Chris M. Sharpe
Escape from Death's Door: for Trombone Quartet
3 tenors 1 bass

, United States
Date of Publication: 2018

Score and parts


Chris Sharpe’s trombone quartet is inspired by the wildlife and terrain of Door County, Wisconsin. According to the composer’s preface in the score, the main themes are each based on various bird calls, and the perpetual shifting between 3/4 and 6/8 meter is intended to evoke a sailor’s treacherous journey through the Porte des Morts (Death's Door) between Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

The piece begins in A minor and gradually moves to F minor through a series of mostly minor keys along the way. The harmonic language is often triadic but not especially traditionally functional and the texture is more motivic than melodic. The composer gives each trombonist many opportunities to play thematic material. While the entire work is notated in 3/4 meter, many measures are beamed as though in 6/8 time. In some instances this might be perceived more as syncopation than as compound duple meter, and this ambiguity could be a potential source of frustration while rehearsing this work.

Escape from Death’s Door is well suited for most college level ensembles. It encompasses a playing range between G and b-flat² in the tenor trombone parts and between AA and a in the bass trombone part. The parts and score are well edited with a clean look, an abundance of rehearsal marks, and lots of good performance suggestions. With its constant and driving rhythmic and harmonic intensity, Escape from Death’s Door is sure to be a crowd pleaser and will likely find itself onto many recital programs.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published February 25, 2021