Friday, March 31, 2017

Kenken's presentation

John Williams – music for brass
National brass ensemble--  I liked the tuba lines in the middle of the piece. Very easy to listen to sounded tonal. I liked the different contrasting sections. Virtuosic writing for all the instruments. This is on the CD they recorded in Sonoma in 2014. 

Jan Koetsier - was a guitarist but wrote a brass symphony. Whoa. 

Ten things

n  Rondo -- played by an all female brass ensemble. reminds me a little of the Bourme sextet in way there moving individual lines create polyphony and harmony. It sounded romantic at times, and then would give way to more contemporary harmonies. 

Luminosity- Di Lorenzo 

Reminded me of Star wars. 
Copland sounding line in the horn during middle section. Very open sounding? A mix of Ewazen and Copland? 
Messiah College Brass Choir? Luminosity, 

Brass Quintet 
Gaelic Variations -- John Cheetum 
Faculty brass quintet IUP
folk song, opening reminds me of Lord of the rings. 
The middle section sounds like they are playing an articulation game that I use to play in Axiom. We would play Bach Chorales but each note was played staccatissimo. 

Really enjoyed the immitative texture between the tuba and rest of the ensemble in another section. 
The work as a whole is 14 minutes in one movement. 

In the Bleak MidWinter 
IUP Brass quintet

Very cool arrangement. I played an arrangement of this in Axiom Brass that a little more traditional. I like the contrapuntal lines that were added. I liked that the lines became more active as the piece went on. Also the staccato muted trumpet in the middle was a interesting addtion. 

Poopy Pants Blues Adam Rapa

written by Adam Rapa in a very short period of time. 
released in 2006 on the alblum life on the road. 
The vocal effects in the beginning do sound like they are produced with an instrument. Also it sounds like there was a trombone in the mix, but apparently is was all just trumpet ensemble. 

Tuba quartet- Riverbottom Quartet
Calypso by Adam Rappa
"party piece"
sounds like la bamba and Mario brothers
has that steel drum quality to it. 

Crooked Dance -David Sampson 
Maryland Brass trio

Sounds like a Sampson work in that the harmonies are tonal but are not operating in the traditional harmonic progressions. Also the tempo changes from 3/4 to in 1 feel at to the crooked dance like feel. Sounds more like a march than a dance. 

Extreme Makeover  for brass band. 

Black Dyke Brass Band. 
Harrisons Dream Peter Grahm
written for navy personal that passed in ship accident(s)
Cory Band

Anna Marshall's class listening presentation

Kerry Turner- Casbah of Tetouan (1990) 

Horn Quintet

American Horn Quartet 1991

David Johnson
Charles Putnam
Kerry Turner
Geoffrey Winter

I knew this piece from playing the brass quintet version at Roosevelt University. This piece is really fun to play, and the different scenes depict a busy middle eastern market. We hear a lot of modal scales to give it that gypsy flavor. The horn arrangement works very well. I love the auxiliary percussion effects, and they are a lot of fun to play. When I did this piece at Roosevelt I had to do the whistles during the horn cadenza-ish type solo. It was always a great time.


Stven Snowden - Take This Hammer (2008)

Tuba euphonium Quartet

Sotto Voce Quartet

Demondrae Thurman- Euphonium
Mark Carlson- Euphonium
Nat McIntosh- Tuba
Mike Forbes - Tuba

quote from Snowden ( I wanted to address the working-class roles that these instruments often occupy in large ensembles and how this character trait could be brought to life in a chamber setting.)

This piece start out sounding very nice and traditional and than launches into a rhythmic section that sounded like it was utilizing someone slapping their mouthpiece while the euphonium players used false tones. This piece is very hip sounding and not your daddy's euph quartet piece.


Lennon and Mccartney Penny Lane Arr. Chhristopher Dedrick

Brass Quintet
Live Performance 2013 Canadian Brass

Caleb Hudson
Chris Coletti
Eric Reed
Achilles Liarmakopolulos
Chuck Daellenback

I love the extended piccolo solo arrangement, and it doesn't get much better than hearing Caleb Hudson nail the solo. He is one of my favorite trumpet players right now, and his video of himself playing unaccompanied bach on youtube is mind blowing. Also Achilles on trombone is a force or nature. This group often gets pigeonholed as a group that goes for the entertaining value over artistry, but as far as talent goes this is it for me.


Jean-Francois Michel Suite Pour Trompette, Cor et Trombone (1994)

I. Overture
II. Nocturne
III. Allegro

brass trio

uncommon ground CD 2014
Amy Schendel- Trumpet
Bernhard Scully- Horn
Todd Schendel- Trombone

The more I listen to brass trio music the less I find myself enjoying it. However, this piece I find really interesting. I like the open horn solo at the beginning and the way the instruments are introduced one at a time.

 Nocturne- is a really beautiful movement.

I like the rythmic energy of the mixed meters

James Horner Arr. Richard Bissill- Titanic Fntasy (1998-2004)

Horn ensemble
Vienna Horns, CD 2004
Vienna Horn Ensemble

This piece is a fun one to listen to, and brings back memories of seeing the movie in the theater. It does ride the line of being a little cheesy at times, but overall manages to capture the beauty of the pieces that were played in the movie. Listening to horn ensemble play "My Heart Will Go On" just seems a little silly at times.

John Williams -- Music For Brass 2014

National Brass Ensemble

I was at the the concert that this piece was premiered on. This ensemble is the most exciting brass ensemble to watch and listen too. Last fall I was able to sit in on a discussion with Micheal Sachs one of the trumpet players in this group and it was great hearing him talk about his experiences with this group. This is music making by the greatest brass players in the world who are also having a great time. I think that enthusiasm for playing in this group comes though in the way the play together. Sachs mentioned that he is trying to get more projects for this group, but schedules and money are big obstacles. The John Williams piece I think it fun to listen to with a lot of angular melodies and rhythmic motives. It was fun to hear this in Chicago because it was a nice contrast to the mostly Gabrelli heavy program. Speaking of which, think about how crazy it would be if someone invented a time machine, went back in time, kidnapped Gabrielli and than brought him to that concert. How different his music must have sounded in the 1600's being played on sacbut and conetti.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Victor Ewald and his Brass Quintets

This blog post is a little over due, and is in response to a class listening we did on Ewald's brass quintets. In class we listened to the Atlantic Brass Quintet's recording of his 3rd quintet. More on that later. For now here are my responses to the questioned posed.

  • What did you know about Ewald and his brass quintet before reading this article? 
I actually new a considerable amount about Ewald from playing in Axiom. We played his 3rd quintet on almost every "New Standards" concert we presented. We always introduced him as a civil engineer and ammeter musician. However, I think the way we think about an amateur musician these days fall far short of the musical talent Ewald clearly possed. 
  • What did this article teach you about proper research?
This article points out, that like many research projects, the information being gathered, may not be all the relevant information available and or necessary. This appears to be the case with Ewald's first brass quintet, that was thought for a long period to have originally been written for strings, and later transcribed for brass quintet, when in fact it was the opposite. 
  • What questions did this article raise?
This article raises the question of weather or not Victor Ewald was the original pioneer of brass quintet. This was long thought to be the case until the quintets of Bellon were discovered to predate Ewald's by sixty years!
  • What are your thoughts on rotary vs. piston valve preferences mentioned in the article?
 I think it is interesting that this conversation that started in the early 19th century is still very much continuing to this day. During Axiom we experimented on a lot of the pieces we played with having the trumpets play rotatory horn and piston horns. The general thought was the rotary lent itself to a more lyrical approach which pistons were better for more articulated passages, modern works, and virtuosic playing. 
  • Do you agree with Forsyth who wrote, "There is in general no true legato on the trombone?"
In a word, No. But, this is again a conversation that as a trombonist I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking about. Studying with Friedman in Chicago was a real trip into the world of trombone legato. The way that he teaches it and demonstrates in the hall each week is the smoothest legato playing I have ever heard on trombone. I don't think it's a coincidence that his favorite trombone players were Tommey Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Bill Nash and other jazz trombonists that had smoother legato approaches than classical musicians in the 50's and 60's. 
  • What are your thoughts about Smith's ideas on instrumentation mentioned on page 13.
 I think Smith's ideas seem a little outdated for the times. The level of brass players today I would argue (with bias of course) is on par with that of our piano and string playing colleagues. Therefore, I believe we need to look at the music with fresh eyes and use the instrumentation that sounds the best, not the instrumentation that we think would have been used. 

  • In regards to the modern revival of Ewald's brass quintets, what roles did the following people play? Froides Werke, the American Brass Quintet, the Empire Brass Quintet?
According to this article Froides Werke gave the brass quintets to the Empire Brass Quintet in Norway as a trade off for some Gershwin tunes. The American Brass Quintet was the first quintet to premiere these works in America with program notes by Smith. 
  • What has been your experience both playing and listening to the Ewald quintets?
In 2010 when I didn't know anything about chamber music a friend gave me the Center City Brass Quintet CD's. On one of the CD's they play Ewald 3 and I the piece blew my mind. I loved the lyrical second movement. While in Axiom Brass from 2012-2014 we played Ewald 3 continuously. I love the Ewald pieces because there is so much room for interpretation on all levels. In Axiom we constantly played around with tempo pacing and dynamics. Routinely I would get into heated discussions with my colleagues because I always wanted us to play it like Center City Brass, and they had the American Brass Quintet in mind. Listen to the way they each approach the second movement and you will see what I mean. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bohme Sextet

A few weeks ago in class we listened to the Bohme Trompeten Sextett. This piece was written in 1907 by Oscar Bohme. Bohme was was born in a small town near Dresden and his father was also a trumpeter. After attending music school in Leipzig Bohme had a long career as a trumpeter in a variety of ensembles including the Budapest Opera from 1894-1896, followed by twenty four years playing in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.

This piece was written in the romantic style popular in Russia at the time. It is one of the only original Romantic works for brass ensemble. When I played in Axiom we played a lot of music by Ewald, and we on occasion referred to him Bohme lite. There is something about this particular piece that really exploits the rich sounds of brass that in my opinion, Ewald was unable to do.

The instrumentation of the sextett is very interesting to me. It specifies a solo cornet part, two trumpets, alto horn, tenor horn, and baritone. In modern performances it is common for the alto horn part to be played on french horn, the tenor horn on trombone, and the baritone part on tuba. While in Axiom we played this piece at the Tanglewood summer festival in the Berkshires with Boston Symphony trumpeter Mike Martin playing the solo cornet part. We also decided to use a radically different instrumentation than most ensembles. We used cornet, trumpet, flugel horn, french horn, euphonium, and tuba. We liked the idea of having the bottom four voices playing conical instruments and thought the sound of this instrumentation was less bright and more rounded which suited the style of the music. I still have a recording of that performance if anyone ever wants to hear it. Just let me know.

I thought the Atlantic Brass Quintets recording of this piece was fantastic. I spent a lot of my undergrad years listening to the Center City Brass Quintets recording and always have that in my head when I hear this piece. It was nice to hear a different recording with different ideas that were really well done.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Brass Band Traditions

Today in class we had a guest lecture from Arfen Owen a professional tenor horn player in the Black Dyke Band and currently living in Norway, come and lectured on the origins of British Brass Bands and shared some of the music of that tradition.

He stated that brass bands became popular after the industrial revelation due to the advanced machining that could turn out higher quality instruments at lower prices.

It was also mentioned that brass bands were a way for the blue collar workers to get together after their work shift ended and do something with their time other than sit around a pub and drink all evening. In addition, the companies that these men worked for saw a chance to use the local brass band to advertise for their businesses.

One of the pieces that I really enjoyed hearing in class today was call Extreme Makeover by Johan De Meij. I loved the use of glass bottles, and the overall affects of the textures of this piece. It starts as kind of a transcription of a Tchaikovsky String quartet and then erupts into an all out virtuoisc affair for brass band. It is highly enjoyable to listen to.