David Fetter
Situation Update:
Solo tenor trombone and wind band

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2018

Score and parts. A version with piano accompaniment is also available.


Commissioned by the Eagles Band of Pittsfield, MA, for a performance in celebration of the band’s 80th anniversary in 2016, with Ronald Barron as soloist, Situation Update is scored for 2 flutes, oboe, 3 clarinets in B-flat, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 alto, 1 tenor, 1 baritone saxophone, 3 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B-flat, solo trombone, tenor trombone, bass trombone, baritone, tuba, 3 timpani, percussion: snare drum, cymbals, bass drum (1 player).


In the solo part, Old Nick struts his stuff. In the band, each part may make harmonic or melodic sense on its own, but in combination there are always dissonant voices. Players are not listening to each other; they are playing a b natural in a b-flat chord, or a g-sharp in a D minor chord – and think the devil’s interval, there are many of them here.

I. Swift, The Devil’s Swagger (4:40). The piece begins with all parts marked forte, solo trombone playing in its upper-middle register with bass clarinet, bassoon, baritone, tuba, and tenor and bari. Saxophones, then joined by horns, bass clarinet and clarinets in their lowest register, all exceedingly dark sounds.


II. Longing (4:40) Darker sounds predominate throughout this movement, which is a slow and bitter-sweet waltz, based on a falling phrase encompassing an augmented fourth. Again it begins in the low winds and brass. Not till the 23rd measure do the brighter sounds of the upper winds enter, then only for eight measures. Altogether, flutes play for only 25 measures out of 103 in this movement.


III. Exit Music 2:10. This is in the style of a somewhat disorientated Sousa March, in which some players have the wrong transpositions in their parts. The Andante section on p.14 reminds a little of the style of Alschausky. Elsewhere, I have noted some similarities to the style of the Trombone Concerto by Derek Bourgeois. For the last 10 measures, as the lemmings tumble over the cliff, all parts are marked fortissimo, and for the first time in the whole piece the ensemble plays tutti.


Scoring for band is imaginative, using many different combinations of instruments, and some parts are quite demanding. First trombone tops out at a1. First trumpet goes up to c-sharp3. This piece however should be within the capability of a good college-level ensemble or community band. The solo trombone part is written in a virtuoso style and calls for an advanced player. Range for the solo comprises G-c2; its part is in bass clef and there are many leger lines. David Fetter is currently Assistant Dean at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 4, 2019