Varietals for Trombone and Piano

Andrew J. Skaggs is a professional trombonist, conductor and composer living in the Washington, DC area.  He currently performs with the United States Navy Band and has previously held positions with the Charlotte Symphony and the South Carolina Philharmonic.  Mr. Skaggs grew up in Ashland, Kentucky and began writing music at an early age, mostly vocal and choral.  His early works garnered numerous awards during his teenage years and drew high praise from several notable contemporaries including Pulitzer Prize winners Dominick Argento and John Corigliano.  Mr. Skaggs studied composition, voice, piano and trombone at DePauw University, where his teachers included David Ott and James Beckel. 

  1. Opening - Barolo

    Barolo is bold and powerful, often referred to as the “king of wines,” and comes from the Piedmont region of Italy. This movement begins with a strong fanfare motive built on ascending perfect fourths, and that idea continues into the first of two interlocking themes. Meanwhile, the piano complements the solo trombone with a jocular ostinato based on consecutive fifths. The musical characteristics of the opening movement are boisterous, dry, and rather aggressive.  Click the links below to hear Nitzan Haroz (Principal Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra) performing the Pennsylvania premiere at Temple University on June 18, 2012.

  2. Intermezzo - Toscana

    Toscana, another red varietal, is more smooth and velvety, and hails (as its name suggests) from the area of Tuscany. For this movement I wanted something heartfelt, sentimental and without artifice. It begins with a recitative meant to evoke the style of Verdi or Puccini, and the main theme is based on an orchestral passage that appears in the second act of the opera "Tosca."

  3. Tarantella - Verduzzo

    Verduzzo is a golden wine grape, with a rich, sweet flavor redolent of melons and honey. I chose the form of the Tarantella for this movement in order to close the work with a rousing climax. The Tarantella is a frantic dance once believed to counter the effects of a tarantula bite (though in all likelihood, it had exactly the opposite effect - so it goes...). There are two themes in play, one in F major and another in B minor, and the piece ends in an exhilarating rush of energy.