Saturday, September 13, 2008

Guide to the Brass Quintet

I just discovered a great online project created by Dr. James Boldin from The University of Louisiana at Monroe horn brass quintet excerpts.

The Guide to the Brass Quintet is an excellent resource for horn players, highlighting the value of chamber music study, as well as an excellent guide to serious repertoire of the brass quintet.

If you are a horn player, especially one who is striving to form a serious brass quintet to audition for one, this is the resource for you. Nice work Dr. Boldin.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quadre Horn Quartet

Patrick just notified me that Quadre, the ensemble that was the subject of his final project, has posted his interview on their blog:

Patrick Rappleye got in touch with me in April. He is a masters student in horn performance at the University of Iowa. He was asked to put together a presentation on a brass ensemble and he chose us! What follows are the interview questions he sent me along with my answers. You can also see this interview along with other interesting tidbits that involve brass ensembles from around the world by going to Patirck's blog here.

PATRICK: How do you book concerts? Do you have a management service or do it on your own and what are the main difficulties?

DANIEL: QUADRE is a self-managed ensemble. Our strategy for booking concerts is two fold.

First, we have a series of home concerts we produce in the San Francisco Bay Area where we are based. We usually present 3 to 4 home concert series a year. Venues for these series include one or more of the following: performing art centers, community music schools, churches, and private homes. These events give us a chance to regularly connect with our local supporters. They also give us the opportunity to try new things out programmatically.

Second, we set up tours around the country. They usually last from 7-10 days although we were once on the road for a whole month. We find presenters – those that book us for concerts – through booking conferences and associations (Western Arts Alliance, Chamber Music America), our online research of venues in different geographic areas, and our own personal contacts.

Both of these strategies take a great deal of work. We are a nonprofit organization with 4 artists, one paid staff-person (myself), 4 volunteers, and a board of directors made up of 7 citizens from the community. In regards to booking concerts, the volunteers and I construct the tours (contracts, travel), manage the books, and handle the fundraising/development. The board helps ensure the long-term health of the organization and maintain its financial stability. Administratively, the artists organize and decide the programming, contribute potential leads and contacts, and help out as needed (grants, artistic partnerships.)

Of the two strategies above, the first one is contingent on being open to potential partnerships and collaborations. Most of this work is made possible due to revenue from contributed (grants and personal appeals) and earned sources (ticket sales and performance fees.) For the second strategy of tours, most of our revenue comes from performance fees with a little supplemental income coming from merchandise sales (sheet music and CDs).

The main difficulty with both of these core activities is finding the partners and clients to make them possible. After ten years in the business, it is easier although it is still a constant challenge.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Poulenc Brass Trio

Today we began the "Landmark Works" unit of our class, with a listening/score study of Poulenc's Brass Trio. Here are a few quotes from several sources about this piece and its composer:

From ClassicalNet:
"Poulenc behaved like a sophisticated eccentric (he once chatted up a stupefied Cannes bartender about an ingenious harmonic progression he managed to pull off that morning), and the eccentricity not surprisingly showed up in his music. Many have called attention to his split artistic personality, "part monk, part guttersnipe," but really he has many more sides. Like most French composers of his generation, he fell under the influences of Stravinsky and Satie. Yet he doesn't imitate either. You can identify a Poulenc composition immediately with its bright colors, strong, clear rhythms, and gorgeous and novel diatonic harmonies. He is warmer and less intellectual than Stravinsky, more passionate and musically more refined than Satie."
"Francis Poulenc: Shocking the bourgeoisie" from The Timid Soul's Guide to Classical Music by James Reel:

"All right, it's an exaggeration to say that Francis Poulenc was the Sid Vicious of 1920s French art music. But Poulenc and his circle hit the classical music scene with almost the same biting, nihilistic force with which the punk movement slammed into popular music in the 1970s and early '80s.

Both movements were big on
irony and mockery, including self-mockery. The goal was to shock the bourgeoisie, to burn off the sugar coating that music had been collecting in the previous decades. And both movements were absorbed into the mainstream in barely a decade. Francis Poulenc joined a circle of young composers gathered around the eccentric Erik Satie, the famous scribbler of whimsically titled pieces ("Gymnopédies,'' "Vexations'' and the like) with nonsensical comments running through the scores.

Satie's followers opposed the vagueness of Impressionism, the style typified by Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.'' They advocated simplicity and clarity. They also thought emotions should be more restrained than they had been in late 19th century Romantic music, although the Satie set eagerly made exceptions to the rule of restraint for the purposes of satire.

In 1920, a critic dubbed the half-dozen leading members of this circle - Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Germaine, Tailleferre and Louis Durey - "Les Six.''

As a composer, Poulenc was largely self-taught, and one method of self-education is imitation. Many of Poulenc's early works, including a sonata for two clarinets and a
brass trio, mimic the ironic Neoclassicism of Igor Stravinsky."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Empire Brass

The Empire Brass Quintet has had a profound influence on my career, as well as hundreds of their students. In class, some of you have inquired about what they have been up to lately. Here is an excellent review of a recent performance they gave in North Carolina.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Large Brass Ensemble Listening

Today, we heard the following recordings of large brass ensembles:

British Music for Brass by the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble with Howard Snell. More recordings by PJBE here.

We heard the Malcolm Arnold Symphony for Brass.

Brass Festival by the Scandanavian Brass Ensemble. We heard Vagn Holmboe Concerto for Brass Op. 157

Art mentioned the Finnish Music Information Centre which is a a great resource to obtain free music by Finnish composers.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Russian Brass Quintet Music

On Wednesday, we heard most of this recording made by the Montanus Brass Quintet. It contains some numerous significant works for brass quintet by Russian composers, as well as a few transcriptions that work well for quintet.

Hear the CD (allow pop-up for player) or here (hold mouse over notes icon until icon spins)

Here is the track-listing to help you with your research on these composers, works and arrangers:

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