The Lyric Brass Quintet is a resident faculty chamber ensemble that performs regularly in the Regency Concert Series at Pacific Lutheran University. Performers on this album include Zachary Lyman and Matthew Swihart, trumpets, Gina Gillie, horn, Keith Winkle, trombone, and Paul Evans, tuba. The group performs around the Northwest region and is annually involved as performers and master class technicians in the PLU Honor Band festival. The members of the quintet are highly active regionally and nationally as teachers, performers, scholars, and adjudicators. The group is recognized as one of the outstanding chamber music ensembles in the Pacific Northwest.
Shaker Tunes for Brass Quintet was composed by Gwyneth Walker on commission from the Constitution Brass Quintet of Vermont during 1993-94. The concept was to create a suite of five movements based on pre-existent Shaker songs. Each movement would explore, expand upon, or reinterpret the original.The opening "Welcome!" song was sung by the Shakers when they welcomed new members to their communities. The listener might almost hear the joyful grace-notes and trills in the brass instruments as gestures of the Shakers waving to newcomers! "I Will Bow and Be Simple" is a reflective work. The simplicity and reverence of this song is expressed in the opening trumpet solo. The bowing down is heard in modulations to lower, flat-oriented keys in the interior sections. "Followers of the Lamb" is a jovial song which features the tuba. "I Never Did Believe" is the most spiritually-oriented movement in the set. The song speaks of the individual giving up "all for God." The trombone represents the solitary person living within the Shaker community. The familiar "Simple Gifts" is treated here in an especially up-tempo manner, yet with reverence and respect. Shaker Tunes may be performed as an instrumental suite, or, when singers are available, the individual songs may be performed by a small choir before each of the brass variations.
Notes by Gwyneth Walker, used with permission
“The Alcotts” is the third movement of Charles Ives’s famous “Concord” Piano Sonata (1915). In it, Ives depicts Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, the famous New England transcendental writers, philosophers, and educators. The ubiquitous four-note theme from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is prominent here, as it is in all movements of the sonata, and takes on many incarnations throughout this short movement. Consonant hymn-like tunes mingle with crashing dissonances as Ives conveys transcendental ideals through sound. This masterful arrangement for brass quintet is transcribed by Mark Hetzler, professor of trombone at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Notes by Zachary Lyman
David Snow says of his composition Dance Movements for Brass Quintet, “I wrote it to please myself with no particular ensemble in mind.” Composed in 1981, this piece was inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s Agon and has several characteristics in common with the ballet: both are inspired dance works as well as suites with movements that are stylistically distinct from one another. The recurring fanfare in Dance Movements is an intentional imitation of the recurring fanfare of Agon, and like the latter, Dance Movements is written in five sections. However, unlike Stravinsky’s work, none of the movements employ the 12-tone technique. Each movement of Snow’s composition draws upon the practice of subdividing the brass quintet into smaller ensembles and is based upon rhythmic and melodic motives that are manipulated throughout the music. The opening fanfare is stated by two trumpets and recurs twice. The same trumpet fanfare is repeated in the fourth movement with the addition of the horn and is stated once more at the end of the piece in a setting for all five instruments. Interludes featuring the horn, trombone and tuba separate these fanfares.
Notes by Ed Castro, used with permission
As part of a grant awarded by Co-Op Press, Sy Brandon was commissioned to write a work for the Lyric Brass Quintet. The end result, American Vignettes For Brass (2011), is a light-hearted taste of Americana in a series of six movements. The first movement, featuring the first trumpet, is a “Barn Dance” which uses fragments and elaborations of Old Chisholm Trail and Short'nin Bread as the melodic material. It includes fanfare, quartal and tertian harmony, syncopation and call and response idioms. The second movement, “4 A.M. Blues,” features the flugelhorn in what Brandon calls a “third stream” blues: a cross between classical and jazz styles. He states that the music “reflects someone who can't sleep and is contemplating the deep mysteries of life and feels very alone in the world.” “Spirituals” is a tuba feature which draws from the tunes Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen, Cotton Needs Picking, and Every Time I Feel the Spirit. Each melody remains intact while combinations of the three tunes provide a new and unique flavor to the music. The trombone is featured in the fourth movement, “Fiesta,” which is pervaded by a southwest flavor. A lively feel is accomplished by alternating 6/8 and 3/4 meters, by utilizing the bright colors of mutes, and by playing staccato eighth note rhythms. “From Sea to Shining Sea” highlights the horn using material from America the Beautiful. Jazz harmonies color the first section of the movement, while the second half turns into a jazz waltz in minor, using the folk tune as source material. The last movement of the piece, “Harlem Jump,” features each instrument on a solo that is meant to sound improvised but is instead a pre-composed line that focus more on melody and less on chord changes. This fast-paced, high-energy romp ends a colorful celebration of American music for brass quintet.
Notes by Gina Gillie, source material taken from Sy Brandon’s blog with permission