Described as the ensemble that “zaps the myth that classical stuff’s stuffy” (Birmingham News), QUADRE – The Voice of Four Horns began its professional calling in Alabama. It was one of a handful of chamber music ensembles selected for a rural residency by the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America in the 1999-2000 season. Following their successful immersion in Southern society and hospitality, the group stayed together and has remained a serious professional ensemble now based in California.
Quadre has been featured as artists and lecturers with the Manhattan School of Music, Music Academy of the West, the Southeastern Horn Conference, and the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts. Communities as far away as Grand Forks, ND and Dothan, AL have invited Quadre to be featured concerto soloists and the San Francisco Symphony selected Quadre twice to participate in their unique educational outreach program, Adventures In Music.
Quadre continues to be active in commissioning new music for the horn quartet genre. The ensemble also feels passionately about arts education. Their interactive outreach programs for children & adults combine music, choreography and drama in a wonderfully positive musical experience.
Quadre's second CD release, Citrus features the talents of Meredith Brown, Alex Camphouse, Nathan Pawelek, & Daniel Wood. Douglas Hull joined the ensemble for Watkins’ work for 5 horns, ‘Fire in the Hole’.
'Cuadro Cuadrangulos' (Four Quadrangles), began as a single dance, 'Mozambique,' that used Latin American and Afro-Cuban idioms. QUADRE commissioned me to compose 3 more movements after performing 'Mozambique' for several years.
Each of the four pieces evokes the rhythm of the dance for which it is entitled. The most important unifying concept is the African clave, which is akin to the Western idea of meter. One repetition of a clave pattern takes four beats, spanning two measures, and underlies a multiple layering and interweaving of cross-rhythms shared by the four horns. The harmonic and melodic elements of the pieces derive as much from Jazz as they do from modern-day “concert music”.
The 'mozambique' was created in Cuba by Pello el Afrokan in the 1960s and was a development of the 'conga,' a form common to the Cuban Carnaval. The 'son montuno' is based on the earlier 'son,' an original Cuban style developed in the second half of the 19th century. The 'son montuno' later became popularized as the 'mambo.' The 'conga habanera' is a regional subcategory of the 'conga,' that, like the 'mozambique,' uses a rumba clave as its basic rhythm. The last dance, 'Guiro,' is named for the percussion instrument made out of a gourd, which is scraped with a small wooden stick. The rhythm for this last dance is in 6/8 and is a very old African pattern known as a 'bembe,' that is used in religious ceremonies. (David Garner)
'Dama Antañona' is a traditional Venezuelan waltz. Written by the legendary Francisco de Paula Aguirre, it would have originally been performed by a cuatro and harp. In this virtuosic arrangement, José Luis takes advantage of the homogeous sound that four horns can create, while exploring the timbral differences throughout the four-octave range of the instrument.
'Reason to Rhyme' is my expression of the joy, pain, love, sorrow, and silliness we can find ourselves in. The work is loosely based on nursery rhymes of similar names such as 'Running Blind' for 'Three Blind Mice.' More importantly, it represents a boundless optimism that persists in my life, despite whatever emotion may envelope me. The up-beat swing character was a treat to spring on Quadre in 'Nimble & Quick.' 'Running Blind' gave us an opportunity to flex our 20th century technique chops with vocalizations and trills. The meter and tempo changes in 'Tumbling After' had the group in stitches and searching for a straitjacket for me. And 'Rolling Home' was a wonderful way for us to play loud and explore our inner percussionist. My thanks to Quadre for fully realizing this work. (Daniel Wood)
'Shepherd’s Call' was wrought in the seats of an auditorium at a Quadre rehearsal, believe it or not. I used the call and response as a metaphor for our opportunity to communicate with the One who can impart our “Calling” in life. This piece is not merely imitation, but a conversation of new ideas coming together in harmonic agreement. We have to ask ourselves whether we’re responding, or better yet,hearing, or even better still, listening to that call. (Mark Adam Watkins)
'Horn Quartet #1,' my first work for Quadre, represents the raw emotion and sheer enjoyment of life in three movements: 'Jig,' 'Moments,' and 'Landler Outlandish.'
When I think of a jig, I think of a sailor’s dance or some Irish tune with ceaseless energy that seems to get faster and faster, challenging the dancers to keep up, despite the amount of liquor swirling in their blood. My 'Jig' is slower and more stately. It has a simple A-B-A form, and does accelerate at the end, but not to a complete frenzy. It begins with a single horn, growing to a duet, before all four horns join in. A melodious, and almost mournful, middle section gives way to the fast paced ending.
The second movement, 'Moments,' was written as a memorial to the loss of my daughter, Emma, who was stillborn; the “demise” was a simple cord problem. 'Moments' is at times dark and grovely. The horns are plaintive and scored in their lowest registers. When played in ensemble, the resultant blend is muddy and unsettling. Within this backdrop, there are moments of innocence and optimism. Initially, I meant the music to be a song, the lyrics of which came from a Franz Wright poem called “Shaving In the Dark.” As it exists here for horns, no words are needed.
A landler is a slow and stately Austrian dance in triple time, a precursor to the popular Viennese Waltz of the 19th century. My landler is outlandish in that it is much too fast and frantic, and really only slows down to its proper tempo once, when the horns are asked to play in a “drunken manner.” Starting with 75 measures and–with encouragement from the group–lengthening it to 277 measures, it is well worth the ride. (Nathan Pawelek)
'Fire in the Hole' came about as a student piece for a brass quintet at the Henry Mancini Institute. I had one night to put it together, so it could be potentially played for an upcoming concert–deadlines can become a composer’s best friend. The explosive nature of the bold and rhythmic intro made this fun title stick cleanly to the cover page–that and a hilarious batch of nachos we all ate earlier that evening. I liked the piece so much, I re-orchestrated it for Quadre. Or should I say, I liked Quadre so much…either way, it’s a fun romp. (Mark Adam Watkins)
'Fanfare for QUADRE' was commissioned in 2000 right after the group returned from its rural residency in Selma, Alabama. Quadre recorded Christopher Wiggins’ 'Five Miniatures' on its first CD, so the ensemble asked him to write something brilliant for the opening of their concerts. With the open chords at the beginning, emphasis on the instrument’s upper range throughout, and the wonderful rips at the end, brilliant is precisely what they got.