Ever since I was around 40 I became interested in playing trombone and aging.
Immediately below I am attaching a master class flyer/outline/notes (from April 2006)
that deals a little with trombone and aging, and about my trying to reinvent my playing.
Now that I am deep into the "aging" period myself I, understandably, am finding out
much more than I wanted to know. I have occasionally worked with a personal trainer
attempting to find appropriate exercises to assist in playing longevity. Results are
decidedly mixed...
Make of all this answer what you will. No doubt I will think of more items and,
certainly, as my former students comment on my teaching, that should further jog my
thinking and memories.

MCILWAIN: I know you went to school with some powerhouse composers: Oliveros,
Riley, and Rush. Can you talk a little bit about your own compositions?

DEMPSTER: My own compositions are, for the most part, for me to perform, with some
exceptions. It is only recently that I have begun to make scores because up until now I
didn't need them and nobody else cared. Now people are asking me about these scores -
mostly one-pagers - and I am assembling a little booklet of them. These scores tend to be
text rather than classical notation. Sometimes they provide information about "thought

processes" that go into the performance. Other times they suggest things to do, or to
contemplate, as point(s) of departure. Most of my scores are meditative. There is some
mention of score material in the notes for certain of my CDs, such as Underground
Overlays from the Cistern Chapel. These are "led" group improvisations that had its start
with a piece titled "Aix en Providence" (performed first in Aix en Provence) by four
trombonists around the space with me in the middle.
I like to think that my music is restorative, that is, healing and therapeutic. There
are some cultures - I would say most non-western cultures - where playing music
assumes that there is a healing or restorative component. Western music is decidedly
mixed in this regard. In my music I like to think of it being healing and also humorous,
and it is the best when one can't always be sure which is being received. Also, my work
is at its best when it is equally appealing and appalling (appealing to some and appalling
to others); it is most noticeable with the theater pieces. These are special fun and playful
balances but they are not all that easy to do. Well, it is relatively easy for me because
that is what I do. I guess one could say that i live for those balances.

MCILWAIN: From what I understand, Ernst Krenek was one of Robert Erickson's
composition teachers. How did you come to work with Krenek (before or after you met
with Erickson)? How involved were you with his 5 Pieces (specifically the addition of
some of the techniques not included in the Berio, Suderburg, or Erickson-hitting
mouthpiece, removal of valve slide, rolling the bell on piano strings, etc.)?

DEMPSTER: Erickson introduced me to Ernst Krenek during one of the many times I
was at UCSD to play a concert. I sent him a tape of my sounds - these tapes I sent
composers turned out to be prototypes of what eventually became the recorded examples
that accompanies The Modern Trombone. I then visited and played for him a couple of
times at his house in Palm Springs; by then he had agreed to compose a piece for me. I
sent some version of this prototype tape to several of "my" composers including Berio
and Erickson. During the course of the various commissions being realized the demo
sounds became better organized, and in the course of writing The Modern Trombone the
various chapters suggested themselves. Krenek heard me play most if not all of these

sounds live. He became quite intrigued with using many of my sounds mixed with the
piano. This was quite different than Berio or Erickson or even Suderburg where they
used less of the raw materials but developed them in their own special ways during the
course of their pieces.
As a sidebar, Andrew Imbrie, who composed Three Sketches for me, used new
techniques very sparingly and, in fact, he apologized to me for not using more. I
answered him by saying that I wanted him to be himself and to compose what he really
wanted to compose and not feel he had to use new sounds. There is one part in Imbrie's
piece that has always intrigued me, and that is the (mostly whole-step) multiphonics in
middle of bass clef staff. He wanted trills in that register and I suggested certain
multiphonics in place of them. Trills in that register are garbage - granted, that "garbage"
would have a certain appeal - but those multiphonics do virtually the same thing as the
trill does an octave higher. At least it is a good enough illusion to make for a much
cleaner result than an actual trill would do in that lower register. Those multiphonics are
actually great sounds in their own right, but serve the function of the trill quite well.
Imbrie was quite happy with the result.

MCILWAIN: I just listened to Donald Erb's Concerto for the first time. In addition, I
found an article by New World Records online talking about some of Erb's compositions:
"In 1971, Indiana University awarded Erb its Distinguished Alumnus Award; that
same year an important influence on Erb appeared in the form of Stuart Dempster, the
trombonist and composer who had staked out a singular niche for himself as a performer
and improviser, and was investigating new sounds and techniques, especially with non-
Western instruments. Dempster's Fulbright scholarship to Australia put him in contact
with the didjeridu, which he incorporated into his own compositions in the mid-Seventies.
Dempster's musical odyssey from classically trained orchestral musician to freelance
pioneer helped to crystallize Erb's own style. In 1976 Erb worked again with Dempster,
this time on the Trombone Concerto, which received its premiere with Dempster and the
Saint Louis Symphony."

Can you discuss this "musical odyssey" that you underwent and how it might of "helped
to crystallize Erb's own style"? In addition to the Concerto, I understand that you also
commissioned "and then toward the end".

DEMPSTER: I first appeared in Donald Erb's life in 1967 (10 March, to be specific) - not
1971 as the paragraph from the NWR article would have one believe. I, along with Bert
Turetzky on bass, joined him in 1968 to record In No Strange Land for Nonesuch that
became a mild hit upon its release. That was the first professional activity with Don Erb.
In 1969 I had come to know enough of Erb's music that I decided I should commission
him. (I likely sent him a tape of my sounds sometime later in 1967; I might be able to
figure that out by going through the letter file I have.) 1971 was, however, the marker for
when "...and then, toward the end..." was composed that was, by design, a mini-concerto
that would allow him (and me) to approach a solo with accompaniment that would
ultimately lead to the Concerto. By this time I had visited him many times, and I played
for him and he questioned me a lot about trombone possibilities. While it was not as
intense of working together as, say, General Speech was with Erickson, we nevertheless
tried out lots of different possibilities and spent time simply "hanging out" or "hunkering"
as he called it. He was an amazingly committed people-person and was fully present.
Don had a long-standing interest in the didjeridu and, indeed, had one at the house
from fairly early on. Of course, he would ask me to play it whenever I was around, and it
is not surprising that the didjeridu sound found its way into the Concerto. I always
played vigorously with his kids, and he often would invite some of the neighborhood kids
into his house to where we would stage what he called "gross-outs". I made all kinds of
whacky sounds - anything silly that I could think of - and sometimes the then Cleveland
Orchestra tubist Ron Bishop was invited to join in the fray (I had known Ron Bishop
earlier in San Francisco). All this activity fed into Erb's "internal sound files" some of
which found their way into the various pieces that he wrote for trombone. Erb was a
huge fan of Robert Erickson, too, and he always wanted me, whenever I could, to
perform General Speech at the Cleveland Institute - or wherever else he might be

The odyssey that you were really asking about is murkier. I was hanging out with
composers as an undergraduate but never thought I would be a composer myself. Even
later on, when I had begun to do some composing, I still saw myself as more of a
performer. Stewing - yes, I know but it is spelled that "other" way - over the dearth of
quality trombone literature I realized I was in a unique position to do a little something
about it. I had met various composers in the early sixties finally doing a recital in March
1966 that featured commissions by Berio, Erickson (R 5), and Oliveros. I had then
planned to go to Japan on a Fulbright to study the sho. Well, that didn't happen so I
hurriedly organized a tour of the US and Europe that went on for months. Not much
money - in fact, very nearly broke us - and not even all that many gigs, but it changed my
life. I was playing these new pieces and meeting composers and performers right and
left; it was an amazing time (1966-67). I had also benefited from some fantastic
performances in the Bay Area that were mostly at the San Francisco Tape Music Center
(SFTMC) in 1964 - also other years, too. See new book out by the same name (SFTMC)
by David Bernstein; I am interviewed extensively in it.
During 1967-68 I was a Creative Associate under Lukas Foss at the State
University of New York at Buffalo (SUNYAB). And that led to the teaching job at
University of Washington starting in Autumn 1968. The rest you mostly already know,
but the Fulbright I Did get to Australia in 1973 led me in yet other directions. I had
already returned to composition much more directly in 1971-72 when I was a Fellow in
the Center for Advanced Study at University of Illinois (Urbana). The huge piece "Ten
Grand Hosery" that came about during that concert season is well documented in
Appendix II of The Modern Trombone. By this time I was finding more and more ways
to compose for myself as performer but I was still keeping up recitals that included
various commission pieces. As time went on I engaged less and less in commissioning
and more and more in my own compositions while at the same time teaching at the
University and maintaining an extensive touring schedule. Just when "the moment"
happened when I concentrated on new music is elusive. Rather, I more likely simply
"slithered" into a new music concentration, all the while wanting to do so without losing
interest in symphonic playing (and teaching). Now, some 45 years later, I am doing
mostly improvisation and have let symphonic playing take a back seat to it all.

MCILWAIN: Can you expand on the idea of group improvisation in your albums like
Deep Listening and Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel?

DEMPSTER: The two albums you mention are quite different in their improvisational
structure. The Deep Listening album was totally free improv in that we didn't have any
discussion ahead of time as to what we would do. I did, however, want to know what
would be a useful didjeridu length that would work with Pauline Oliveros' just tuned
accordion. We decided on "E" for what is the Lear track, and a"C" for what is the Ione
track. (We actually recorded the Ione track first.) Other than those decisions nothing
else was discussed. We simply listened and played. The Cistern Chapel album is much
different in that it was "'led" or "conducted" my me. I was improvising/composing in real
time, in the sense that improvisation is real-time composition. I had no score for me - but
I provided a "score" for the other performers through my playing (and "conducting"). I
had three basic instructions: a) when I pointed to any one of the performers they were to
play back what they heard me playing and keep that material going until I came around
again to give them something different; 2) if I raised my horn up high, that was to
designate a solo either for me, or if I pointed to someone else while raising the horn, it
would be for that other person, and 3) if I faced down, that would serve as a cutoff either
to a specific person or to several if I faced in succession more than one of them.

MCILWAIN: Did anything thing lead you from being "just another trombone player" to
seeking out collaborations and commissions that lay the groundwork for what is "the
modern trombone"?

DEMPSTER: I covered a lot of this under [one of the previous questions]. It seems
mostly that I would often goof around in rehearsals and make funny noises imitating
sounds I heard on Spike Jones recordings and, later on, Hoffnung Festival recordings.
The three composers mentioned above (Berio, Erickson, Oliveros) were extremely
interested in my funny sounds which spurred me on to more investigations which in turn
piqued their interest even further. By the early to mid-60s I had started playing various

instruments such as garden hoses and conch shells. Erickson prodded me into learning
the didjeridu, and that happened in 1967. He had a decent wooden one but he was
making all kinds of instruments out of many types of materials so I was inspired to make
didjeridus out of sewer pipe. I am not sure when I made the sewer pipe didjeridu that I
used on the "Abbey" recording but I am sure it was pretty early on - probably 1968 or so.
I didn't want to ask Erickson if I could borrow his, especially as he had offered to arrange
for a didjeridu to be sent to me from the same source from where he had acquired his. It
is likely that I was quite impatient about wanting my own instrument and that no-doubt
further inspired my making of a sewer pipe didjeridu.
Earlier than all of the above, however, was my visits to San Francisco State's
Composers Workshop during my undergraduate years (1954-58). I often played works of
the composers that were taking the class, and I am sure this had a significant influence
upon my budding interest in new music. One of the composers, Joseph F. Weber, over at
his house would play many of his recordings of all kinds of new music that I had not
heard before, Berg, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Webern being the most prominent.
Other performers at SF State introduced me to various other recordings that were
particularly interesting to performers, such as Richard Strauss tone poems and also the
developing quantity of available jazz recordings. This was all quite new to me. I
performed whatever there was to perform and even ran the noon concert series for a time
during which I would ask the composition students to perform their works whenever
possible. My first compositions, such as they are, came from 1957 and 1958. After my
time in the service (1958-60) I came back to SF State to complete a composition masters
degree. That, along with all the performing I was doing, helped lead me down the new
music path.

MCILWAIN: I have read that you sought out an acting and movement coach in
preparation for Oliveros "Theater Piece for Trombone." What led you to seek out this
instruction and how did it change your approaches to your music?

DEMPSTER: Actually, I did not seek out an acting and movement coach; I didn't know
enough to realize that I should. It worked out that Elizabeth Harris, who designed and

built the sound sculptures for "In the Garden" - Theater Piece for Trombone and Tape (In
the Garden was the original title but we didn't use it because of a duplication - long story
and not pertinent here). She has a dance background and in the course of working on the
piece she basically designed a sort of choreography for me to execute the piece. I was
extremely interested in the suggestions she made, and I then began to consider all kinds
of aspects of performance in light of that experience.
By the time the Erickson General Speech came along I was ready for more
assistance with the theatrical aspect of the piece, and both Erickson and his wife Lenore
Erik-Alt were incredibly helpful. Erickson helped me with a number of other pieces as
well; he had a great sense of theater and I learned much about performance attitude,
demeanor, dress, and staging no matter what style of music I was doing. All of this made
me more conscious and sensitive to the audience and how they best can be served.
I should mention Chungliang Al Huang, a Tai Ji master (he wrote "Embrace
Tiger, Return to Mountain") whom I met at University of Illinois in 1971-72 when we
were both Fellows in the Center for Advanced Study there. He also was extensively
trained in western dance traditions so he had an incredibly broad-based knowledge of
movement and theater. He had a lot to do with the success of Ten Grand Hosery (see
Appendix II in The Modern Trombone) and taught me all sorts of ways to move and think
about how I would present my work. I am forever indebted to Chungliang and the others
for making me sensitive to these ostensibly non-musical issues.

MCILWAIN: Can you tell me a little bit about your current activities? (writing,
performing, etc.)

DEMPSTER: My current activities include playing in Seattle with groups Artkoamia,

Eye Music, Pran, Sun Ra Tribute Band, and Sunship. In order, they are William O.
Smith with our painter wives; a group specializing in realizing visually interesting scores;
a trombonist playing Dhrupad vocal styles while I play didjeridu in the style of a
tambura; Sun Ra music complete with costumed processionals; and finally a John
Coltrane, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman inspired five piece group (see for all of Sunship's many influences). Also,

there are several individuals in Seattle that I either perform or record with on a more
irregular basis.
A primary focus is performing in Deep Listening Band, with Pauline Oliveros.
and David Gamper (Panaiotis was a founding member until Gamper replaced him). In
2008 we celebrated with the release of a high end double LP: Then and Now Now and
Then: 20 Years of Deep Listening Band. We still tour some, but we are not as busy as in
those earlier years - maybe one or two big events each year. Besides this I continue to do
clinics, master classes, and artist in residencies. Sometimes I am able to perform with my
painter wife such as our performance nearly a year ago at San Francisco's Meridian
Gallery or with Deep Listening Convergence in 2007 in High Falls, New York or
whatever we can manage to do locally (Seattle).
And then there is the writing. I have a few books in various stages of completion.
The half-done ones are a history of Deep Listening Band and Working with Stuart
Dempster (a working title, so to speak) that has chapters on the various composers I
commissioned, and/or performed with, and what the process was like. There are other
writing projects, such as organizing my journal notes from my tours with Merce
Cunningham Dance Company. There is the CD-ROM or DVD version of The Modern
Trombone that I hope can come to fruition someday. And then there is a collection of
scores of my various solo compositions that needs to be finished - and whatever else I am
not remembering.

MCILWAIN: What do you want your legacy to be? Do you want to be remembered for
your performance, commissions, pedagogy, etc.?

DEMPSTER: I have not preoccupied myself thinking about a legacy because a

significant portion of it has already happened, such as the commissioned pieces being
accepted and performed by many trombonists. Some of these pieces, considered so
difficult at the time, have even found their way into undergraduate recitals, a far cry from
a time long ago when a few professional trombonists would all but accost me
complaining about why was I commissioning these difficult pieces, and so on. It has
been gratifying to see the acceptance grab hold over the decades. That, and satisfaction

of having helped several students realize their goals and reach levels that occasionally
were not recognized by them as being within their reach. To sum up my legacy, if that is
what it is, I would propose that I may have (1) proffered a useful definition of the
trombone palette, (2) redirected and deepened the advance of trombone literature, and (3)
assisted both students and professionals in recognizing possibilities and realizing dreams.

MCILWAIN: I have begun to read the book, The San Francisco Tape Music Center:
1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde ed. Bernstein, which includes an interview
with you by Thomas Welsh. Robert Erickson also refers to the San Francisco Tape Music
Center in his Music of Many Means. Erickson says that the premiere of Ricercar a 5,
along with works by Childs, Austin, Cage, Oliveros, and Berio made up your first "all-out
solo recital of new music." Erickson goes on to state that "audience, musicians, and
critics were impressed, and that night Stu successfully launched his campaign to place
the trombone in the main stream of contemporary music." Could you discuss this "first
all-out solo recital of new music"?

DEMPSTER: In the 1960s a recital by a trombonist playing almost anything was still
somewhat rare, even in a school setting. Trombonists belonged in the back of the
orchestra (or band) and that pretty much took care of the thinking at the time. Their were
some exceptions, like in settings such as Eastman, but for the most part a trombone
recital was hard to come by. It seems to me that when I was an undergraduate at San
Francisco State there may have been a total of three trombone recitals - including mine.
Even that one, in 1958, included what was then considered new music: Sonatas by G. F.
McKay, Hindemith, "Choros No. 4" by Villa Lobos plus a brass quartet of my own, and
two other student compositions - genuinely new music. Well, the dates were recent even
if the actual musical concepts were not so new in the manner of how one would think of
the term "new music" today. In 1958 I was already ferreting out original music for
Thinking of my own all out new music recital eight years later seemed less
weird, simply because my head space was thinking about new, interesting music and not
necessarily for trombone except for the fact that the trombone is what I played. I was

getting a taste of a larger concept, however, by the notion of commissioning pieces for
trombone and I am so grateful that Erickson nudged my thinking with regard to asking
other composers to compose pieces for me. There were certainly hints in the past of a
movement toward new trombone pieces with the likes of trombonist David Shuman
setting a then recent standard with his own requests - perhaps even some of them
commissions - for pieces by Milhaud, Bloch and others. And further nudges by the
existing pieces by Barney Childs and Larry Austin only helped the situation. The Cage
piece already was a bit of a classic, as I write about in The Modern Trombone, although I
don't know how many, if any, may have performed Cage's Solo for Sliding Trombone
as a solo before I did.
It was rather an all out effort. The commission pieces took a lot of work to get
in shape, or to get them at all, and the other three I had never performed before either.
There was a lot of grunt work in practicing and, at the performances themselves, there
was a tremendous amount of staging issues to take care of as well as making prop lists
and organizing personnel. I needed stage hands, I was doing all the publicity myself, and
the printing of programs and a brochure was mine to do, too. It was not like now; at the
time one had to have a lot of lead time to get anything printed. Then there was the
mailing to everyone I could think of. The all outness of the concerts themselves
became apparent to anyone who attended simply through the sheer amount of theater,
staging and lighting even if they may have been unaware of all the other preparations
mentioned above.
The concert attracted the critics, but then almost anything going on the San
Francisco Tape Music Center (SFTMC) attracted some kind of attention. I may have
generated a largish audience simply because I was attracting composers, performers,
theater and dance people, and even visual artists. There was a crossover audience coming
to the SFTMC on a regular basis. I had already played in the premiere of Terry Riley's
In C at the Center as well as a follow-up In C concert a few months later. I was also
heavily involved performing in several concerts in 1964 including the infamous
Cage/Tudor Fest. I was beginning to garner quite a following even though I was not
myself composing at the time, and my many friends in the symphony, opera, ballet, jazz

and dance band groups that I played in, and students at two colleges where I was teaching
were very curious as to what I was up to.
By this time I was already making tapes for composers that turned out to be a
precursor for The Modern Trombone, and I began to sense that something larger was
going on over and above this one recital. Because of the success of the recital I was soon
in touch with Bay Area composer Andrew Imbrie and Southern California composer
Ernst Krenek. After that I began to contact several other composers with requests to
think about possible works for trombone. It was a heady time for sure, and I had no idea
of just how far this was going to go. I didn't end up with the quantity of pieces that some
new music performers could boast about but the quality of the pieces I garnered was very
high and sometimes spectacular. This quality was not accidental but rather due to a deep
commitment on the part of both composers and performer and a willingness to work
closely together.

MCILWAIN: Can you describe some of your memorable experiences in San Francisco
Tape Music Center? Did you get a chance to work with Folke Rabe and Jan Bark?

DEMPSTER: So many memorable events for me at the SFTMC, both as audience

member and as performer. 1964 was a banner year as I allude to above. Besides the
amazing Cage/Tudor Fest there were all kinds of other concerts going on as well as visits
by various composers, not least of which was Jan Bark and Folke Rabe. They played for
me the mockup of their Bolos and my jaw dropped. Here were two trombone players
that were turning each other on to many new sounds for trombone at the same time I was
developing my own acoustic repertoire, and all this going on in another country
completely unbeknownst to me - my first experience with the phenomenon of parallel

Events that seem to be the most memorable at the SFTMC and elsewhere seem to
bunch up in 1964 with some spill over into 1965--and, of course, my own recital a year
later. Even earlier, in 1963, there was a city-wide event organized by SFTMC folks

called Cityscape where, among so very much else going on, I was to play trombone in
the Broadway tunnel just off of North Beach. Even now I will occasionally run into
someone who remembers seeing me there. In the writing of the SFTMC book, I was
asked along with many others as to when Cityscape took place. Apparently nobody is
able to remember when it took place, which gives a more nuanced meaning to the oft-
quoted sentence, If you remember the sixties you weren't there.
My favorite memories include all the Cage/Tudor Fest concerts (there were three)
that included several Cage pieces as well as other works by Pauline Oliveros, Alvin
Lucier, and George Brecht. I played in several of the Cage pieces and also Sapporo by
Toshi Ichiyanagi where I played my first, last, and only performance on shakuhachi. In
several concerts over the next few months I played music by Robert Hughes for the dance
Anagnorisis where I played an extended solo on garden hose. Robert Moran organized
various concerts that I played in that featured his music, including an early version of
Bombardments No. 4, as well as works by Cage, including a three hour performance of
Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music at the Sokoji Buddhist Temple on Bush Street.
Included in all the various concerts during 1964-65 was a performance of
Oliveros' Pieces of Eight where we not only played our instruments but also had Big
Ben alarm clocks set underneath our seats. There was a raft of other instruments such
as a large iron cash register and a substantial shipping scale, packing crate, collection
plates, and a very large bust of Beethoven. There were projections and movement
involved - one could say choreographed - and likely other activity that I am not
remembering. This latter reminds me of another Oliveros work (back to the Cage/Tudor
Fest now) Duo for Accordion and Bandoneon with Possible Minah Bird Obbligato.
Performed on a revolving teeter-totter with a large, tall sculpture including a bird cage,
the sound of what I call revolving stereo totally amazed me.
Folke Rabe returned to the SFTMC in 1965 and, among other things, had me join
in an improvised performance under his direction for Anna Halprin's Dance Company.
Not only was our duo music memorable but also the dance. Anna was far ahead of her
time in some of the things she was asking her dancers to do. I was amazed at what I saw
and, frankly, was amazed at our music-making together. Soon after my 1966 recital I
went to Stockholm with Robert Erickson to perform some of my pieces. A couple of

years later (1968) I was back to Scandinavia, this time in Copenhagen, where I met up
with the Kulturquartet - four trombone players including both Bark and Rabe - and we
played the Erickson Ricercar 5 live (I had done it live for the first time at the 1967
Cabrillo Festival).

MCILWAIN: As seen in many performances in the Tape Music Center, lighting,

costumes, and theatrics play huge roles. I know certain pieces that you have
commissioned require specific lighting, costumes or staging considerations (such as
General Speech). How do you think these extramusical effects have enhanced your

DEMPSTER: All the theater work that I have done has been hugely important to me. It
has made me conscious in a very direct way of staging and presentation, creating a
character (for a given piece) and staying in that character, and becoming aware of how
organized I need to be. It also has been part of the background I bring to improvisation
where I often surround the audience or, at least, walk amongst or around the audience. It
has taught me to take advantage of opportunities to move sound in a performance space
in such a way as to encompass the audience and/or create traveling sound that is often
quite mysterious. All this I usually do without electronics, and I am most happy when the
audience isn't sure where I am - perhaps being occupied watching the stage. This allows
me to go deep into the mystery of sound location and, if I am working with, or along side,
a sound system, I can create a confusion as to what is me and what is from other players,
and so on.




James Lebens studied with Stuart Dempster during his doctoral work at the University of
Washington. In 2007, Lebens released his album, Ewazen Lebens Eklund Play Ewazen
through Albany Records. He is joined on the album with the Eric Ewazen on piano and
Niklas Eklund on trumpet. Currently, Lebens is trombone professor and department chair
at the Universit Laval in Quebec, Canada.

Note: Initial contact with James Lebens was via e-mail, followed by an extensive phone
interview. All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

E-mail Transcript
LEBENS: I am trombone professor and department head of Universit Laval's music
faculty, and have pursued with some success a performing and recording career which
has brought me to Europe, Mexico, Asia and Brazil, as well as across the US and Canada.
I studied with Stuart in the late 80's and have had a long time association with him
as my mentor in many aspects of music, trombone performance, repertoire choices,
choices to be made in the business aspect of music, how to approach performance and
I think it would be best to talk to you over the phone, then you could do some
digging and get more of what you need.
Stu has always been a special person for me (I do mean that in the positive sense
!!!) and I carry a lot of his influence around with me. Things I remember that I won't go
into too much detail about are catch phrases that I still use in my own teaching, "Use your
air like a bow...". Some things which really impressed me (our performance of Riley's
"In C" together, and I'm still trying to get that sound out of the trombone I heard him do...
wow!), his audacity... when I was confronted with what seemed to me an insurmountable
problem with a tic in my breathing, he just said, "Well, you're just going to have to decide
that you're not going to play that way anymore ! " Fairly brutal at the moment, but dog
gone it he was right, and I'm still playing today.

DEMPSTER: Nice thoughts, Jim, and you haven't even done the interview. Your little
paragraph brings up a couple of points of interest.
I often say that the trombone is a "double-bowed instrument." One is the air, and
the other is the slide. Jim, you may remember that I would regularly suggest that
trombonists should go to flute clinics to learn new insights about embouchure (and air in
relation to that) and to string clinics to gain insight into options for smooth slide
Your "tic" as you call it, brings to mind the following point: Once a student, or
anyone actually, has personally experienced the desired way of playing or breathing or
whatever it may be, the onus is on the student to "own" that experience, duplicate it, and
build upon it; a teacher cannot be of further assistance in that task except to be annoying.
In your case, Jim, you had experienced the desired form of playing but it tended to be
stuck in about the 30% range - not enough to establish a new body memory. Thus, it
came to where you needed to decide that you're going to play this new way or "that you
are not going play that [other] way anymore!" It worked and you quickly built a much
higher percentage of good playing therefore allowing the stuff you didn't need simply to
melt away. Brutal it may have been, but it is taking ownership of the situation that allows
growth to take place.

Transcript of Phone Interview

MCILWAIN: Can you tell me a little bit about how studying with Stuart Dempster was?
Do you have any Dempsterisms, his quotes that he would use as he taught?

LEBENS: Well, Ill start at the beginning I guess. I first met himI was an artist in
residence at Banff Center for Fine Arts, which is in Alberta. At that time, I was really
interested in getting into the new music repertoire. I was playing Xenakis Keren.
Xenakis actually came to Banff for a week, so I did the North American premiere of that
piece. Ive played it quite a few times, since then and I hope to never play it again.

MCILWAIN: Its kind of a beast of a piece.

LEBENS: Oh, manthe split tones in that are just insane! In fact, I worked on it with
Stuart and he said, Well, Im glad theres you young guys around who can put the
energy into a piece like this, because it is just a bear. If you have ever played
Kerenits amazingly difficult. You could work on it a year and still never get it right.
I had his [Stuarts] The Modern Trombone book and I said, I am really interested
in didjeridu and Im really interested in the new music repertoire (the Berio Sequenza and
all of that). I was all of twenty-six, twenty-seven years old at the time. And the director
of Banff said, Yeah, yeah well get him up. So, he [Dempster] came upmy first
impression, I thought he would be this dignified, snobby guy and he was just the most
unassuming kook that I had ever met. He had this way about himhe really liked to
challenge his students in interesting ways. I remember picking him up at the airport and
he had all sort of funny mannerisms and little jokes. And I thought, My goodness! And
I just got more and more nervous, but as soon as we started talking we just hit it off.
That week he played a recital, I remember he played the Sulek Vox Gabrieli like
Ive never heard it played before. I remember he played the Berio Sequenza V. In all the
years Ive known him that was the only time I heard him play it live. There is now a CD
out, which is a collection of Sequenzas performed by the original artists. [Dempster
correction: whereas I am one of the original artists most are not. It is the four CD
release a few years back by Mode Records that contains all known solo pieces including
all the Sequenze] There are a lot of Sequenzas out there, but nobody plays it like Stu. To
see him do it live is the only one I have ever seen who has actually caught what the piece
is about.
He had a way ofIm not going to say keep you guessing, but sort-of prick
your mind, so that you would be there in front of this great artist and you want him to
tell you how to do it...he would give you just enough information to make you figure it
out yourself. He really liked to put you on the spot. I remember specifically, oh my God,
one of the most nerve-wracking moments, Ive since conquered my nerves-I never get
nervous performing anymore, but [Dempster] had a master class with composers,
performers, and everybody on the Berio Sequenza V. Im sitting there with my score

ready to take notesAnd [Dempster] said, Rather than myself playing, because Im
going to be performing it tomorrow nightId like the trombone resident to come up
here and perform it and demonstrate it. I thought, Holy Crap! Ive never played the
piece in public before and you are having me up here. But if the boss says, do it you
do it. So I went up there and did it.
It was a time that I was learning a lot of insights into the piece. Stuart is the only
one that I know that performs it with the comedy and the pathos that represents the
clown, Grock. [Dempster] walks out there in characterjust that first performance, I
learned so much about stage presence from observing that guy. Ive seen other people do
it and they make it into a farce. He is the only one that I know that captures the honesty
of whats behind the piece. I remember him walking out there totally in character and
with the Glen Miller plunger mute, walking out there in white tie and tales as the piece is
supposed to be performed in. Nobody ever notices in the score that it is supposed to be in
white tie and tales, because trombone players never look at the instructions to anything.
They just go and try to do all of the hard stuff right away. He said that in 1966today if
a performer goes out in white tie and tales, now I have seen Christian Lindberg do this in
his clown outfit and it just doesnt really do it for me. But the white tie and tales,
[Dempster] said that in 1966 it was really a statement. Back in the sixties people were
coming out and performing new music in jeans and t-shirts[Dempster] said that when
he played the Sequenza as Berio wanted it in white tie and tales, everybody was like,
Whoa, whats going on here? It comes out to be beautiful filled with comedy and
pathos at the same time.
When I worked on it with him, the theatrical gestures he had were astounding. I
try to take as much as I can from him. Not try to copy, but I try to capture that. I think
maybe I have succeeded about one percent. I dont want to brag, but I remember I met
Christian Lindberg after he recorded it the first time. He came to me and said, You
worked with Stuart Dempster? Could I go over the Sequenza with you? I mean this is
Christian Lindberg! Other people around the country have called me to consult on the
piece, because I guess they are afraid to call Stu. So I said, Yeah, Chris no imagine
me telling Mr. Lindberg, who is a very nice guy, that yeah, you know you got a few
things wrong. If you read the instructions, you would have gotten it right. [Lindberg]

missed the boat on a lot of things in the first recording. The second recording is
I remember Stu had me stand up in that room in front of those people. I could
barely play the piece, but just doing that to meit made me understand that piece, so
much more quickly than I would have if I would have spent fifty hours in a practice
By the way, when I was at Juilliard (I have a bachelors and masters from
Juilliard with Per [Brevig]) and I wanted to do this piece in 1984. And Per said, Well,
Jim you are going to work on that piece for six months and then you are going to play it.
It will be the hardest thing you have ever done and nobody will even like it, so dont do
it. So, I put it on the back burner, but I said that some day I was going to do this piece.
Little did I know that I would get the opportunity to work on it with Stu.
Performance factors of it: I would say it is definitely a theater piece and you have
to practice every gesture that you are going to do along with the musical notes. The first
section, the way Stuart does it, he is following the arrows in the first line as if he is
looking for birds to shoot. It is so effective, absolutely amazing. Going through the rest
of the piece, I didnt have a clue on how to do it. When I heard Stu play it, I dont think
he had it as perfectly as it was in the score, but it didnt matter. Stu is really, really big on
pacingwell get to into that laterI had no idea how to perform the Berio Sequenza,
because it is unmeasured, just line after line. He said, Imagine there is a cursor moving
across each line at this speed. Each line it says ten seconds, fifteen seconds, and so
forth. But he moved a pencil, as a cursor, across the line and he said, When the pencil
hits that note, that is when you play it. I found that a lot of the pacing that I was doing
on it, some of it I was way too slow and some of it I was way too fast. It made the piece
completely clear to me.
Also, his control of the vowel sounds on the trombone is completely amazing. I
think the work I did with him on the Sequenza and the General Speech (Man, I havent
done General Speech in like twenty yearsI should do it again, but there again I am in
Canada and its kind of hard to do a piece about General MacArthur up here.) I remember
working on those pieces with him, and the Xenakis KerenI thought that those
techniques (like in General Speech) would ruin my technique. Stu said, No, no, no

absolutely not. These new techniques make you more aware of the sound palette
possibilities. I think it is because of that it carried into everything that I did. I am not
locked into one sound, I have a variety of possibilities in everything I do.
When I requested that he come to Banff and he did, he taught me to play
didjeridu. He had this attitude about things: Either you could do it or you cant. There
was no practicing twenty hours to get it right. Ive transferred that into my own teaching.
You can practice it twenty hours wrong and all you are going to do is get really good at
doing it wrong. [Dempster] would say that there is a way to circular breath and this is
how you do it. Techniques on trombone are likehe used this expression: Remember,
the first time you drove a car with a clutch instead of automatic transmission. There was
a time you couldnt do it and suddenly you could do it. To him that was how circular
breathing worked on the trombone [and didjeridu]. That was probably what pissed me
off more than anything else with studying with him. And listening to him over the past
twenty years comment on my playing and my career, he just really questions, Why are
you doing it that way?
The best anecdote I have about that is when I was having problemswhen I was
in Seattle, I was his teaching assistant and I was taking over for him during his sabbatical
year. I started having trouble with the Valsalva maneuver. Do you know what that is?

MCILWAIN: I do. I actually have struggled with some of the same issues with that. Its
a frustrating thing.

LEBENS: Oh, yeah. I know a trombone player whose career in an orchestra ended after
twenty years, because he couldnt do it anymore. He got a medical disability leave,
because he went to Jan Kagarice and they said it was focal dystonia or something. He
just couldnt play anymore.
I started going through that and I tried everything. I was desperate. I was twenty-
eight years old and I thought, My God, my career is over. What am I going to do? I
even went to the drug store and bought the nose plug for swimmers, so that air wouldnt
come out my nose. Nothing was working. I was absolutely desperate. I had a lesson
with Stu and I said, I just cant get over this. Ive tried everything. You got to help

me. He just looked at me and said, Well, you are just going to have to decide that you
are not going to play that way anymore. And he walked out. (laughs) Thats your
answer??? But, its just this kick in the pantsthere have been thousands of people who
have played brass instruments easily since the aboriginals in 10,000 B.C. I said, OK.
Im not going to cause problems for myself anymore. Two days later I had it figured out
and I have not been bothered by it since.

MCILWAIN: Wow, just by mentally trying to forget about it or what exactly?

LEBENS: Yeah, its just that[Dempster] referred to...Dude, you are bringing back to
many memories. I dont know if I am going to be able to sleep tonight. He referred to
problems in producing what you want to produce on the trombone as noise in the
system. He said that if there was noise in the system it was not something that you
could work on for ten years, five hours a day. If you practice with the noise in the
system, the noise in the system was still going to be there. You would just have to
find ways to hide it really well. When he said to me, You are just going to have to
decide not to play that way anymore, I realized that there was something basically
wrong with what I was doing. I had all of this information from these books and teachers
of the past. I was trying to do what they wanted me to do and I said, Well, wait a
minutewhat can I do that is completely different? And so I just approached those
noteseverything in my head was telling me this was the wrong way to do it, but I am
going to give it a try. I dont remember what my preconceptions were at that point; we
are talking like twenty years ago. I just decided that the way I was playing was wrong. I
was practicing at it for four hours a day and it wasnt getting better. So I decided to do
things one hundred percent differently. Suddenly, bang it was gone!

MCILWAIN: What exactly did you do differently?

LEBENS: What did I do differently? Well, on the worst days I was gagging on
everything third line F and below. I think what I tried to doStu, when you get to know
him he has an almost childlike approach to the instrument, very innocent in what he does.

I just thought, Im doing all of these things to make it harder on myselfthinking of
pushing the air from here, thinking of using my tongue speed to coordinate everything,
and I said, No. Im just going to pucker up and blow and see what comes out. And it
did. Somehow I got rid of all of these things I was tryingI think my problem was that I
had fifty things going on in my head at the same time trying to get the note to come out.
And it just built up and I couldnt attack anything. And then when I acted like a little boy
who doesnt know anything and it justlike a free-buzz. Then I put that up to the horn
and in two days it was gone. Stu couldnt believe it either.
Another thing that really impressed me about Stu was that he was really into free-
buzzing. Being a stuck-up twenty-eight year old who had these diplomas from Juilliard
and post-graduate work at Banff, I was always taught that free-buzzing had nothing to do
with the tromboneexcept Per Brevig told me free-buzzing was a very good thing, but
he never insisted on it. I remember one lesson with Stu we were working on the Frank
Martin Ballade and he stood there asking if I had ever thought about free-buzzing this. I
said, No, why would I? [Dempster] stood there and free-buzzed the entire first page up
until it goes up to the high d. I was so bloody impressed. I could not believe it. I said,
Well, its great that you can do that, but why would I want to do that? He said, Well,
you cant do that, maybe you should figure out how to do that and see what happens.
He would never tell you do this because it is going to make this and this and this better.
He would say, Well, you cant do it, might as well figure out how to do it and see what
happens. So Ive spent the last twenty years figuring out how to do that.
A special moment, right now I have a graduate student and he is working on the
Frank Martin Ballade. And I have been working on free-buzzing with him. I did the
same thing with him and he didnt really buy it. So I did the same thing and free-buzzed
the first page up until it goes to the high d. He is from Brazil and he said, Teacher,
thats amazing. I cant do that. I said, Well, do it. He said, What will it do for me?
I said, Youll see. Figure it out for yourself. [Dempster] is just that type of guy. He
doesnt spoon feed you. He just really kind of jabs you, gives you just enough to make
you curious and leaves you wondering.
I remember when I first met him, when he came to Banff and he said that he
would do the Sonic Massage Parlor. I was beginning to think that this guy was a totally

wacked out left-over from the sixties. So I asked him what it was all about. He said,
Youll find out when you get there. I said, Come on. Tell me what its about. Im a
kid from Minnesota and I dont want to get involved in one of these weird psychedelic
things. He replied, Nope. Youll see. Leaving people in the dark, just giving them
enough information and then kind of drawing them in so they want more.then nope,
youll find out. (laugh) OkayIts really a great technique. I dont even know if he
knows that he does it. He really has a talent for letting you think for yourself. Pricking
your mind, so you want to know more. He is really a fascinating guy.
Stus just that kind of funny guy. He cuts the wheat from the chaff and asks
why are you thinking about things so much. This is the way it is and you either do it or
you dont.
One of the big things I remember from him and I use itto let you know how this
guyIve dated a lot of women who are control freaks. And this guy is the total
antithesis of a control freak as they can be. A typical Stu-thing is that when I initially
went down to the University of Washington, it happened when we met at Banff, he said I
need someone to replace him, while he was on his sabbatical year to teach his students. I
said, Great, Ill do it. Then he said, Well, while you are down there you might as well
do a doctorate. I said, What? I dont want to do a doctorate. Im a player. [Dempster
replied, No, no, no, youre going to do it! There was no way out of it, so the two years
I was down there, I did a doctorate and finally got the dissertation finished in 1992. He
didnt tell me you have to do this or its a good idea to do this. If I hadnt done that, I
wouldnt have this unbelievable, fantastic job here at Laval University. I wouldnt have
even been considered for the interview.

MCILWAIN: Yeah, thats the way it is in higher academia right now.

LEBENS: Yeah, so Ive got this job that I can do all the playing I want to and take off all
the time I want, go to Europe to record, go to South America and tour, I can call anyone.
This slightly know-the University will fund me to go down to this and that school and do
some master classes and a concert. I think [Dempster] knew that as a trombone
playerhe saw that I was working on excerpts and trying to get in an orchestraI think

he knew all along that wasnt my road. I was always sort of an intellectual guy. I was
more concerned with the depth of the trombone, than try to play Mahlers Third and
Bolero good enough to get into an audition. I can do those thingsI can play excerpts
pretty well and I teach them.but its just not my thing. Thank God, he came into my
life. Im pretty sure he saw that and he pushed me into a different direction.
Now that Im talking to you, I wish I could go back twenty-five years and do
things a little bit differently. One of the big things I carry away from his teachingone
aspect of it is his humor. Have you been able to talk to Stu at all?

MCILWAIN: No, its just been through emails, but I have noticed his humor in the way
he has corresponded to some his students in emails he has copied me on. But I have not
talked to him on the phone or met him in person as of yet.

LEBENS: Well, once you get enough information gleaned off of his students, you should
stop the e-mail thing and give him a call. Hell talk to you for hours.
Ive already been interested in comedy, if you cant tell that already. (laughs) I
feel that from knowing Stu, I have found a way to use humor as a learning tool. When I
got the job I formed a contemporary music ensemble and things started happening with
recording and all. I would call [Dempster} and say, Jeez, what am I going to do?
(talking about repertoire) After this great concert coming up Hed say, Be careful
what you wish for. Whats the other phrase? Serves you right. (laughs). Im not
ready for this! Serves you right. (laughs) I guess Ill have to stop moaning and get up
and do it.

MCILWAIN: Thats a big interest of mine, starting up a contemporary music group.

What advice did he have for you with that?

LEBENS: Well, he was pretty harsh. (laughs) When I interviewed for the job, I told
[Dempster], Ive been doing contemporary music when I was with you in Seattle. Over
the years I have been doing a fair amount of contemporary music, but I told them at the
interview that I was planning on founding a contemporary music workshop of

improvisation, which I did with him for a year. The first thing he said was, Well, its
very interesting that you want to do that, but is there anybody else on the faculty that can
do that? I dont really think you are qualified to do that job. I said, Oh, really!?! So,
what did that do to me? It made me call him back three or four times and say, Look, Im
desperate here, what can I do? Talked about activities, he got me to buy some of the
writings of Pauline Oliveros, her ideas on improvisation. I read Ideas for Improvisation.
This seemed so much from the sixties, so strange. I talked to him about it: Man, I cant
do this. His reply: Serves you right. (laughs) That was his line. So I said, By God,
Im going to do it. Now the Contemporary Music Workshop is one of the more popular
things with students. At first, I thought it was going to be a lot of work. I remember
from talking to Stu, and trying to remember what I did in his improv group at the
University. The less you do, the better things are, because the kids want to be there and
do contemporary improvisation. He said, Sometimes, I would take out a five dollar bill.
(and say) This is your score. Play it. The kids would improvise their impressions of the
five dollar bill. I have found that the less I do, the more they will give. Ill say, Next
week, each one of you are going to write a poem. We are going to improvise to each one
of your poems. It cant be more than ten lines. That was the type of thing that Stu would
do and just come in and say, Whos got this, whos got that? OK, do it. He would
watch everything around and comment on it, but very, very little. He would let everyone
find there own way.
I have very fond memories, when I did the thing with poetrythere was this
English guy came in with this poem that could have been from a cigarette, smoke-filled
caf in the late fiftiessounded exactly like Ginsberg: Red wine spilled on the table/
drips on her dress/ No stains its black/ I love you (laughs) And that was his poem, it
was so ridiculously Ginsberg. [Dempster] had a way to say this is what we are going to
do. He would not dogmatically speak on with these long discourses on how to do it. He
would just have you figure it out. Amazing guy.
Just to see him perform you know the innocence and the energyjust the
child-like humor and total lack of pretension. One of the things I most despise in life is
pretension. He is totally devoid of it. His music is total honesty.

As far as his teachingone of his big things was: Use your air as bow. That
was what I talked to you in the e-mail about. [Dempster] wrote me back and commented
on that. He said, The trombone is actually a double-bowed instrument. The slide is one
of the bows, so that has to be moved gracefully and the air is the other bow. That was
one of the other things that got me over the Valsava as well. I just would tell myself that
my air is not working like a bow. Its getting stuck. I still use that principle in my
teaching. If I see someone that has some of these preconceptions: I have to attack like
this, I have to blow like this I got this student from China and he is just a collector of
information. My teacher in China studied at Juilliard and said my attacks are too hard
and I have to be harder and this other teacher said I said, No. Just listen to what the
music asks for and use your air like a bow. I dont give him any more information than
Its true, if the bow is sitting on the string and its stuck or if it jerks at the
beginningI think thats just as good or an even better image than Arnold Jacobs has in
[Song and Wind]. I almost wish that Stu would write a book about it, but I dont think he
could. All he would say is, This is the title of the book: Use Your Air Like a Bow.
Chapter One: Use your air like a bow. And that would be it. Thats all he gave me, but
its sheer genius distilled down into one thing. I thank him for that. I quote him in all of
my teaching and with every student from the most elementary to the doctoral students.
Another thing on humorhe is one of the funniest men I know. I hope you get a
chance to talk
to him.

MCILWAIN: I do too.

LEBENS: Im sure he would like to meet someone like you. Just little
things[Dempster] introduced me to Spike Jones. I had never heard Spike Jones before.
Do you know that song, the Der Fuehrers Face?

MCILWAIN: I do not, no.

LEBENS: Its called Der Fuehrers Face. You got to look that up on YouTube. I
think it has Tommy Pederson playing trombone. It has the golden tones. Virtuoso
golden tones. I would say, I cant do that. [Dempster] would say, Yeah you can. You
do it like this Id say, Why would I want to play like that? And hed say, Itll
make you a better trombone player if you can do that. I said, Youre crazy. But he
was right!
His sense of humor was just, wellA lot of classical musicians go into a concert
and it is like that Monty Python routine where the guy goes up and does the Bob Dylan
impression and before he starts to sing he says, Ladies and gentlemen, I have suffered
for my music. Now its your turn. Thats what a lot of classical music has been a lot of
the time and it shouldnt be. [Dempster] taught me that you can have humor in a lot of
things. You can have it as a teaching tool, use it in concerts to put the audience at ease
and bring them in. I talk a lot in my concerts when I do solo recitals even if I dont play
well. I kind of have the audience eating out of my hands.
I remember he would distinguish between mental errors and physical errors. If it
was a mental error, he wouldnt make a big thing about it. He had this gesture he would
use where he would hold out his hand and make a bird sound. He would put out his hand
like he had bird seed in it, and then imitate a bird. I dont know the significance of that
gesture and I do it to my students, when they make a mental error. They have no idea
where I am coming from on it, but they just say, Oh, OK. Professor Lebens says thats a
mental error and Im not going to let it happen again or hes going to do that stupid bird
gesture again. It sort of takes care of it.
He also had a joke Ive repeated so many timesI asked [Dempster] about
tonguing and articulation and he says, Theres three types of tonguing: flubber, duggle,
and trickle tonguing. Flubber, flubber, flubber, duggle, duggle, duggle, duggle, trickle,
trickle, trickle So, now when I am working in a group and there is a tricky articulation
passage I say, How are you tonguing that? Are you using duggle, flubber, or trickle
tonguing? (laughs) He was just a nut.
In later years, memories I have of himwhen I was preparing for this CD with
Ewazen. Im just sort of an ordinary trombone player from Minnesota. And Eric and I
sort of clicked when we played together. Eric said, I want us to record a CD for Albany

Records. When I was working on that CD, I was pretty desperate, since I went to
New York a month before we recorded. I rehearsed with Eric for five days, two to three
hours a day a month before the recording to learn all of the stuff. We played a recital for
Eric and his friends in some studio at Juilliard. The day I was leaving to get on a plane
back to Quebec I said, So, Eric, what are you going to be doing between now and the
recording in July? Eric replied, Oh, Ill be going to Sweden to play in a trombone
festival. Ill be accompanying Christian Lindberg and Charlie Vernon and its going to
be great. I think, God, holy crap..! This guy is going to be playing with Lindberg and
Charlie Vernon then coming up to record with me? I called Stu up and said, Buy me a
gun, so I can eat it. You cant get [a gun] up here in Canada. Pretty intimidating. Stu
said, Calm down. How are you working on this stuff? I told him that I was just
blasting through it and trying to get it as right as possible. He said you got to do what we
used to do in Seattleworking with a blocked piano. You block a piano and play notes
to get them to resonate. I started holding down the chord notes of whatever phrase I was
doing and tried to get each note to resonate as solidly as possible. Just because of that,
[Dempster] saved my life on that CD. (laughs) Just put the pedal down and practice your
B flat for ten minutes. It will make your sound so much more centered. Do really slow
glissandi into each noteStu would block the piano and play five or six notes and the
piano would ring because he was so centered and well in tune. So I started doing that and
I still do it now. One of the comments about that CD was not only that it was pretty
musical, a critic said intonation was astounding. As we all know the trombone is a
manually-operated pitch approximator. [Dempster] really saved my life.
When I made the CD I thought, Great, now I have done something to really
please Stu. Because he would never come out and say, That was fantastic or you are
great like Eric Ewazen does all of the time. Ive known [Dempster] for twenty-five
years and I still dont know if he feels Im a good trombone player. I really dont. Its
kind of funny.
When I went of to do that recording [Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
with Niklas Eklund, trumpet recording Ewazens Double Concerto], the sounds of those
Eastern European strings blew away anything I had ever heard in Canada.before I went
to that recording I like to think I had this level-headed sense of nice stage presence. I get

my act together, go give recitals and do a good job. I told Stu, This is a bit above my
head, can you help me on this? The Double Concerto is on the CD that is out now [with
piano accompaniment]. [Dempster] said to give him a week. A week later, I called him.
He had taken the CD that was already out. I have it somewhere, because we had a three
hour conversation. He had picked out two-second snips from the CD and he would say,
Do you hear the sound you got on that note? Thats the sound you should have. That
note really zinged. Now if you can transfer the sound from that note to other registers
What? Does this guy have a lot of time on his hands? Whats going on? To pick out
from six minutes and fifty-three seconds to six minutes and fifty-five seconds, listen to
that note. Jeez. Are you kidding me? But he was right on the money. I tried to take that
soundHis big complaint about me, when he first knew me was that my sound was
really tubby or thuddy and a bit too dark. He really wanted to enrich the harmonic
spectrum of my sound. It finally sank in after twenty years. If I hadnt been in touch
with him, it wouldnt have. Im grateful.
I think thats about all I got. (laugh) .Oh well, there is another thing that Im
pretty privileged orIm going to try to make this sound as unpretentious and un-
egotistical as possible, butbecause of the work we did on Sequenza, Stu gave me a
book called The Life of Grock in French.

MCILWAIN: Ive run across that here at the library at FSU.

LEBENS: The version he had was in French. When I opened the book, the blank page
right before the index and chapters and whatever, had a caricature of the clown, Grock. It
was not something printed. It was an actual drawing by Grock. I tore that page from the
book and had it framed. Its in my living room and Im looking at it right now. Its just a
caricature of Grock and it says: Souvenir of Grock. [Dempster] never said anything
about it. I asked him, You must be so sick of teaching the Berio Sequenza with all of
your students wanting to learn it. He replied, Nope, nobody ever asks about it.

MCILWAIN: Youre kidding?

LEBENS: No. I was just astounded. All I wanted to do was learn that piece and we
spent a lot of time on it. Since then Ive got it memorized and I could play it anytime you
wanted. When I left Seattle or when I did the dissertation defense, he gave me that book.
It was like he was saying, Someone out there has got to keep the spirit of the Berio
Sequenza alive Again, trying to make this sound with as little pretension as I canit
was like [Dempster] was confiding this piece to [me]. I want to keep the memory of this
piece and its almost like he is wanting to keep [Grocks] memory alive too. Pretty
amazing thing
He plays a very interesting trombone, the Conn 88-H with two valves like a bass
trombone. I remember seeing him in concerts and people would ask him, Why are you
playing a bass trombone? His response was, No, its a tenor with two valves. He
used a very large mouthpiece, a Bach 3. At the time I wasnt really into mouthpiecesI
asked Stu why he used a 3. He replied, Well, I was in the [Cabrillo Festival Orchestra]
and we were doing Brahms Second. In the middle of the concert, I looked at the second
trombone player and asked what mouthpiece he was using. He said it was a Bach 3. And
the second trombone asked me what I was using. They switched mouthpieces in the
middle of the concert and he has been using that mouthpiece ever since. (laughs) Thats
just the type of guy he is. Oh, Ill try that! Im still in that mindset thatpeople have
been playing brass instruments since before I was bornand all of this backbore is one,
one thousandths of millimeter different, this rim is whatever.. Whats the big deal?
Bass trombone friend of my in the Hong Kong Phil is from Kentucky and he says, Jim,
whats the big deal here? Were making our living blowing into a big brass tube. Hes
right about that. I believe Schilke said, Its not the horn youre playing, its the man
behind the gun. Stu was just like that.




Composer Pauline Oliveros is not only a former classmate of Stuart Dempsters at San
Francisco State College, but also a long-time collaborator and friend. A founding
member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, Oliveros also founded the Deep
Listening Band with Dempster. In 2005, Dempster and Oliveros celebrated fifty years of

Note: This transcript is taken from a phone interview with composer, Pauline Oliveros.
All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

MCILWAIN: I understand that you and Stu Dempster met while in school in San
Francisco and eventually collaborated frequently during the 1960s with the San
Francisco Tape Music Center. Now I know that both of you participate a lot with these
Deep Listening projects. I was wondering if you could discuss your work with Stu
Dempster and the creative and collaborative relationship you share?

OLIVEROS: Oh, well (laugh). Lets see where to start? Well, I mean its a very, very
long story, so to speak. We did start as being members of the San Francisco State
College Band and Orchestra. Actually, it was the orchestra that we played in. Stuart was
always sort-of supportive in hanging around the composers workshop at San Francisco
State. He and Terry Riley and Loren Rush and myself, we had a camaraderie around
composition at that time. Stuart went to the Army and it wasnt until later that we met up
again. That was around our association with Robert Erickson. Robert Erickson was my
composition teacher and mentor. And Erickson worked a lot with Stuart, making pieces
for Stuart to play and also learning about trombone. Stuart would come down to the
University of California, where I was teaching and Bob was teaching. We would meet up
there, time to time. I sort-of skipped the time in San Francisco, though, when I made a
piece for him, a theater piece for trombone players. That was a piece that the tape part
was made from sounds that Stuart had contributed. He made the sounds and then I put
the tape together with the sounds. It was like an arrangement, in a way. He played live
with that. I dont know if you have seen the video of it or not?

MCILWAIN: I have not, no maam. Ive read it in one of his books. He has actually
talked with me some about the past few months, but I have not tracked down the video
yet, no maam.

OLIVEROS: Well, there is a video of that piece that he made. So, that was when he was
putting together a program that he took on tour around the world. Then, lets see, after I
moved to the East Coast, eventually, he came to the East Coast and played in a band that
I put together. At the time, I cant rememberwe played for Deborah Hay and her dance.
We played together for her. That was sort-of the beginning of our work that has
continued to this day. There were times where I would be on the West Coast or he would
be on the East Coast and we would be playing together for something. But the central
point, I think, was when we went to the Cistern and made the Deep Listening recording.

MCILWAIN: I actually listened to that for the first time a few months ago. It was a very
neat thing. I mean it was very, very cool. I participated in my first group improvisation
a few months ago. It was something that was new to me. I would love to do more of it

OLIVEROS: Good. That is a good thing to do.

MCILWAIN: Yes maam. What would you say is deep listening and the Deep Listening

OLIVEROS: Well, you cant be exact about it (laugh). But I can give you a brief
definition of deep listening. Its experiencing heightened awareness of sound, silence,
and sounding. The key word is experiencing it. It is a practice that has grown over
many, many years now of giving full attention, continuously to listening. So down in the
Cistern was where deep listening was born so-to-speak, the concept. We were playing in
an environment that had a forty-five second reverberation time, which means that when
you played a sound it was there for forty-five seconds. This kind of environment is very
challenging. If you make a mistake it would be there for forty-five seconds. So you

dont make mistakes. That really hones your attention. So you are playing, listening to
yourself and others. And you are also listening to the space itself. This kind of
experience heightens your awareness. So when we discovered we had enough material
for a CD, I started writing the liner notes to the CD and called the style we were playing
in deep listening. So from there that stuck and I realized it was a very good description
for the way I was working. So then we called it the Deep Listening Band and that has
stuck of course. And now there are Deep Listening retreats, Deep Listening workshops,
and now we have the Deep Listening Institute.

MCILWAIN: I have actually went to your website and looked around quite a bit. I am
very new to all of this (laugh) the deep listening area, but trying to soak up as much as I
can as I go. Can you tell me a little bit about the piece that you collaborated with Stuart
Dempster on, the Theater Piece?

OLIVEROS: We got together and he made a lot of sounds for me. I recorded his sounds
and put together the piece. So it was as simple as that.

MCILWAIN: I have learned that one of the big collaborators that Stu Dempster had
was Robert Erickson. I know that he was one of your teachers. Could you tell me about
your experiences with Robert Erickson, so I can get a different perspective on him?

OLIVEROS: Well, when I went to San Francisco in 1952 I was looking for a
composition mentor. It wasnt until 1954 that I met Bob. My experience with him...the
first lesson I had with him I was absolutely delighted. I can remember the feeling, it was
fantastic. I had finally found a person who could give me guidance, but who wouldnt
take over my music. He was really an excellent teacher. He inspired all of his students.
He really knew a lot about music; so that he could teach you in such a way that he could
bring things to your attention that were relevant to you. This is what, I think, was a very
big strength of his teachingand also because he was very passionate about his subjects
and what he was doing. The relationship was very strong, very good.

MCILWAIN: Could you tell me a little bit about your work with the San Francisco Tape
Music Center? There is actually a book that was published a couple of years ago with
some interviews with various people, including yourself and Stuart Dempster, edited by
Bernstein, I believe. I read some of that and was wondering if you could tell me a little
bit about your experience in the sixties with that?

OLIVEROS: That was a great time, where we all had a really good time. It was really
about creating a new art form, which was multimedia; you know electronic music and
projected imagery. We were gathered around together in a musical endeavor to work
with electronic music, because at that time there were no places you could work on
thatso we had to create that space and that is what we did with my colleagues: Ramon
Sender, Morton Subotnick, and myself, Anthony Martin, Bill Maginnis. So we had a
space where we could work with a studio that was jerry-rigged, put together. We made a
lot of music there. We also had space in the hall to kind of a hallit had been an old
labor hallwhere we could put on concerts. We had a way of diffusing our music. We
gathered a subscription audience, put on concerts twice a month, and in a couple of years
it built quite a followingand also got critical reviews from the newspapers, which was
very important at the time. So, it was basically a lot of interaction amongst people who
were interested in developing the medium. Also, we had visitors from different countries
that came to the Tape Music Center, because they didnt have access themselves. So, it
was a very rich environmenta lot of fun.

MCILWAIN: Sure, yes maam. Getting back to Stu Dempster, a little bit. What type of
collaborations are you guys currently doing, if any?

OLIVEROS: Well, I just had a very big concert in New York at Columbia University. I
was the recipient of the William Schumann award. You might be able to go online and
look that up, read about it. I had a three-hour concert, a tribute concert. The Deep
Listening Band performed and we did a piece that we played in Seattle last year. The
piece is called DroniPhonia. It is for six iPhones and Deep Listening Band or multi-
instrumentalists. So we are still developing pieces with the Deep Listening Band. Stuart

and I keep playing together. We have also done telematic performances with Stuart in
Seattle and me in Evanston, Illinois and David Gamper. We did a video like that and that
was a few years back. Stuart and I celebrated fifty years of collaboration together. We
called it the Sedimental Journey. He was in Seattle and I was in Troy at RPI. We played
together with our images showing on screen at Mills College where there was a very
large audience for this performance. So we had very small audiences at our respective
venues, but very large audience at our virtual venue.

MCILWAIN: It is pretty amazing what technology allows these days.

OLIVEROS: (laugh) It keeps goingWe have done a number of telematic performances

together, as well as performances in physical reality.

MCILWAIN: Can you tell me a little bit about the various sounds Stuart Dempster
brings to the table, from the sounds he makes on the trombone to the didjeridu, garden
hoses, conch shells, etc. as far as from a composers perspective? What type of
advantages does that have for you?

OLIVEROS: With as many years as we have with performing together and doing work
together what can I say? Stuart is very reliable. We know what each other can do, and
yet we keep doing things that are different even though some of the sound vocabulary is
very familiar. That is a very interesting phenomenon. It is musical inventiveness that
pours out. Its very wonderful to be able to play together after so many years. And each
time the experience has a different flavor, because it is a different time. Even though
there is great familiarity, there is great inventiveness.

MCILWAIN: When you first met Stuart Dempster back in collegehe had talked a little
bit about his first meeting with you playing French horn and he was playing trombone in
the orchestra

OLIVEROS: He loves that story.

MCILWAIN: I was wondering if I could get your side of the story?

OLIVEROS: (laugh) Stuart has always been a great humorist. He is full of really good
humor. As a young man he was very, very energetic and very excitable. (laugh) He was
all over you, so-to-speak.

MCILWAIN: As a composer of your stature, would you have ever thought that you
would have collaborated this much with some trombone player?

OLIVEROS: (laugh) Well, as a matter of fact, no! (laugh) As it turns out, I know quite
a few trombone players and the instrument is amazing. It is an amazing instrument. You
can play it microtonally and you can get all sorts of sounds out of it. Every trombone
player that I know is very unique in their approach to the instrument. It shows the great
versatility that there is. Stuart has developed that to a great degree. Stuart has one of the
most beautiful tones that I have every heard on an instrument. He is a real master of the

MCILWAIN: I definitely agree with that. I know a lot of your composition has been
with Deep Listening Band and other live, group improvisationshave you done much
work on other pieces solely for trombone?

OLIVEROS: Well, I think that the pieces I did for Stuartwas that once. I dont think I
have done any specific trombone pieces. My work became very conceptual. I wrote so
that different instruments could play.

MCILWAIN: It has been amazing learning the different contexts early on with you,
Stuart Dempster, Loren Rush, Terry Riley all at the same placeI meanwho would of
thought the people that would emerge from that school? At any point did you see
something magical happening back then with the various people there?

OLIVEROS: It has always felt very, very intense and interesting. I had no idea that it
would go where its gone. I look back on those times with great pleasure and feeling
with what we were able to accomplish together and also the camaraderie and fun.



Scott Mousseau, a former student of Stuart Dempster, provided these notes about a
master class he attended upon request.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

These notes are from a period of July 10, 1988 to June 25, 1989. While I was in the Air
Force, I had a chance to study with several great teachers. The lessons with Stu where
some of the most memorable.
I. Tone Aids
a. Practice Mute (I use a Dennis Wick mute):
i. When you blow air feel your gut move up.
ii. Try to get biting sound on every note.
iii. Helps develop an evenness of sound.
iv. Practice scales and arpeggios.
v. Take it to the limit then work on backing off.
b. Jaw Position
i. Lower Register:
1. Shift for lower register.
2. Keep teeth apart, but do not let lips separate too much.
c. Buzzing
i. When buzzing always keep the air supported ("lift and push" the
ii. Exercise #1: Lifting the Air:
1. Keep your back straight
2. Balance Buzz
3. Ascending lift up
4. Descending lift down
II. Physical Characteristics
a. Trombone and Body (Posture)
i. Do not let the instrument rest on your neck.

ii. You must control the instrument and not let instrument dictate your
iii. Your head position should always leave the wind passage open.
iv. Posture is an activity not a position. It is constantly in motion.
v. Keep your shoulders straight across.
b. Trombone and the Mind (Psychology)
i. Play through all music in your mind. Really hear at least three bars
in advance in your head.
ii. To play consistently you must practice consistently.
iii. Try to get the percentage of correct playing up.
III. Air
a. General Comments
i. Generally use most of your air so when you breathe again the air
will leap into your lungs.
b. Comfort Zone
i. Always try to work in the "comfort zone"" of air.
ii. Using too much air is better than too little.
iii. You will enter the "comfort zone"" sooner with too much air than
with too little air.



Monique Buzzart studied with Stuart Dempster from 1977 to 1982. An avid supporter of
contemporary music, Buzzart has composed, commissioned, and premiered a variety of
works for trombone. She also is certified to teach the meditative improvisation practices
of Deep Listening.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

I studied with Stuart Dempster as an undergraduate at the University of

Washington in Seattle, WA from 1977-82. I chose to attend UW specifically in order to
study with Stuart since I wanted to be a new-music trombonist (although I had no idea of
what that actually meant). Almost all of the repertoire I was interested in had either been
commissioned by him, or written for him. His sound (from recordings I'd heard of the
Erickson Ricercare 5, the Erb In No Strange Land, and the American Sampler album
was released) was utterly beautiful, and his playing was extraordinarily musical. In an-
ongoing correspondence and also when I came up to Seattle from California to meet him
the previous spring, his gentleness (and humor) had been quite evident. He was kind.
Even though I was uncertain about much in my life back then (and still am now), I felt
deep within myself that he was the right person for me to be working with.
As I recall, at that time the majority of his studio were not performance majors,
most were undergraduates, and relatively few appeared to be bitten by the new music
bug. While I was not the most dedicated and diligent of students in terms of practicing
(and was very young, starting college just a few days after I turned 17) I was eager, and
open, and curious, and he shared with me his knowledge of the "contemporary"
techniques I craved so much to learn. Far beyond the teaching of these techniques,
though, was his modeling for me (by him simply being himself) of what being a musician
could mean, both for one's own self and for the world. I experienced how a performer's
integrity and intent could radiate outwards from the stage and how sound - physical,
palatable vibrations - could be healing energy. Most of all, my time in Seattle with Stuart
provided me with a kind of inner foundation that helped me become a more whole
person. In turn, that eventually allowed me to develop more fully as a musician and
trombonist, to begin to realize my creative potential as a composer. Of course, at the

time I didn't have much of an idea that this was what was happening (!), although I was
fairly sure that in many (most?) ways that for me the trombone was far more of a means
to someplace, rather than an end unto itself. It was only as I grew older that I was able to
realize the extent of what had been transmitted in those years, of just how much I had
absorbed and learned from Stuart, of how deeply supportive and nurturing I found his
presence. I'm reminded of this portion of Chapter 2 of the Tao Te Ching (in the
Mitchell translation): Therefore the Master/ acts without doing anything/ and teaches
without saying anything.



Dan Wolch was a student of Stuart Dempsters from 1987 to 1991.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

The following are some reflections on Stuart Dempster. I was officially a student
from my senior year of high school, 1987 until I graduated in 1991. However you never
really stop learning from someone of his caliber, so I still consider myself his student
today. I will always be grateful for his encouragement and mentorship through the years,
and most of all his wonderful sense of humor. I cherish my memories of studying with
Stuart, learning about music and the trombone and having fun doing it.
The thing I remember most about lessons with Stuart is that we were always
laughing. Stu always tried to make things fun, he had many witty and whimsical
remarks. His personal character is very warm and nurturing with a dash of humor thrown
in. He was always trying to draw more out of you, and would give you his honest
opinion, but he would never make a student feel ridiculed. Stuarts focus is a singing,
musical style of playing and a relaxed (my term for physically efficient) technique,
whatever you were working on. He allowed his students to structure their own program,
and we could decide what literature we wanted to work on. He focused his efforts on
drawing your attention to unnecessary tension or inefficient physical habits- or
autopilot playing, which is always unmusical, boring for the listener, and typically
tense as well.
I remember for a while we had the penalty flag a yellow cloth just like a
football penalty flag that Stuart would throw when someone was playing unmusically or
with some bad habit. Stuart do you remember wearing a referee shirt to lessons?
When Stuart was able to help a student undo a bad habit, unexpected things would
happen, often with humorous results. An accented note would come out much louder
than expected, or the player would overshoot a high note and play a note a step or two
higher. Stuarts tips helped you unlock capacity, artistic and physical that wasnt able to
utilized a minute or two prior. The side effect of that unlocking often resulted in a
temporary loss of accuracy as you could now achieve the same effect, but with less effort
than you were used to applying.

It sounds as if youd rather be sailing
One time I remember I was playing through a solo, and Stuart remarked, It
sounds as if youd rather be sailing. Play again, this time, as though youd rather not be
sailing. I played again, and the result was much better, a much more interesting
performance. We both observed more resonance in my sound and better intonation.
When you focus on playing musically, your technique also benefits.

Avoid autopilot
I remember Stuart admonished us to avoid playing warm-ups on autopilot. Auto
pilot playing is when your mind is not really on what you are doing. Often you are not
really listening. This is where bad habits can be reinforced and habitual tension can be
introduced, because the player is just going through the motions. To avoid the problem,
add variety and interest to your warm-up routine but most of all, sing through the horn
no matter what you are playing.

If you are playing a piece you dont like, pretend otherwise

A variation on the theme dont play as though youd rather be sailing. If you
are playing a piece that you dont particularly like, pretend that you actually really do like
it, and more importantly play it that way, regardless of your personal feelings. Its a kind
of mind trick that really works. Stuart pointed out that if you are successful, you might
even change your own opinion. However, you have the option of still not liking the
piece, just dont ever play it that way.

Commit to the music-and to making your entrance

I remember some lessons Stuart talking about committing which is about
preparing yourself in the moments before you begin playing. Be musically committed to
your entrance rhythmically and with your breath. Another variation is to relax and trust
yourself to make the entrance. Trust that the note will sound. (Tensing wont make it
happen.) It helps avoid a false start - starting to play before you are truly ready. Think
in rhythm, breath in rhythm and make your entrance in committed (not hesitating)

fashion. Another tip, follow through with your entrance (the air needs to keep going).
Think of a golfer and the golf swing when you look at the best golfers - their swing
follows through. A golf club that is swung correctly makes an arc. The club doesnt
stop once it hits the ball, it keeps going and completes the arc. Like the golf swing, your
air needs to follow through for the entire passage. Another way to say it, dont let up on
your air.

Alexander Technique
I think that Stuart will agree with me that he was strongly influenced by
Alexander technique and a lot his advice about the physical challenges of playing the
trombone come from that perspective. Ill recount some things that benefitted me.
Stuart emphasized a relaxed slide arm relaxed elbow and wrist. Avoid the
tendency to grip hard and slam the slide into the correct position. Keep the arm relaxed.
By maintaining arm flexibility, the player can actually play complex passages more
smoothly and musically-even though it might feel and even look as though the arm is
moving slower, its actually moving just as quickly, but more efficiently. Also use
alternate positions when and if they make passages smoother.
Dont ever work hard to play a difficult passage, but rather relax and loosen.
The working hard mentality leads to tension (tense arm, tense neck, and tense shoulder).
Strive to make playing trombone seem effortless.
Relaxed deep breath- I spent many hours that first year with Stuart practicing
slow deep breaths. Mentally I focused on the word loose as it helped me loosen
tension in my respiratory system. The relaxed and deep breath helps keep the throat
open. I focused on the syllable Oh the O vowel opens your throat.
I remember Stuart having me put my hand on the side of his lower back so I could
feel how he filled up the full length of his lungs. When full, the lungs extend far down
the lower back. You really want to fill them fully. (Ben - ask Stuart about some of the
exercises he uses to help students open up their breathing)

Musical Approach
Always tailor your playing to the style of the music you are playing. Dont be
afraid to take risks, to sound brilliant. Stuart encouraged us to experiment with different
equipment music has many different styles, so we shouldnt take a one size fits all
approach with our horns. It doesnt make sense to use a large bore trombone for all
Solos by Arthur Pryor I think Stuart really liked these solos because the
approach is playful and unpresumptuous. He told me once, theres a lot of music that
presumes to be important. Pryors solos are ear candy (my term) and dont presume to be
anything else. So you can really have fun with them.
In the French Conservatoire pieces go for a French sound with vibrato and lots
of rubato. To make rubato effective, you even it out so that over the course of a passage
you come out about even. In other words, steal time (slightly speeding up) at the front of
a passage, then add it back at the end of the phrase. Or add the time in the beginning and
make up the time on the back end.
Hindemith Sonata- push a lot of air through the horn approach it like an
orchestral excerpt in terms of volume and effect. I remember Stuart really encouraging
me to project sound through the Swashbucklers scherzo of the Hindemith Sonata.
Bordogni etudes we used these quite a bit to practice achieving a singing style
as well as practicing legato technique. Stuart encouraged us to think of them as an opera
aria and when possible we would play them with piano accompaniment.
Didgeridoo- Stuart encouraged his students to experiment and one opportunity we
all had was to learn to play the Australian didgeridoo. Most of us took the class Stuart
taught. On a sunny spring day, youd see Stuarts didgeridoo class sitting in the grass out
in the quad. You really have to have an open air passage to play this instrument, plus you
learn circular breathing and simultaneous vocalization while vibrating your lips skills
that really come in handy if want to take on the solo literature that use those techniques.
There's more to be said about all these topics, but this is what came to mind.
Unfortunately, twenty years does dull the memory a bit. I remember talking about
"Dempster's Laws" - but I don't remember what they specifically were , or if Stuart wrote
them down. I think basically, you broke one of "Dempster's laws" when you played

unmusically in your lesson, and you might get a penalty flag - or at least a pretty good
imitation of Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes.



Currently the trombone professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Gretchen
McNamara studied with Stuart Dempster earning a bachelors degree in Music
Performance and Education at the University of Washington.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

Im Gretchen (Hopper) McNamara. I studied with Stuart for five years at the
University of Washington during college as a double major in Music Performance and
Music Education. I currently teach trombone at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
I owe much of my success as an educator and musician, to the musical and technical
strategies I learned from Stuart, and the mentorship he has offered me over the years.
When looking back on my college experience, I remember being one of few
undergraduates at the time, surrounded by many graduate students who came to the
University of Washington specifically to study with Stuart. He had a reputation often
associated with contemporary trombone literature and modern technique which attracted
students from all over the country. What I learned most from him, however, was not
about contemporary trombone literature and techniques, rather the importance of daily
fundamentals practice, good practice strategies for developing consistency, and how to
nurture ones musicality.
At the beginning of each lesson we always spent time on fundamentals. It didnt
matter whether I had spent a little or a lot of time warming-up beforehand, he was always
very interested in working through every basic fundamental there is to being a successful
trombonist. As expected, there was always plenty of work to do. If something wasnt
working well, if there was a little noise in the system, or garbage in the sound, Stuart
was always interested in figuring it out. He liked to trouble shoot and now I do too. The
practice of trouble shooting, and having that modeled for me has largely contributed to
my approach and success as a music educator. Through this process, Stuart helped me
begin an understanding of the body and what posture means. He would always say,
Posture is an activity, to promote softness and fluidity in the movement of the large
motor skill required of trombone playing. He was interested in the best way to hold the
horn up with the least amount of physical effort, and of course, balance. Balance between

your two feet left to right and front to back. I can remember being the weeble-wabble in
lessons. Stuart was, of course, the kid! I would play and he would gently push me one
way or the other to see how relaxed I was and help me come back to center. The
emphasis on fundamentals and the physical aspect of playing has always been fascinating
to me and it remains the first activity with my current students of any age.
Stuart also taught me how to practice well. The efficiency of accurate repetition
was emphasized over the run-through approach or the approach of moving on after
several incorrect repetitions followed by one successful one, the I finally got it, now
lets move on approach. He used to count the number of times in a row I got a passage
correct. The goal was ten. If I messed up on number eight, well, we started our counting
over again. While it may have been frustrating in the moment, it really taught me how to
increase my percentages, as Stuart would call it. He also taught me how to backwards
practice. Not just simply starting at the end of a piece and working sections in reverse
order, certainly a valid approach. But more specifically, he taught me to isolate the
problem pitch and work backward, one note at a time, listening for clarity and
consistency in each repetition as the chunks got larger and larger. Knowing how to
practice well and knowing how and what specifically to listen for is so important.
Learning, understanding and putting to practice these types of strategies were intended
help me become my own teacher. After all, as he would remind me, I heard myself far
more frequently than he did.
Perhaps the most influential and meaningful aspect of lessons with Stuart had to
do with developing the musical line and creative interpretation of the literature
performed. Stuart wasnt interested in dictating how a piece should be played. There were
certain expectations of course, and he was well versed in those, but in terms of musical
development, he would encourage me to use of all of my expressive tools, without
prescribing each detail. I can hear Stuart say, Now do it again, but differently this time.
He encouraged me to try different dynamic and articulation contrasts and varying degrees
of vibrato. We spent a lot of time on how to make a breath musical by preparing it well
through the use of rubato. All of this experimentation was designed to help me make
decisions about what I liked and didnt like, what worked well technically, for me, and

what didnt. Stuart never discouraged a different musical approach if it ultimately fell
with-in the composers intentions and the expectations of the genre.
From basic fundamentals and sound practice strategies to becoming an expressive
artist on the trombone, Stuart was profoundly influential. I didnt know what I was
getting myself into when I chose the University of Washington for undergraduate study,
but my time with Stuart transformed me into someone ready to teach and perform as an
individual. There are traceable roots back to Stuart in everything I do professionally and I
am grateful. Stuart has served as a personal and professional mentor over the years and
our teacher-student relationship has softened into one of friendship and mutual respect.



Nathaniel Oxford studied with Stuart Dempster during his undergraduate years at the
University of Washington. One of Dempsters fondest memories of Oxford is his
performance of Dempsters Caprice, which requires the trombonist to play trombone
while riding a unicycle.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

Stuart, my experience in your trombone studio is one I didn't fully value until
years later, specifically because I wasn't mentally prepared to. I always had a lot more
going on than I could handle, and what I learned from you was that it was best to keep
things simple. You never complicated things, you didn't overdramatize, and you kept
your instructional feedback brief and concise. I remember fretting over mouthpieces, top-
lip-versus-bottom-lip ratio, or other physical details; but all you cared about was how the
music sounded when it came out the bell of my trombone. You told me about your own
practice habits in school, and how you played only for as long as you needed to
accomplish what you wanted to in one session. And when I came in for a lesson without
having prepared what I should have, you suggested I do something more valuable with
my time, such as getting a cup of tea. I suppose if I were to sum it all up, what I learned
was to do what you're going to do; don't do what you're not going to do; and do no more
than you need to do, to do what you're going to do. And... don't do it if you're not going
to have a little fun...



Jonathan Pasternack studied with Stuart Dempster, while earning a doctoral degree in
conducting. He has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony,
National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and the Scottish Chamber
Orchestra, among others.

Note: All correspondence and statements are copied as received.

Stuart Dempster was my trombone teacher at the University of Washington from

1996 to 1999. His musical insight and incredible knowledge about trombone playing and
music in general were great inspirations for me. Most of all, I credit him for having
solved a technical problem that I had thought was intractable: the inconsistency in my
ability to begin a note on the trombone. For about a dozen years before I moved to
Seattle and began my graduate studies with Stuart, I had studied with a number of
capable teachers--including some prominent orchestral trombonists--and had also played
on a professional level in the Boston and New York City areas. Throughout this time, I
had experienced this chronic issue: after taking a proper breath, I was not always able to
start a note, due to some kind of "blockage" in my throat. Although I was able to figure
out various ways of masking this problem, it got in my way enough that I became wary of
taking orchestral auditions or otherwise placing myself in high pressure playing
I cannot pinpoint the exact time when, as a result of Stuart's creative teaching and
with his great patience and sympathy, I was able to overcome my problem. He used
combinations of various means to approach the issue. Ultimately, we agreed that the
problem stemmed from some sort of psychological block. We surmised that the block
came about because of my excessive anxiety concerning the quality of my sound--I had
developed something of an obsession about playing the perfect note and somehow this
turned into technical sabotage. Stuart's basic objective was to get me to shed this anxiety.
He used different methods to get me to liberate my conservative idea of playing,
including having me switch to bass trombone for some time (I normally played tenor),
utilizing novel breathing exercises, and teaching me about "breath attacks" and directing

me use to these almost exclusively for a time. He urged me always to "play with
abandon," partially in an attempt to free me of my overly cerebral approach to trombone
playing (an approach which had led me to an intellectual over-determination of my
playing and, thus, my articulation dysfunction). After weeks of working on this, Stuart
triggered what led to our breakthrough, when he looked at me intensely and said, "I hope
you realize we are in this together." Stuart's careful and totally committed work with me
led eventually to our overcoming my years-old psychological stumbling block. We later
also discovered that the physical mechanism involved in my problem was related to the
"Valsalva maneuver," the build up of air pressure against the glottis.
As a direct result of my studies with Stuart Dempster, I am now able to play the
trombone with greater freedom than I had ever experienced in my nearly thirty years on
the instrument. As simple as it sounds, I was once unable to control fully the start of a
single note; this psychological/physical block is completely absent now and I have
Stuart's dedication and creative pedagogy to thank. Getting over what I had assumed was
an insoluble problem had an interesting effect on my conducting (an activity which is
now central to my professional life), in that I felt capable of tackling any difficult
situation, inspired as I was by Stuart Dempster's unique combination of total
commitment, creative analysis, perseverance and out-of-the-box experimentation--not to
mention Stuart's contagious optimism. Playing or conducting in a manner that is anything
less than "with abandon" is now unthinkable!



Note: The following list of commissions and dedications written for Stuart Dempster was
provided by Mr. Dempster during the course of our correspondence. All correspondence
and statements are copied as received.

Luciano Berio Sequenza V for Trombone Solo (1966)-Universal
Neely Bruce Grand Duo for Trombone and Piano (1971)
Barney Childs Music for Trombone and Piano (1966)-ACA
Donald Erb "...and then, toward the end..." for Trombone and Tape
Donald Erb Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (1976)-Presser
Robert Erickson General Speech for Solo Trombone (1969)-Smith
Robert Erickson Ricercare 5 for Trombones (1966)-Smith
Andrew Imbrie Fancy for Five for Trombones (1972)
Andrew Imbrie Three Sketches for Trombone and Piano (1967)-Shawnee
Ben Johnston One Man for Trombonist and Percussion (1967 & 1972)-
Ernst Krenek Five Pieces for Trombone and Piano (1967)-Brenreiter
Edwin London Highlights (1973) from the Carnivore of Uranus (1972) for
Trombone and Tape
Robert Moran Bombardments No. 4 for Trombone and Tape (1964 &
Pauline Oliveros Teach Yourself to Fly, original version for Five Trombones
or Trombone and Tape (1971)-Deep Listening
Pauline Oliveros Theater Piece (In the Garden) for Trombone Player and
Tape (1966)-Deep Listening
William O. Smith Janus for Trombone and Large Jazz Ensemble (1977)
William O. Smith Session for Solo Trombone (1979)-Ravenna
Robert Suderburg Night Set (Chamber Music III) for Trombone and Piano

Raymond Wilding-White Encores for Stu for Trombone and various combinations

William Bergsma Blatant Hypotheses for Trombone and Percussion (1977)-
Hal Budd Chaste, No Straighter for Trombone and Tape (1969)
Hal Budd "...only three clouds..." for Five Trombones (1969)
Conrad DeJong Aanraking (Contact) for Solo Trombone (1969)-Schirmer
Rob du Bois Solo for a Sliding Trombone (1968)-Donemus
Donald Erb In No Strange Land for Trombone, Contrabass, and Tape
Robert Hughes Anagnorisis, a Ballet for Trombone and Garden Hose,
Percussion and Solo Dancer (1964)
Richard Karpen Anterior View of an Interior with Reclining Trombonist:
The Conservation of Energy (2003)
David Mahler Dempster's Fantasy on an American Theme for Trombone
and Tape (1985)
Elliott Schwartz Options I for Trombone Alone or with Tape or Percussion
or Both (1970)-Media
Elliott Schwartz Signals for Trombone and Contrabass (1966)-Media
William O. Smith Encounter for Clarinet and Trombone (1970)-Ravenna
William O. Smith Eye Music for Clarinet and Trombone (1985)-Ravenna
William O. Smith Jazz Set for Clarinet and Trombone (1982)-Ravenna
William O. Smith Quadrogram for Clarinet, Percussion, Piano, and Trombone
William O. Smith Three for Dancer, Soprano, Clarinet, and Trombone
William O. Smith Webster's Story for Soprano, Clarinet, and Trombone

Robert Suderburg Breath and Circuses for Singer, Piano, and Trombone
(1991)-commissioned by the University of Washington
Contemporary Group
Raymond Wilding-White Whatzit No. 6 for Trombone and Tape (1970)
Paul Zonn Justice Variations for Trombone, Actor, Four Flutes, and
Bass Drum with Optional Tape, Films, and/or Slides (1971)




From: Human Subjects <>
Date: Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM
Subject: Human Subjects Staff Review

Human Subjects Application - For Full IRB and Expedited Exempt Review

PI Name: William Benjamin McIlwain

Project Title: Select Contributions and Commissions in Solo Trombone Repertoire By
Trombonist Innovator and Pioneer: Stuart Dempster

HSC Number: 2009.3783

Your application has been received by our office. Upon review, it has been determined
that your protocol is an oral history, which in general, does not fit the definition of
"research" pursuant to the federal regulations governing the protection of research
subjects. Please be mindful that there may be other requirements such as releases,
copyright issues, etc. that may impact your oral history endeavor, but are beyond the
purview of this office.


Art of States, "General speech (1969)."

(accessed March 26, 2010).

Baker, Buddy. Why? How about Who, Where, What, When?-The Development of
Berios Sequenza.International Trombone Journal 22, no.2 (Spring, 1994): 30-

Basart, Ann P. and Martin Brody. Imbrie, Andrew. Grove Music Online. 2003.
/article/grove/music/13728 (accessed June 13, 2010).

Beckerman, Michael. Ernst Krenek. The Orel Foundation. http://orelfoundation

.org/index .php/composers/article/ernst_krenek (accessed June 29, 2010).

Bernstein, David W. The San Francisco Tape Music Center: Emerging Art Forms and
The American Counterculture, 1961-1966. In The San Francisco Tape Music
Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, edited by David W.
Bernstein, 5-14. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California
Press, 2008.

Bowles, Garrett. "Krenek, Ernst." Grove Music Online, 2003. http://www.oxfordmusic (accessed June
29, 2010).

Buzzart, Monique. E-mail message to author, March 15, 2010.

Campbell, R.M. Dempsters Wit. Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 13, 1975.

Conant, Abbie. Grocks Biography. Grock and the Berio Sequenza V. (accessed October 1, 2008).

______________. Stu Dempster Speaks about His Life In Music: Reflections on His
Fifty-Year Career as a Trombonist, in conversation with Abbie Conant. Abbie
Conant and William Osborne.
(accessed May 19, 2010).

Dempster, Stuart. Interview by author via e-mail, January 14, 2010 April 28, 2010.

______________. Statement on Sound Massage Parlor emailed to author, February 11,


______________. The Modern Trombone: A Definition of its Idioms. Berkeley and Los

Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1979.

______________. Unpublished manuscript excerpt from the chapter Working with

Robert Erickson in the book, Stuart Dempster at Work. Emailed by Dempster to
author, January 27, 2010.

______________. Unpublished manuscript excerpt from the chapter Working with

Robert Suderburg in the book, Stuart Dempster at Work. Emailed by Dempster
to author, January 27, 2010.

Digger History. General Douglas MacArthur.

leaders/ww2/macarthur.htm (accessed March 26, 2010).

DiMaggio, Paul, Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman and John P. Robinson. Social
Implications of the Internet. Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 307-336.

Erickson, Robert, and John MacKay. Music of Many Means: Sketches and Essays on the
Music of Robert Erickson. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Felker, Gerald. Thoughts on the Study and Performance of General Speech.

International Trombone Journal 32, no. 1, (Winter 2004): 32-34.

Griffiths, Paul. Luciano Berio Is Dead at 77; Composer of Mind and Heart. New York
Times, May 23, 2003, under Arts.
html?res=9E00E2DF1131F93 A15756C0A9659C8B63
&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1 (accessed September 24, 2008).

Klein, Howard. Donald Erb: Drawing Down the Moon. New York, NY: Recorded
Anthology of American Music, Inc, 1994.

Lebens, James. Interview by author via phone, March 21, 2010.

MacArthur, General Douglas. Duty, Honor, Country, YouTube Web site, SgqSI1BESVE (accessed March 26, 2010).

McNamara, Gretchen. E-mail message to author, March 18, 2010.

Miles, Michael. An Interpretive and Stylistic Analysis of the Chamber Music VII and
Chamber Music VIII for Trumpet and Piano by Robert Suderburg. DMA diss.,
University of Kentucky, 1991.

Mousseau, Scott. E-mail message to author, February 26, 2010.

Neuenfeldt, Karl. Good Vibrations? The Curious Cases of Didjeridu in Spectacle and
Therapy in Australia, The World of Music, 40, no. 2 (1998): 29-51.

Ogdon, Will and Ernst Krenek. Conversation with Ernst Krenek, Perspectives of New

Music, 10, no. 2 (1972): 102-110.

Oliveros, Pauline. Interview by author via phone, April 17, 2010.

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______________. Berio, Luciano. Grove Music Online, 2003.
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Oxford, Nathanial. E-mail message to author, April 12, 2010.

Pasternack, Jonathan. E-mail message to author, March 14, 2010.

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_composer.html (accessed July 1, 2010).

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______________. Thinking Sound Music: The Life and Work of Robert Erickson.
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34, no. 2 (Spring 2006): 54-61.

Suderburg, Robert. Chamber Music III: Night Set. Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania: Theodore
Presser Company, 1980.

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online /grove/music /07545 (accessed
May 28, 2010).

Webb, Barrie. Performing Berios Sequenza V. Contemporary Music Review 26, no.
2: 207-208.

Webster, Daniel. Washington University Concert Has Quality, Wit, Polished

Performers. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1972: 23.

Welsh, Thomas. Stuart Dempster: An Interview. In The San Francisco Tape Music

Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, edited by David W.
Bernstein, 252-264. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of
California Press, 2008.

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Wolch, Dan. E-mail message to author, March 4, 2010.


William Benjamin McIlwain joined the faculty of The University of Southern

Mississippi in the fall of 2010. He holds degrees from Middle Tennessee State
University (B.M.), Manhattan School of Music (M.M.) and The Florida State University
(D.M.). In addition to USM, Dr. McIlwain has also taught at Brentwood Academy,
MTSU, and FSU.
An active freelance musician, Dr. McIlwain has performed with such artists as
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Peter Erskin, Rufus Reid, The Impressions,
Syndicate of Soul, Denver & The Mile High Orchestra and Joey Richey. Past
performances include performing with the Nashville Symphony (TN), the Huntsville
Symphony Orchestra (AL), the Chattanooga Symphony (TN), Murfreesboro
Philharmonic Orchestra (TN), Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (FL) and performing on
alto trombone with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra in the opening season of the new
Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2007, Dr. McIlwain
performed as a member of the "Internationally Recognized, Award-Winning" Trombone
Quartet: TROMBOTEAM! on their Summer Tour of Michigan, Tennessee, and Illinois.
Also, his recording credits include performing tenor and bass trombones on Mandisa's
(former American Idol contestant) Christmas Joy album and various projects in progress
with Orchestra Nashville.
In 2003 Dr. McIlwain was featured as a soloist with the Middle Tennessee State
University Wind Ensemble as winner of the 2002 Solo Artist Competition. An avid
supporter of modern music, Dr. McIlwain has performed Berios Sequenza V, Crespo's
Improvisation No. 1, Rabes Basta, Rush's Rebellion, Suderburgs Chamber Music III:
Night Set, and premiered Whaleys Delirium and Burton's The Voice, both written for
At USM, Dr. McIlwain directs all aspects of the trombone studio including the
USM Trombone Choir and Hub Bones (jazz trombone ensemble). He is also a member
of the Southern Arts Brass Quintet, the faculty brass quintet of USM. His primary
teachers have included Drs. David Loucky, Per Brevig and John Drew. In addition, he

has participated in master classes with many of the world's leading trombonists, including
Joseph Alessi, David Finlayson, James Markey, and Steve Norrell.
As a Presidential University Fellow at Florida State University, Dr. McIlwain was
the first doctoral trombone student and one of two in the entire College of Music at FSU
to ever receive this honor.