Australian ophicleide virtuoso Nick Byrne inspires US composer William Perry’s newest major concerto.

Wondering why you’ve never heard of the ophicleide before? With a mouthpiece like a trombone, the ophicleide is a forerunner of the modern tuba but uses keys like a saxophone. A prominent part of the Romantic brass section, the ophicleide was invented in 1817. Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Verdi all wrote for the instrument, yet by 1900 it was obsolete.

Very few contemporary musicians own or play the antique ophicleide. Yet, one of our own has caught American composer William Perry’s interest. After hearing Sydney Symphony trombonist Nick Byrne’s CD ‘Back From Oblivion’, Perry says, “I knew that I wanted to write a concerto for him. He is not just a player but a true virtuoso on the instrument. His musicianship is extraordinary, and he can make the instrument sing with the natural sound of the finest operatic tenor or baritone.”

Also a composer of concertos for piano, violin, cello, trumpet and flute, Perry’s major ophicleide concerto features four movements, each reflecting the personality of the ophicleide in the modern era. The first, Blue Ophicleide, is heavily jazz inspired whilst the second is a series of marches...