The Serpent

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On this episode of Arizona Encore, performances from the College Band Directors National Association Conference and the International Tuba Euphonium Conference that were held at Arizona State University bring us intriguing performances of music for wind instruments.

man playing serpent
Doug Yeo performing on the serpent

The program features a performance by the University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble, and also a rare opportunity to hear one of the most unusual musical instruments ever invented: the serpent. An eight-foot-long serpentine shaped tube of leather covered wood with six fingerholes and a small, trombone-like mouthpiece, the serpent has been around since the late sixteenth century. It was originally used to accompanying the singing of chant in the church in France, and over time, it found its way into chamber music groups, bands, and orchestras before losing the evolutionary battle with the tuba.

But the serpent has been revived over the last fifty years, and our program features performances of three works that feature this curious instrument with a distinctive sound, played by our program’s host, Douglas Yeo, who first encountered the serpent in the 1990s when he was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s trombone section. For two works, he is joined by faculty and students from Arizona State University who form a small wind ensemble, and he also plays a solo for serpent with piano accompaniment.

For more information about the College Band Directors National Association, visit cbdna.org. For more information about the International Tuba Euphonium Association, visit iteaonline.org.

Dahl - Sinfonietta - University of Southern California - Thornton Wind Ensemble; Robert Reynolds, conductor

I. Introduction and Rondo

II. Pastoral Nocturne

III. Dance Variations


Bevan - Variations on "The Pesky Sarpent" - Douglas Yeo, serpent; Susan Wass, piano


Haydn - Divertimento in B-flat (Chorale St. Antoni), Hob. II/46 - Joshua Gardner and Stefanie Gardner, clarinet; Albie Micklich, Michelle Fletcher, and Harrison Cody, bassoon; Isabella Kolasinski and Bailey Hendley, horn; Douglas Yeo, serpent; Jamal Duncan, conductor.

I. Allegro con spirito

II. Andante

III. Menuetto

IV. Rondo-Allegretto


Hummel - Partita in E-flat - Martin Schuring and Curtis Sellers, oboe; Joshua Gardner and Stefanie Gardner, clarinet; Albie Micklich, Michelle Fletcher, bassoon; Isabella Kolasinski and Bailey Hendley, horn; Douglas Yeo, serpent; Jason Caslor, conductor.

I. Allegro con spirito

II. Andante piu tosto-Allegretto

III. Vivace assai

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