Thomas J. Dempster :: Composer

West Columbia, SC USA


Join me to help commission a new work for soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, and wind ensemble!

July, 2017
UPDATE: The work is still slated to happen, but due to some speedbumps and logistics, the premiere has been moved to the 2018-2019 season, likely toward the end of 2018. This also will give us some more time to get consortium members, fundraise, and perhaps most importantly, give me a little more time and breathing room to get the work off the ground and prepared.

In a little while -- perhaps by mid-August 2017 -- there will be a new push to find consortium partners and a launch of an online fundraising platform to create opportunities for new supporters. Head over to my Contact page and subscribe to my Facebook page in order to keep up with any updates on those fronts, or just come back here in a few weeks -- fundraisers, partners, and more news will be posted soon.

February 15, 2017
I have been approached by Neal Postma, a fantastic saxophonist and current DMA student at the University of South Carolina, to compose a double concerto for soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, and wind ensemble. USC's saxophone professor, Cliff Leaman, is on board as well, as is the wind ensemble from Claflin University, and likely the wind ensemble of the University of South Carolina as well.

This would be an exploration of a new terrain as it would be my first concertante work for winds, and I am excited by the possibility to create a vital, energetic work for these performers. In our conversations, Neal and I kicked around the idea of Lutoslawski-meets-Steve-Reich, and as I dwell on it, I'm veering toward a sexier and more adventurous version of my own voice (which already has hints of aforementioned composers) indulging in a little indeterminate acid jazz. Or so I think.

I recently completed (and will be at the premiere in two weeks) a somewhat adventurous work for four-hand piano and wind band that explores interesting compositional realms with some hints of my occasional musical inhibitions. But, as P-Funk has instructed me, I will make every attempt to tear the roof off this sucker a little bit.

I am also aware of the political and cultural moment in which we are caught as Americans, and the detournement and counterpolitical cry of "nevertheless, she persisted" seems to hang close to my ears. I cannot say for certain the work would have a political thrust, but I cannot rule out the prospect of the work including union work songs, speech rhythms from infamous recent diatribes, or the like. This is still gestational, and I am a by-product of the now.

At any rate, I am attempting to bring into the fold as many potential consortium members as possible. The more the merrier (and the more signees, the less each consortium member would have to contribute).

The work is tentatively slated to be 10 to 12 minutes in duration, single movement, heavy on the soloists, and likely heavy on brass and percussion. The instrumentation right now is still somewhat open -- it could veer toward whatever the pleasure or limitations of the consortium may be. At current, we are looking at a fast timeline -- possibly premiering the work in February 2018 at the SC Music Educators Conference with additional regional/state premieres close behind. (I know what I'll be doing this summer!) I also intend on applying for grants in order to bring down the consortium cost. Ideally, I would like to keep each consortium's fee at or below $1000, with a minimum commission fee somewhere between $8000 and $10000. (It would be fabulous if I can get that per-signee number down to, say, $400 or $500...)

If you're seeing this page and don't know my work, I invite you to click around a little bit and get a feel for it -- I try to be as all over the place as possible and not be too nailed down. My work tends to be relatively technically advanced and colorful (I hope), though I do have my occasional "slow jam." (Yes, I used "scare quotes.") (As I get more recent performances, I post them here or to Soundcloud; by the beginning of March, I should have a recording of my newest band work, Among the Woodlands for four-hand piano and wind ensemble)

If you're interested in joining the consortium or just have more questions about it, please email me at tom [at] thomasdempster dot com or tjdempster [at] gmail dot com (or why not just both!? and ZOIDBERG!?). I'd love to hear from you! BETTER YET, fill out this form here!