Shelley Washington

Let's Make Some Noise Together

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 The Farthest

Words and Music written by Shelley Washington

Commissioned by Dianne Berkun-Menaker for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Silent Voices II concert, April 2018. Performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus accompanied by members of the ICE Ensemble.

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I wanted to write a piece that would comment on the desires that many young people currently share; wants that span the personal “when I grow up...” to the public “in the future, we...” I also wanted my piece to ring true for any person during the era that they were young - their dreams for the future, taking risks in hopes of stepping closer to their goals, and forming alliances against adversaries. We as people have always wanted to be some form of good, and for our futures to be brighter than our present. Individuals’ belief of what constitutes goodness has the power to write laws, create religions, and drive culture. This desire to be personally better, to intentionally grow into our collective best, has steered the rise and fall of every empire. The Farthest is intended to be sung by the voices of now as a call both forward and backwards in time; a shout of gratitude back to those who challenged the wrongs of their time, and a call forward to all listeners to never give up hope, and to strive for being their best.


BIG Talk was written for two baritone saxophones as a personal response to the repulsive prevalence of rape culture that can be observed in catcalling and sexual harassment that female-identifying persons experience and endure on a daily basis. Many women experience these situations enough to psychologically alter their self-perception and their perception of others in a long-lasting negative way: fear, anger, depression- emotions that seep deeper into the self and permeate deeper into society. 

This unrelenting, churning duo is written to be somewhat of an endurance piece that incorporates all aspects of the body- the muscular ability to play the piece, the wind to power the horn, the focus to see it through... I carefully considered the everyday endurance of a constant barrage of physical and verbal abuse, how we as women bear the brunt of the cultural burden, how we are expected to silently maintain physical and emotional poise to align with many "social graces" and how sick of it I am. How sick of it we are. The piece, the poetry, and the visual components are all linked to send a very clear and targeted message: stop perpetuating rape culture by any and every means necessary.

Due to the specific sound and context of the piece, BIG Talk is only to be performed on Baritone Saxophone. Please do not transpose the music to be performed on anything other than that for which it was written. 

Released February 23, 2018 by People | Places | Records

Baritone Saxophones: 
Shelley Washington
José Antonio Zayas Cabán

José Antonio Zayas Cabán is a D'Addario Performing Artist.

Recorded by Matthew Judd
Mixed and mastered by James Edel



A Kind of Lung was written for a diverse ensemble expressing an experience we all share - breathing together. Commissioned by the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, where I was a fellow in 2017.

Naomi Johnson- flute
Erlan Kasabolotov- Sabyzgy
Hunter Long- Paetzold Contrabass Recorder
Khushbakht Niyozov- Rubab
Sayat Yeshmatov- Dombra
Shannon Reilly Steigerwald- Violin
Nick Photinos- Cello
Nadezda Filippova- Piano
Caitlin Cawley- Percussion / Vibraphone
Kevin Zetina- Percussion / Drum Set

Live performance was from the premiere concert held at Mass MoCa on July 31, 2017.

The Workers' Dreadnought

For Electric Guitar Quartet

Live performance on May 7th, 2017 at Spectrum, New York, NY.


Aaron Garcia
Andrew Noseworthy
Oliver Hickman
Caleb J Abner




The Third Colossus

For Orchestra

Written for and premiered by the New York University Orchestra on May 8, 2017 as part of their annual composer competition. Conducted by Eduardo Leandro. Recorded live in Frederick Loewe Theatre, New York, NY.


Piano + Double Bass + Drum Set + Vibraphone

Written for and premiered by Bearthoven at NYU Steinhardt, April 3rd, 2017.

Karl Larson, piano
Pat Swoboda, double bass
Matt Evans, vibraphone and drum set

Recorded live by Aaron Garcia


Solo Baritone Saxophone

Inspired by some of my favorite licks that Charles Mingus ever wrote, this solo baritone saxophone piece is meant to swing hard.

Mingus wrote and performed some of the most influential jazz music in our history, and his library of repertoire spans an enormous breadth and depth of emotions. The passion, the rage, the soul, the fiery energy. Mingus was a man possessed. This piece serves to be my own small reflection in tribute to the "Angry Man of Jazz."

Live world premiere performed by me, Shelley Washington, in November of 2016.


For String Quartet using Voice + Body Percussion

Live premiere by the Schiele Quartet :

Molly Anronson
Mujan Hosseinzadeh
Michelle Painter
Adrianne Munden-Dixon

November 4th, 2016 in New York City. All text (lyrics and poetry) written by Shelley Washington.


For String Quartet

Written for my family who I love so much. 

World premiere by JACK Quartet in New York City, Spring 2016.