2013 – 2014 Season
Hailed as “the high priests of brass” by Newsweek, “positively breathtaking” by the New York Times, and “of all the brass quintets, the most distinguished” by the American Record Guide, the American Brass Quintet has clearly defined itself among the elite chamber music ensembles of our time. It is the resident brass quintet at the Juilliard School. The American Brass Quintet recently was named the 2013 recipient of Chamber Music America’s highest honor, the Richard J. Bogomolny Award for it significant and lasting contribution. During its 53-year history it has performed throughout the world and in all fifty of the United States. Its discography lists more than 50 recordings. The American Brass Quintet is: Kevin Cobb and Louis Hanzlik, trumpets; Eric Reed, horn; Michael Powell, trombone; and John D. Rojak, bass trombone.
Thomas Morley (1557-1602) (ed. Raymond Mase), Elizabethan Ayres
Osvaldo Lacerda (1927-2011), Quinteto Concertante
David Sampson (b. 1951), Chesapeake
William Lovelock (1899-1986), Miniature Suite
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Three Choral Preludes, Op. 122(arranged by Brian Fennelly)
Joan Tower (b. 1938), Copperwave
3775 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
Harris Concert Hall – University of Memphis
Free parking in the University of Memphis parking lot on the north side of Central Avenue.
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Thomas Morley (1557-1602) (ed. Raymond Mase), Elizabethan Ayres
A Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and student of William Byrd, Thomas Morley was one of the most esteemed musicians of his day. He was organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and active in nearly every genre of English music. Morley was instrumental in the popularity of the Italian madrigal in England at this time, and during the 1590′s, published numerous volumes of his own works and those of Italian madrigalists. In 1601 he compiled and published The Triumphs of Oriana– a collection of twenty-six madrigals by the most illustrious English composers in tribute to Queen Elizabeth I.
Morley’s Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practical Musicke (1597) and Consort Lessons (1599) are considered the best sources of information about sixteenth century musical composition and performance practice. In his Consort Lessons, Morley illustrates the techniques of adapting vocal models for instrumental performance as was commonly done in this period. While best known for his light madrigals and canzonets like Fyer, Fyer! and Good morrow, fair ladies of the May, Morley’s five-part motet Gaude Maria virgo shows him in complete command of a more serious, weighty style. (Note by Raymond Mase)
Osvaldo Lacerda (1927-2011), Quinteto Concertante (1991)
Osvaldo Lacerda graduated from the Carlos Gomez Conservatory of Music in 1960 with studies in piano, harmony and composition with Camargo Guarnieri. In 1963, he received a Guggenheim Foundation grand to study in the U.S. for a year, where he studied composition with Vittorio Giannini and Aaron Copland. He is founder and Artistic Director of three musical societies in São Paulo, and has won many national composition prizes. Mr. Lacerda acknowledges the influence of the work of Brazilian musicologist Mario de Andrade. In addition, he shares a basic philosophy with Ralph Vaughan Williams; their music is written in a national idiom intended to be universally understood. Lacerda’s music attempts to capture the essence of Brazil’s musical soul through the incorporation of its folk and popular music into his own.
Note by the composer: “I had already written a brass quintet in 1977, Fantasia e Rondó, which was very well received and performed by brass performers, including the American Brass Quintet, that played its première in the Inter- American Music Festival in Washington D.C., April 27, 1980. So, in 1990, I decided to compose another brass quintet. Suddenly I had an inspiration: why not a concertante one, with few counterpoints but with beautiful solo melodies, accompanied by good rhythms and harmonies? Thus this work was born.”
It has the following four movements: 1) – CHÓTE ( = Schottisch ) is a Central-European dance that came to Brazil in the XIX th Century. Here it acquired some musical characteristics that make it different from its European model. It is still danced in some parts of this country. The trombone is the soloist. 2) – SCHERZO explores one of the many features of the French horn, the vigor. 3) – SERESTA is a Brazilian serenade that tries to make the bass trombone really sing… 4) – RONDÓ, in an animated tempo, makes the two trumpets recall some features of the beautiful music of our Northeast.
First performance: Quinteto de Metais de São Paulo; October 24, 1991, in Rio de Janeiro.
David Sampson (b. 1951), Chesapeake (2010)
Note by the composer: “My father loved to sail. Whenever possible, my family would head to the nearest body of water, rent a boat and catch the wind. When we moved to Virginia from South Carolina in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay was that body of water. Years later, when a group of guys from my church in Brookside, NJ decided to organize a sailing trip, I signed up immediately excited about returning to my childhood haunts. Chesapeake is a mosaic of the subsequent three sailing trips from Annapolis to St. Michaels, Maryland sprinkled with a healthy dose of nostalgia. It is strongly programmatic with Movement 1 depicting waking up in Annapolis, preparing the boat, motoring out into the Bay and setting sail. Movement 2, Full and By, uses a nautical term which in essence means that the sailing was as good as possible with a strong wind and high visibility. Movement 3, Bloody Point, imagines a long forgotten conflict which occurred on a passing shoreline now occupied by a lighthouse. Movement 4, Crab Claw is an eating establishment in St. Michaels where after a long day of sun and wind, we went to recover with soft shell crabs and a bit too much to drink. Chesapeake was written in 2010 for the American Brass Quintet and is dedicated to my father, Herman Sampson, whose passions were generously shared.”
About the composer: David Sampson (b. 1951, Charlottesville, Virginia) has emerged as one of the truly unique voices of his generation. He was Composer-in-Residence with the Colonial Symphony Orchestra from 1998 through 2007. His major works include The War Prayer for soloists, chorus and orchestra commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and premiered by Princeton Pro Musica; Hommage JFK commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra; Monument commissioned by the Barlow Foundation for the Akron and Memphis symphony orchestras; Turns for Cello and Orchestra commissioned by the Bergen Foundation and cellist Paul Tobias and premiered with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Triptych for trumpet and orchestra commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild and premiered by Raymond Mase at the Aspen Music Festival and with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Dectet commissioned by the Chicago Chamber Musicians; Elements commissioned by the Elements Quartet; Strata commissioned by the NEA and the American Brass Quintet; Jersey Rain commissioned by the NEA and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and premiered by Harmonium and Masterworks Choruses and the Colonial Symphony.
David Sampson has received major grants from the NEA, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Barlow Endowment, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Cary Trust, and the Dodge Foundation, among others. He holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Hunter College, Manhattan School of Music, and the Ecoles d’Art Americaines, where his teachers included Karel Husa, Henri Dutilleux and John Corigliano in composition; and Gerard Schwarz, Gilbert Johnson, Robert Nagel, and Raymond Mase in trumpet. His music is published by Editions BIM, Cantate Press and Redrunner Music. He has served on the Board of the Composers Guild of New Jersey and the Advisory Board of the Bergen Foundation. Currently he is currently Director of Music at the Brookside Community Church in Brookside, New Jersey and a member of the music department at Randolph Middle and High Schools, Randolph, New Jersey.
William Lovelock (1899-1986), Miniature Suite (1967)
It was in Toowoomba, while on an eight-week tour of Australia in 1968, that the ABQ met the English composer William Lovelock. At that time Lovelock was music critic for the Brisbane Courier Mail, having moved to Australia from his native England in 1957 to become Founding Director of the Queensland Conservatorium. Before coming to Australia, Lovelock was a well-established teacher, composer and author of music textbooks in his homeland and had served as the Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of London. Starting with that meeting in Toowoomba, Lovelock and the ABQ developed a wonderful and lasting friendship. He was thrilled with the ABQ’s enthusiasm for his charming and accessible Miniature Suite (composed in 1967 for the Laiton Brass Quintet of Brisbane), and in 1969 surprised the group with a new work written specifically for them, Suite for Brass Instruments. Even though he lived in Australia for over twenty-five years, Lovelock always spoke of himself as an “Englishman living in Brisbane”. His works for brass are in a conservative and refined style, often reminiscent of the wonderful British brass band tradition. (Note by Raymond Mase)
Note by the composer: “The first movement, Prelude, is cheerfully rhythmical. The second is a fairly complex Fugue, serious in feeling. The third movement. Intermezzo, has the instruments muted throughout and is rather elusive in style, acting as a bit of relaxation between the gravity of the Fugue and the rumbustiousness of the Finale.” Miniature Suite can be heard as played by the ABQ on their recent recording Jewels (Summit Records DCD 484)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Three Chorale Preludes, Op. 122 (arranged by Brian Fennelly)
The son of a double-bass player, Brahms began his working life as a pianist working in cafes, theatres, and dancing salons in his native Hamburg. Piano works spanned the whole of his creative life: from the Scherzo, Op. 4, written when he was eighteen, and the three sonatas just a few years later, to the final sets of pieces, Op. 117-119 completed not long before his death. The eleven Chorale Preludes for organ date from 1896 and were written in memory of Clara Schumann. They were published in 1902 and, apart from the gentle Christmas piece, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, are meditations on the last things, as are the composer’s Four Serious Songs and the last piano pieces.
Brahms was looking back in these organ pieces to Bach and beyond and the tradition of Lutheran Hymn tunes that had exerted such an influence upon composition and had made the chorales truly popular religious expressions of Protestantism. The Chorale Prelude reached its peak of development and artistic expression in Bach. Brahms, like Bach, completed his creative life with such music, having been one of the few Romantic composers to revive this art form.
The most Brahmsian elements in these last compositions are the astringent harmony and nervous rhythmic energy. Otherwise these concentrated studies in polyphonic style pay homage to the past and especially the North German organists who were centered in the city of his birth.
Tonight’s transcriptions of three Chorale Preludes were made by Brian Fennelly in memory of friends and colleagues. The first for the artist Barbara Phillips Perle, the second and third for musicologists Edwin Ripin and Gustave Reese, both of whom taught at New York University. (Note by Chris Gekker)
Joan Tower (b. 1938), Copperwave (2006)
Known and admired for her bold and energetic music, Joan Tower is one of America’s most successful and best-known composers of concert music. Her first orchestral work, Sequoia, has remained in the repertoire, with performances by the orchestras of Saint Louis, New York, San Francisco, Minnesota, Tokyo NHK, and Toronto, as well as the National Symphony and London’s Philharmonia. Tower’s tremendously popular five Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by more than 400 different ensembles. Since 1972 Tower has taught at Bard College, where she is Asher Edelman Professor of Music. She is composer-in-residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a title she also held for eight years at the Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. The first woman ever to receive the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Composition (1990), she was inducted in 1998 into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2004 into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
Note by the composer: “The title of the piece is Copperwave. What is means is that copper (in brass) creates a weighty (and heavy) motion and feeling that travels in waves (and circles) throughout the piece. Another more ‘background’ story is that my father was a mining engineer and dealt with copper in some of his jobs in Latin America where the family lived for nine years-hence the ‘conga’ rhythm.”
Copperwave was commissioned for the American Brass Quintet by The Juilliard School for its Centennial Celebration. This commission was supported by the Trust of Francis Goelet. Copperwave is recorded by the American Brass Quintet on Summit Records on the CD State of the Art: The ABQ at 50.
More about The American Brass Quintet
ABQ commissions by Samuel Adler, Bruce Adolphe, Daniel Asia, Jan Bach, Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, Elliott Carter, Jacob Druckman, Eric Ewazen, Anthony Plog, Huang Ruo, Steven Sacco, David Sampson, Gunther Schuller, William Schuman, Joan Tower, Melinda Wagner, and Charles Whittenberg, are considered among the most significant contributions to the modern brass quintet repertoire. In the last five years, the ABQ’s Emerging Composer Commissioning program, supported by a grant from The Jerome Foundation, has brought forth new brass quintets by Gordon Beeferman, Jay Greenberg, Trevor Gureckis, and Shafer Mahoney. In commemoration of the ABQ’s 50th anniversary in 2010, the ABQ released its ninth recording on the Summit label—a double CD of new works written for the ABQ in the last decade called State of the Art—the ABQ at 50.
Equally committed to the promotion of brass chamber music through education, the American Brass Quintet has been in residence at The Juilliard School since 1987 and at the Aspen Music Festival since 1970. Since 2001 the ABQ has offered its expertise in chamber music performance and training with a program of mini-residencies as part of its regular touring season. Designed to offer young groups and individuals an intense chamber music experience over several days, ABQ mini-residencies have been embraced by schools and communities throughout the United States and internationally.