Symphony for Brass
Large Brass Ensemble with Percussion
Commissioned by the Messiah College Brass Choir and Murray Library at Messiah College
8 trumpets: 1 B piccolo trumpet, 7 trumpets in C (tpt. 3 doubling on flugelhorn) 6 french horns
3 tenor trombones
1 bass trombone
2 euphoniums 3 tubas
timpani + 5 percussion
Percussion includes: Mallets: Vibes, Glockenspiel, Marimba, Xylophone
Triangle, Sus. Cymb. (3 different sizes), a2 Cymb., China Cymbal, Tam-Tam Wood Block, Conga Drum, Bongos, 4 toms, Bass Drum
Tambourine, Snare Drum
Notes from the composer:
Though I have written quite a significant amount of solo and chamber brass music, a hole in my catalog has always been anything for large-scale brass ensemble. I played in a brass ensemble as a young trumpeter, and always enjoyed the experience tremendously. There is almost nothing like the experience of 25 or so brass players, especially when combined with percussion, all breathing together and simultaneously producing large volumes of sound. Therefore, when asked by the Messiah College Brass Choir to compose a new significant work for brass choir, I immediately agreed, excited at the opportunity to try my hand at the repertoire already quite well-represented. The idea was to compose a stand-alone first movement, and to add other movements over time.
The music: The introduction is ominous, with tension built from notes emanating from a unison C#. A four-note motif is first introduced in the french horns, and echoed elsewhere throughout the ensemble. This four-note idea is explored in many aspects throughout the movement: in different keys, upside-down, slower, faster, etc. There is an almost constant dialogue between F# minor, and F Major, with the C# being the main cornerstone for the argument. The bulk of the movement comes in the F Major
allegro – a very energetic tour de force which puts the entire ensemble through its paces. Much of the early tension is resolved through heroic full ensemble sonority on couple of occasions, before a final statement is repeated cementing F Major as the decided key.
I would sincerely like to thank the Messiah College for presenting me with this opportunity, and specifically to Bill Stowman and Mike Harcrow (the opening horns are for you, Mike!), for spearheading the efforts to make this happen!
Jim Stephenson, December 1, 2014