Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ten New Directions for Brass

Gaudete Brass

For one of our upcoming discussions on "Current Topics in Brass Ensemble Literature", we will listen to some of the newest directions in the brass ensemble world. Here are the related links:

1. Lansing McCloskey's What We Do Is Secret a brand-new composition for solo brass quintet and wind ensemble.

2. Meridian Arts Ensemble YouTube demo for their Channel Classics CD called Brink.

3. Gaudete Brass plays Ravel with Theremin
Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis by Maurice Ravel - performed by thereminist, Randy George and the Gaudete Brass Quintet. download video in High Definition at:

Arrangement for brass quintet and voice by Paul Von Hoff. Video produced by Randy George. Recorded on September 2, 2010 in Long Beach, CA.

The theremin was invented in 1919, about five years after Ravel composed this work.
4. YouTube video of a live performance of Alma llanera  by the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble.
The Venezuelan Brass Ensemble came into being in 2003 from Venezuela's state youth orchestra system (FESNOJIV) under the patronage of José Antonio Abreu and Thomas Clamor. This unique, state-sponsored system comprises some 200 children's and young people's orchestras and about 100 music centres, spread all over the country. In the meantime, thanks to this work, numerous successful youth ensembles have emerged. Leading the way is the “Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela”, where most of the members of the “Venezuelan Brass Ensemble” come from.

5. NU Directions Chamber Brass
NU DIRECTIONS CHAMBER BRASS is a contemporary chamber ensemble dedicated to breaking down barriers of musical categories. This rhythmically explosive genre-bending brass and percussion ensemble brings together classical, jazz, and free improvising musicians to combine their talents and form a new innovative brand of chamber music. NDCB is comprised of two trumpets, two trombones, and two percussionists. Each musician offers his or her own voice to create a truly unique sound.
Trumpet artist, composer, and NDCB founder Thomas Madeja created this ensemble in response to a growing need for accessibly presented original sounding contemporary music. This also drives the group’s commitment to education. In a concert setting, master class, or interactive recital, NDCB invites its audience to experience its unique creative process.
There are no limitations in regard to performance venues either. NDCB has performed in such varied institutions as concert halls, schools, salons, museums, churches, and jazz and nightclubs. Audiences from all walks of life continue to be intrigued and stimulated by this truly one of a kind ensemble.
6. New Brass Directions website and their Demo on YouTube
The idea for this brass ensemble came about in the summer of 2010.
The ensemble consists of top musicians from both the classical and jazz scene. This is their realisation of a dream. During concerts, the audience will hear the “classical” brass instruments of the ten piece ensemble, but the musicians will also unite jazz and classical elements, thus explaining the name: 'New Brass Directions' for this forceful musical ensemble. The concerts will offer a lot of diversity, and the visual aspect will also play a part. The audience will be entertained and surprised.
The Belgian composer and jazz trombone player Lode Mertens composed King of Spain for the classical/jazz combination; the British composer and jazztrombone player Mark Nightingale wrote Our House for the same setting. For the classical ten piece ensemble the American composer Stanley Friedman created a Concerto for Brass. Steven Verhaert made an arrangement of Weills Die Dreigroschenoper and Isoldes Tod from Wagners opera. Renowned trumpeter and composer Bert Joris has agreed to compose something for the classical/jazz combination.
The key elements are virtuosity and emotion.
Curious? Please keep an eye on the Media and Agenda pages, for YouTube clips, concert dates or public rehearsals.
7. TILT Brass
"...a Brooklyn-based experimental music organization dedicated to expanding the world of contemporary brass performance by producing innovative concert programs and recording projects, and by commissioning new works for its two ensembles, TILT Creative Brass Band (CBB) and TILT SIXtet (bios below). Since forming in 2003, TILT Brass has presented the work of over 50 composers, including group members and local colleagues, as well as established masters. TILT’s repertoire engages its audience with musical experiences ranging from sonorous soundscapes to the raucous strains of a street band, from freely improvised explorations to the precision and clarity of fully notated chamber music (often combining the latter two within a single work)."
8. Metalofonico a modern brass ensemble
[In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of this group, which is comprised of members of the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the Atlantic Brass Quintet, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.]
9. Performance of Philip Glass' Brass Sextet on YouTube as performed by London Gabrieli Brass
Brass Sextet, composed in 1962/64 for two trumpets, two horns, trombone and tuba, is something of a curiosity. It was written when Philip Glass, after graduating from the Julliard School of Music, was composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Public Schools on a Ford Foundation project. This was several years before he began to become known for the repetitive minimalist techniques which launched him to fame and have enabled him to enter some of the world's leading opera houses.

The Sextet is not listed by Glass now, but it was actually published in England in 1966 by Novello & Co. in their Music for Today Series edited by Geoffrey Bush. The writing shifts rather uneasily from consonance to dissonance but there is plenty of American precedent behind the Hymn, Ballad and gently jazzy Finale.

— Peter Dickinson
10. Billy Childs' Two Elements for Brass Quintet and Piano recorded by the American Brass Quintet. The biography below is from his website. Both of the movements of this work are available on iTunes for .99 each. I will play them in class.
Billy Childs was born in Los Angeles on March 8th, 1957. Having demonstrated an aptitude for piano as early as age six, Childs developed rapidly, and at age sixteen entered the USC-sponsored Community School of the Performing Arts, studying theory with Marienne Uszler and piano with John Weisenfluh. In 1975, he entered USC as a composition major, graduating four years later with a bachelor of music in composition under the tutelage of Robert Linn.

Since then Mr. Childs has received a number of orchestral commissions from, among others: Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Kronos Quartet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the American Brass Quintet, and the Dorian Wind Quintet.

After apprenticing with Freddie Hubbard and J.J. Johnson in the late seventies and early eighties, Childs’ solo jazz recording career began in 1988, when he released Take For Example, This... the first of four critically acclaimed albums on the Windham Hill Jazz label. He followed that album with Twilight Is Upon Us (1989), His April Touch (1992), and Portrait Of A Player (1993). His next album, I’ve Known Rivers on Stretch/GRP (now Stretch/Concord) was released in 1995, followed by The Child Within, released on the Shanachie record label in 1996. Most recently, Mr. Childs has recorded two volumes of jazz/chamber music – Lyric, Vol. 1 (2006) and Autumn: In Moving Pictures, Vol. 2 (2010) – music which is an amalgam of jazz and classical elements, developed with his ensemble through rehearsal, performance, and recording, over the course of ten years.

Thus far, in his career, Childs has garnered ten Grammy nominations and three Grammy awards: two for best instrumental composition (Into the Light from Lyric and The Path Among The Trees from Autumn: In Moving Pictures) and one for best arrangement accompanying a vocalist. In 2009, Childs was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2006 was awarded a Chamber Music America composer’s grant.

As a pianist Childs has recently performed with, among others, Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter, the Ying String Quartet, the American Brass Quintet, and Chris Botti. In January 2010, The Detroit Symphony (Leonard Slatkin conducting) premiered Childs’ Concerto For Violin And Orchestra with Regina Carter as soloist. Upcoming commissions include a new piece for the Ying Quartet and another new work for the Kronos String Quartet.

Class Schedule Revision

Sonus Brass
As I mentioned in class today, I have revised the class schedule for the next few weeks to adapt to the Iowa Brass Quintet tour.

No class next week at all (Monday 4/2 and Wednesday 4/4!) Please use the extra time to catch up on your blogs and final projects.

The next class meeting is Monday 4/9, when we will study the landmark work by Leonard Bernstein, Dance Suite for Brass Quintet.

Wednesday 4/11, Megan S. will be presenting recordings.

Monday 4/16, we will be discussing current brass ensemble topics.

Wednesday 4/18, we will all contribute to a group listening session. Please bring in 5 minutes of music that we haven't yet heard in class.

Monday 4/23,  we will be discussing current brass ensemble topics.

Wednesday 4/25, I will be presenting a listening session.

Monday 4/30 and Wednesday 5/2 are reserved for final presentations. Your assigned dates are below:

Monday 4/30: Nate, Tania, Rachel and Meagan C.
Wednesday 5/2: Shelby, Dave, Megan S. and Adam.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Böhme Sextet

Chicago Chamber Brass

Today we studied the Sextet in E flat minor, Op 30 by Oskar Böhme which was written in 1906.

Here is a link to the Chicago Chamber Musicians page, where you can hear recordings of two live performances. The musicians are:

Barbara Butler, Trumpet
Charles Geyer , Trumpet
Robert Singer , Trumpet
Gail Williams , Horn
James Campbell , Trombone
Gene Pokorny , Tuba

Biography of Oskar Böhme, from Oxford Music Online:

(b Potschappel, nr Dresden, 24 Feb 1870; d ?Chkalov, Ural region, ?1938). German cornettist and composer. He is thought to have trained with his father, Heinrich Wilhelm Böhme (b 1843), a music teacher, and from 1885 he toured as a soloist. From 1894 to 1896 he played in the orchestra at the Royal Hungarian Opera House, Budapest. Between 1896 and 1897 he studied composition with Jadassohn at the Leipzig Conservatory. He then moved to St Petersburg, playing in the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra from 1897 to 1921, teaching in a musical college on Vasilyevskiy Island from 1921 to 1930, and playing in the Leningrad Drama Theatre orchestra from 1930 to 1934. Like many people of German origin, he was banished by Stalin to Chkalov (now Orenburg) and taught at a music school there from 1936 to 1938. The year of his death is uncertain; one eyewitness claims to have seen him at hard labour on the Turkmenian Channel in 1941. He composed 46 known works with opus numbers, including a lavishly Romantic concerto in E minor op.18 for trumpet in A (1899), which has remained in the repertory.

Edward H. Tarr. "Böhme, Oskar." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 19 Mar. 2012 <>.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

On Shelby's Presentation

Today in class, Shelby gave us a presentation on a variety of music; from "Second Line" Jazz and Mnozil Brass to the German Brass and the New Trombone Collective.

In the portion about the tradition of New Orleans Brass Bands and funerals, we learned a lot, but it also raised some questions. Is there a standard, traditional set of rules to an authentic second-line funeral? What are the roles of the key players and do they have titles? What is the significance and history behind the decorative umbrellas carried by processors?

Our study of the New Orleans Brass Band tradition also reminds us of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people, culture and economy of this great and historic city.

Here is a link to a video of a lecture titled Rebuilding the "Land of Dreams": Expressive Culture and New Orleans' Authentic Future given by Nick Spitzer, University of New Orleans, specifically Part 7, the "Second-Line".

From New Orleans Online, here is a link about the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs that sponsor the parades and a link about "Jazz Funerals". Also read Block Parties In Motion: The New Orleans Second Line Parade from

The effects that Hurricane Katrina had on music and the arts is a major topic of study and much discussion. Not only does it include issues of survival and revival, but of the challenges of bureaucracy, government, racial equality, disaster preparedness, and communication. Here is a link to After the deluge: 29 remarkable works inspired by Hurricane Katrina to give you an idea of the broad scope and influence of Katrina and how the sorrow, anger, and grief manifest themselves through the arts.

Listed below are more links related to the topic:
New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village website
Sweet Sounds of Home from the Village Voice
Treme Brass Band: Living and Breathing New Orleans from NPR (be sure to listen to the radio show)

Brass Bands of New Orleans from KnowLA

Selected Books and Article on Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Second Lines from Tulane University