Thomas J. Dempster :: Composer

West Columbia, SC USA


ALL MUSIC (ALPHABETICALLY):

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10 Roentgens
10 Roentgens [2011] [8:30] [video+audio]

First performed: May 13, 2011, New York, NY

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ahalugisdi unole (to quiet the wind)
ahalugisdi unole (to quiet the wind) [2014] [10:30] [bassoon and pre-recorded sounds]

First performed: Feb. 26, 2014, Fredericksburg, VA

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Among the Woodlands
Among the Woodlands [2016] [22:00] [wind ensemble and piano / four-hands]

In three movements, Among the Woodlands is my first return to the wind band medium in a decade. It is also the (very likely) first original composition (at least in the 21st Century) for wind band and four-hand piano. The work was commissioned by Lamar University's Wind Ensemble, various Greek musical societies at Lamar, and Duo Korusa, to whom it is dedicated. As I spent much time in Texas, and as the institution commissioning the work is in Texas, the piece deals with many "Texas" elements within.

First performance: February 27, 2017, Nederland, TX

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asuurinsiniset teräshiukkaset
asuurinsiniset teräshiukkaset [2006] [9:00] [stereo]
Composed for a collaborative CD release in 2006, this piece takes steel pans -- the leftovers the oil industry brought to the Caribbean -- and gives them Saariaho and Lindberg-like treatments, resutling in an at-times rhythmically driving gloss, at times brutal soundscapes, and at other times subdued, shifting spectral terrains.
First performed: Thomas Dempster, Apr. 2, 2010, Austin, TX
 
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basking in the copper look
basking in the copper look [2004] [1:00] [stereo]
Inspired by a short story by pre-Stalin Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms, this piece is a quick examination of explosions of everyday objects.
First performed: Apr. 14, 2010, Istanbul, Turkey
 
beacon
beacon [2007] [6:00] [solo horn]

No audio samples available
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Bee Dances
Bee Dances [2015] [8:30] [bassoon duo]

First performed: July 10, 2015, Cortona, Italy

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Between Scylla and the Deep Blue Sea
Between Scylla and the Deep Blue Sea [2016] [8:30] [dulcian/bassoon, viola da gamba, keyboard]

First performed: Feb. 6, 2016, New York, NY
Audio unavailable at this time.
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between the strings
between the strings [2006] [18:00] [stereo and 16-channel]
Based upon a Baroque violin sonata by Tartini, this long, perhaps wandering, work investigates worlds trapped between pitch and gesture. This 18-minute permutation clarifies over time as the original source materials slowly resolve and show themselves.
 
the bunyip
the bunyip [2014] [8:30] [alto saxophone and pre-recorded sounds]

First performed: Apr. 3, 2014, Stillwater, OK

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The Bystander
The Bystander [2001] [8:00] [stereo]
An early electroacoustic work of mine, The Bystander may be the earliest EAM work of mine that I don't outright hate. More of an etude on envelope shapes and novel uses of FM synthesis, it stands up evenly with, at least, anything I wrote in my early 20s.
First performed: January 27, 2002, Greensboro, NC
Unfortunately, I won't be posting audio of this piece for a while.  
camera
camera [2004] [16:00] [small orchestra - 1111+aux-1110-2pc-pf-strings - typically 15-20 performers]

In three movements, camera (which has its own weird life as my Master's thesis) is a work that was inspired by and concerned with my then-hobby of photography. While not distinctly or overtly programmatic, the work takes its cue from techniques, looking at objects from multiple perspectives, and the like. The score bears a much more extensive (if unnecessary) program note.

First performed: Mar. 30, 2004, Austin, TX
First Movement  
Second Movement  
Third Movement  

Complete recording (Soundcloud):


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can(n)on fanfare
can(n)on fanfare [2012] [5:00] [brass quintet]

First performed: Mar. 28. 2012, Orangeburg, SC
 
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Canticles
Canticles [2001] [12:00] [solo flute]

First performed: Nov. 26, 2001, Greensboro, NC
 
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Concert à Trois
Concert à Trois [2000] [10:00] [bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, bassoon]

First performed: Jan. 27, 2002, Greensboro, NC
Audio currently unavailable.  
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Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra [2010] [40:00] [viola solo and large orchestra - [3333][4331] timp 3 perc hp pf strings]

My dissertation composition, I sought to create a work in an under-represented medium. Easily the "largest" work I've ever written (in terms of forces and duration), clocking in at over 41 minutes, the Concerto explores a host of techniques for the viola, but is an incredibly melodic and virtuosic piece, with a lot of orchestral flashiness and flair.

No audio samples available at this time.
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Congaree Voices
Congaree Voices [2014] [11:00] [piano (four hands) and pre-recorded sounds]

First performed: Nov. 7, 2014, Anderson, SC
 
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contact clusters
contact clusters [2007] [11:00] [quad]
Using mathematical knot theory as a starting point, I take some simple violin string gestures about as far as I cared to. Keep an ear out for my sultry tribal rhythms toward the end. This piece has been reviewed a few times, notably in the MIT publication Computer Music Journal.
First performed: Feb. 5, 2008, Greensboro, NC
 
Copla
Copla [2001] [11:00] [solo bassoon]

First performed: April 27, 2001, Greensboro, NC
Audio currently unavailable.
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critical mass
critical mass [2005] [45:00] [stereo or 8-channel]
A magnum opus, if not self-indulgent as hell, Critical Mass is a seven-movement, 45-minute inner dialogue about faith, existence, place in the world, and cynicism. While it is unlikely I will post the entire piece online, please stay tuned for a commercial release in mid-2017.
First performed: November 12, 2005, Birmingham, UK
Movement two: "invocations"  
crossing the threshold
crossing the threshold [2003] [11:30] [stereo]
An outgrowth of a piece for two dancers and interactive video systems, this work is largely the realization and sequencing of the sounds and gestures meant to be generated somewhat at random in the original work threshold, which is now withdrawn.
First performed: Nov. 8, 2003, Denton, TX
 
crowdsurfing in a bathysphere
crowdsurfing in a bathysphere [2013] [3:00] [stereo]
This three-minute piece deals with my own persisting issues with extreme anxiety and agoraphobic tendencies. Hopefully you can hear that a little bit.
First performed: Nov. 12, 2013, Orangeburg, SC
 
dancing between smoke and mirrors
dancing between smoke and mirrors [2004] [10:30] [wind ensemble and percussion]

Commissioned for the 2004 NC Governor's School Wind Ensemble, this piece is a gestural, coloristic work filled with ostinatos and big moments. The trumpet and oboe sections and percussion feature prominently into the work.
.
First performed: July 22, 2004, Raleigh, NC
 
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deep cover
deep cover [2010] [14:00] [stereo or quad]
Ostensibly about a spy or secret agent who is having his or her own epistemological crisis and existential dread, the piece, loosely inspired by Alain Robbe-Grillet's brilliant novel Repetition, largely deals with impostor syndrome and having to live in the shadows -- for any reason.
First performed: Feb. 26, 2014, Fredericksburg, VA
 
distant songs
distant songs [2002] [18:00] [oboe and piano]

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earthenware
earthenware [2005] [13:00] [stereo or quad]
Well, there's trees, there's dirt, there's tiles, there's rocks, so let's bang and thud them all and record them and get editing and get verschnicken. In sincerity, the title is more literal than suggestive: anything that was brought up from the earth and made (from the surface or below) is used in this recording. A truly Montrealish acousmatic experience complete with too much GRM plug-in usage!
 
feather and blade
feather and blade [2016] [12:00] [soprano and piano]

[No audio samples currently available]
[Score availability coming soon] [Preview coming soon]
fo(u)r in:stance
fo(u)r in:stance [2002] [13:00] [oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon]

Audio unavailable.
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Four Movements for Saxophone Quartet
Four Movements for Saxophone Quartet [1999] [20:00] [saxophone quartet - SATBar]

Audio unavailable.
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Four-Part Étude
Four-Part Étude [2002] [4:00] [any four instruments]

First performed: July 2, 2002, Raleigh, NC
Audio unavailable.  
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from distant valleys
from distant valleys [2006] [9:00] [stereo or quad]
The second in an undefined series of pieces based on folk idioms or ideas. This one borrows from and/or remixes Kabuki, Gagaku, Beijing Opera, and more from East Asia.
 
glass ghosts
glass ghosts [2002] [13:00] [bassoon and pre-recorded sounds]

First performed: April 3, 2002, Greensboro, NC

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heavenly creatures
heavenly creatures [2003] [8:00] [trombone quartet]

First performed: July 22, 2003, Raleigh, NC
Audio unavailable.
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Hungry Ghosts
Hungry Ghosts [2012] [12:00] [solo violin]

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inflection points
inflection points [2009] [15:00] [flute, bassoon, and piano]

First performed: Sep. 29, 2009, Greensboro, NC
First movement 
Second movement 
Third movement 
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invertebrate counterpoint
invertebrate counterpoint [2015] [18:00] [solo piano]

First performed: Mar. 9, 2015, Beaumont, TX
 
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lines in the sand
lines in the sand [2006] [9:00] [flute, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, horn, viola, cello]

First performed: June 4, 2006, Columbus, OH
Audio unavailable.
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low tide
low tide [2003] [9:00] [stereo]
An earlier work, this piece deals with ecological ruin, as much of the source material comes from birds roosting in areas of suburban Austin TX that are now covered with sprawl. Other sources include recordings from swampy areas in southeastern NC, and a gavel.
First performed: Nov. 21, 2003, Austin, TX
 
marching in heavy water
marching in heavy water [2006] [12:30] [wind ensemble and percussion]

Commissioned for the 2006 NC Governor's School Wind Ensemble, this piece takes its cue from my anti-nuclear, pacifist proclivities. At the time of the composition, there was an intense war of words between the US and Iran over nuclear power and weapons, and talk of invading Iran. This came quickly on the heels of the invasion of Iraq. Unlike visions of sanguine skies, an overtly anti-war piece, this piece is more subtle, perhaps, moving across moods and caricatures, ending with a chilling, distant, air-raid siren.
.
First performed: July 27, 2006, Raleigh, NC
 
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melt
melt [2014] [10:00] [quad]
Using the sounds of water flowing, freezing, thawing, and falling, melt examines the possible torrential and unstoppable soundscape caught up with rising sea levels.
First performed: Aug. 13, 2015, Limerick, Ireland
 
metastable
metastable [2014] [9:00] [flute, vibraphone]

First performed: Aug. 14, 2014, Portsmouth, NH

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national anthem
national anthem [2006] [8:00] [stereo]
Gathered from interviews, old recordings of anthems, and radio broadcasts, this piece examines, rather cynically and critically, if not satirically, exactly who and what we are and were and thought we could be during the height of Bush 43. There is some strong language in the piece and it may not be suitable for all audiences. As is said, "get your mind right."
First performed: May 5, 2006, Austin, TX
 
nocturnes in blue, green, and gold
nocturnes in blue, green, and gold [2016] [12:00] [flute, oboe, clarinet]

First performed: June 3, 2016, Monroe, LA
First movement
Second movement
[Preview coming soon] [Please contact me directly for score/parts]
on distant hills
on distant hills [2005] [8:00] [stereo]
The first of an unknown number of pieces drawing on folk influences, on distant hills engages with West African and Central African folk materials.
Audio is unavailable at this time.  
onethousandwords
onethousandwords [2009] [6:00] [stereo]
Another work that indirectly poses questions about how we operate within and treat our environment on Earth, this piece wanders around the world in order to figure out what sort of picture we want to see when we conjure our place on the planet. I promise you it's not nearly as preachy as that sounds..
First performed: July 5, 2009, Raleigh, NC
 
the painter on silk
the painter on silk [2015] [7:00] [mezzo-soprano and violin]

First performed: Mar. 19, 2016, Princeton, NJ

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pentes:grammes
pentes:grammes [2009] [8:30] [solo piccolo]

First performed: Feb. 15, 2010, Kearney, NE
 
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perpetual notion
perpetual notion [2011] [9:00] [string quartet]

First performed: Oct. 28, 2011, Terre Haute, IN

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PLECTRA
PLECTRA [2009] [8:30] [harpsichord]

First performed: April 9, 2004, Austin, TX
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ponque
ponque [2013] [2:10] [saxophone quartet]

First performed: Oct. 19, 2013, Kansas City, MO

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portmanteaux
portmanteaux [2014] [12:30] [flute and alto saxophone]

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Purgatory Branch (Winter)
Purgatory Branch (Winter) [2015] [5:30] [mezzo-soprano and flute (or bassoon)]

First performed: Oct. 24, 2015, Orono, ME

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Ra, descending to Earth
Ra, descending to Earth [2007] [9:00] [solo trombone]

First performed: Oct. 8, 2014, Mesa, AZ

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rainchime
rainchime [2005] [9:00] [stereo]
An antidote to the headiness of critical mass, this piece was composed in about two weeks' time using nothing but the sounds my mouth made drinking water. I was almost a full decade ahead of Marco Rubio.
First performed: Nov. 19, 2005, Austin, TX
 
red pine
red pine [2011] [1:15] [solo harp]

Audio unavailable.
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the red hills of Georgia
the red hills of Georgia [2012] [7:30] [video+audio]
Brief program note.
First performed: July 9, 2012, Raleigh, NC

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resemblematics
resemblematics [2004] [9:00] [wind quintet]

Audio unavailable.
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residues (don't)
residues (don't) [2012] [1:00] [stereo]
Made from leftovers of other pieces, this is more of a 45-second echo or waning reverberation of an idea than a piece. Still, there are worse ways to waste 45 seconds, right?
First performed: Mar. 1, 2013, Cambridge, MA
 
Saluda
Saluda [2016] [7:30] [solo English horn]

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scenes from a fragmented ballet
scenes from a fragmented ballet [2005] [12:00] [wind ensemble and percussion]

Commissioned for the 2005 NC Governor's School Wind Ensemble, this piece imagines a series of dance movements on a stage, from serene duets to primal and ritualistic ensembles. The piece arises out of dusky clouds and undergoes a series of starts and stops, elements juxtaposed and occasionally blending into one another.
.
First performed: July 21, 2005, Raleigh, NC

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sendai
sendai [2011] [9:30] [SSA choir, flute, chimes, piano]

First performed: July 20, 2011, Raleigh, NC

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seven selected snapshots of a lingering spectre
seven selected snapshots of a lingering spectre [2010] [14:00] [violin and piano]

First performed: Feb. 25, 2012, Tampa, FL

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skitter
skitter [2016] [1:00] [solo percussion]

First performed: Apr. 10, 2016, Atlanta, GA

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solstice
solstice [2005] [7:00] [brass ensemble and percussion]

Composed in 2005 for possible performance during summer of that same year, this brief work for orchstral brass and percussion is a highly-canonic and spectrally-influenced work that exists somewhere between fanfare and distant mountain echo.
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No audio samples available.
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Sonata for Trumpet and Piano
Sonata for Trumpet and Piano [2000] [16:00] [trumpet and piano]

First performed: Jan. 25, 2001, Greensboro, NC
 
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spectres
spectres [2004] [14:00] [stereo]
Based loosely on the spectral information and attack structure of an open C string on a cello, spectres is a strange auditory trip strongly influeced by my then-obsessive interest in the Montreal acousmatic school and early spectralist composers.
First performed: Nov. 8, 2005, Austin, TX
 
spin, sing, leap
spin, sing, leap [2015] [12:30] [violin, cello, piano]

First performed: July 11, 2015, Cortona, Italy

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such delicate phantoms
such delicate phantoms [2013] [8:30] [piano four hands]

First performed: Oct. 19, 2014, Columbia, SC

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Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 [2001] [25:00] [wind symphony - 3333-4231, no perc]

At the time my largest piece, this 35-minute work for orchestral winds is in four movements, modeled after a late-Romantic symphonic form (moderate, aggressive opening movement; scherzo second movement; melodious, sensual third movement that is the keystone of the work; and the fast, in-one's-face closing movement). Germanic in its harmonic language, French in its clarity, and Italian in its melodic treatments, the piece is a good snapshot of where I was as a senior in college, which was when it was composed.
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First performed: November 18, 2001, Greensboro, NC
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synapse
synapse [2014] [8:00] [solo bassoon]

First performed: Aor, 15, 2014, Orangeburg, SC
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talking in circles before the radio explodes
talking in circles before the radio explodes [2009] [1:00] [stereo]
This work was made primarily by using a few programs that translated photographs into wide-spectrum, filtered noise bands of some complexity. The pictures used were of people who had left my life too soon -- accidentally, or by choice. It's a lot to squeeze into a minute.
First performed: Nov. 12, 2013, Orangeburg, SC
 
tandem
tandem [2016] [8:00] [alto saxophone duo]

Audio unavailable.
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to correspond with sparrows
to correspond with sparrows [2013] [8:30] [flute and alto saxophone]

First performed: Sep. 23, 2013, Murfreesboro, TN

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twine
twine [2016] [12:00] [guitar duo]

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two against three
two against three [2005] [8:30] [bassoon duo]

First performed: Mar. 5, 2009, Huntsvile, AL
 
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tårar
tårar [2007] [5:30] [solo 'cello]

First performed: Mar. 28, 2013, High Point, NC
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variables
variables [2001] [13:00] [clarinet and viola]

First performed: Jan. 27, 2002, Greensboro, NC
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visions of sanguine skies
visions of sanguine skies [2003] [8:30] [wind ensemble and percussion]

Commissioned for the 2003 NC Governor's School Wind Ensemble, this work is a direct musical challenge to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
.
First performed: July 24, 2003, Raleigh, NC
 
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wave mechanics
wave mechanics [2009] [9:30] [clarinet and string quartet]

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waves of tears
waves of tears [2011] [9:00] [saxophone sextet / orchestra]

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Zugzwang!
Zugzwang! [2012] [13:00] [horn and bassoon]

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