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Music lecturer's ‘world premieres’ reflect service to saxophone education

Published on April 09, 2024

Music lecturer's ‘world premieres’ reflect service to saxophone education

Josh Thomas performs two saxophone world premieres.

Thomas performs with accompanist David Ballena in the Concert Hall.

Josh Thomas, lecturer of music at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently performed a recital of world premieres for each voice of the saxophone. Alongside accompanist and music lecturer David Ballena, Thomas performed these solos March 2 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall.

World premieres, explained Thomas, are “the first-ever performance(s) of a new work.” The works Thomas debuted were the results of the Smart Repertoire Project, which aims to create pieces for high school and college students to perform on the saxophone.

Thomas' world premieres are a culmination of five years of work with the Smart Repertoire Project.

“I started this (project) about five years ago with the purpose of commissioning composers to write new works, specifically for intermediate level saxophone,” said Thomas. “I give the composers a few parameters that involve the length of (each) work, range and level of technique.”

When writing works for multiple voices of the saxophone, “each one of these uses the same fingering systems and reads music the same way,” said Thomas. “However, because each (saxophone) is a different size, they transpose differently.”

While proud of his work, Thomas has greater goals than personal fulfillment. “It is personally satisfying to have a hand in bringing new music to the world and helping to create a space for their performance,” he said.

Thomas aims to serve the greater community of saxophone students and educators. “The real goal is for these works to become part of the standard saxophone repertoire,” he said. “Hearing other saxophonists perform these works in the future would be the ultimate satisfaction for me.”

Thomas continues to take steps toward this goal, planning the next two pieces for the Smart Repertoire Project. “I think working with composers on new music is one of the most satisfying things I do in the music realm, so I do not anticipate slowing down anytime soon.” 

Written by Noel Teter

Categories: Music