Jeremy Niles Kempton
Ricercar for Sonorous Instruments:
Four trombones

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

Score and parts


A ricercar is a generic term for an instrumental composition in the sixteenth century. Some ricercars featured extensive use of imitative polyphony. These would eventually evolve into what became known as fugues. Other ricercars were predominantly homophonic works with lots of fast-moving virtuosic passagework. These eventually evolved into toccatas. Jeremy Niles Kempton’s Ricercar for Sonorous Instruments definitely belongs to this latter type of ricercar.

With a compositional style that harkens back to the great brass music of Giovanni Gabrieli but with a harmonic language straight out of the 19th century, Kempton’s three minute work is both accessible to a wide variety of audiences and rewarding for ensembles to perform. Written in simple ternary form, the first A section begins with a three note unison motive that is revealed to be the beginning of a fanfare gesture that appears throughout the piece. The B section contrasts these fanfares with lyricism and a somewhat more polyphonic texture.


With a first trombone part that never exceeds b-flat1 and a fourth part that only extends down to C with an optional FF on the final chord, Kempton’s Ricercar should be manageable by a wide variety of intermediate to advanced ensembles. While probably intended to be played by a bass trombone, the fourth part could easily be managed by a tenor trombone with an F attachment. Available from Cherry Classics Music as either a mailed physical copy or digital download, the Ricercar for Sonorous Instruments will surely find itself as an opener or transition piece on many trombone quartet programs.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published January 28, 2019