The world première of James Stephenson’s Burden of Destiny was all that fans of both the composer and the performers could hope for. A somewhat chorale-like piano intro leads to trumpet statements of a long, slow bold melody giving way to an initially tentative, then more confident quick melody in the trumpet. This in turn leads to a noble, broad theme with fanfare-like moments building to a peak. Later we hear quick triplet figuration alternating with a bigger theme growing in breadth and intensity; a busy passage makes the piano work hard to support the trumpet’s broader tune. Towards the end a slow and contemplative passage builds into a broad and noble tune, eventually moving into a positively orchestral (near-) march and a flashy, exciting ending. I liked this work and would love to hear it again please!
Paul Merkelo returned to perform another work that Stephenson had written for him, Fantasie for Trumpet and Piano. Composed in 2005 as an homage to the late Timofei Dokshizer, Stephenson deftly captured the spirit of Russian Romanticism in a lush, waltz-like movement featuring bravura piano playing from Rebecca Wilt. Merkelo dazzled with passages of trumpet gymnastics, a dramatic cadenza, and a tour de force finale brimming with breathtaking virtuosity.
The recital ended wtih James Stephenson's Glimmers of Hope, a work commissioned by Richard Watson in 2005, and performed by him on trumpet with Douglas Major on organ.
In the composer's own words, "Glimmers reflects the plight of an optimist in today's world." Commencing with a series of fanfares that gradually fall off only to rise again, each time a bit higher, this work brings the audience through a series of events that eventually transcend the doubt created by the falling offs and the use of non-chord tones that the composer inserts to create a sense of tension to finally end with an affirmation of the human spirit and the "winning out" of the optimist's spirit.
This was a great, uplifting way to end a long but satisfying recital.
Richard Watson (with Douglas Major, organ) performs "Glimmers of Hope" at ITG, 2007.
La Grande Vitesse trio concertofor trumpet, horn, trombone and piano reduction
Silent Echoes is a unique piece in many ways. First, it was created through a micro-funded commission. This is one of the reasons for the dedication reading "for many." In the summer of 2013, I took a family trip to the Grand Canyon; the first time there for all of us. I suggested the idea to my friends in the trumpet world about writing a piece based on my travels, and many (listed below) signed on.
Then, while hiking a trail at the North Rim, I spotted a fallen log with holes in it, strategically placed so that they resembled notes on a staff. I solicited suggestions from Facebook friends as to what notes they thought were represented. All of those suggestions have been realized in this piece.
However, my impressions of the Grand Canyon were not at all what I thought they might be. Yes, I witnessed the vastness, the grandeur, the colors, and the stillness. But we can't force our experience; our experience comes to us:
As I mentioned, I was there with family: my wife and myself, my parents, my in-laws, and 7 children (including four of my own and three of their friends/cousins). Given that many of the hikes were quite strenuous, there were many times when my wife and I were left alone with the responsibility of the seven children. Unfortunately, much of the hike was consumed with the fear of one of them slipping - with no chance for saving - and falling off the edge. This increased even more with the fact that it was all THEY could talk about. On top of that, my daughter showed me a book at THE GIFT STORE, called "Death at the Canyon", which gave very grim and detailed accounts of every known fatality at the Grand Canyon
over the last several decades. As a composer, my imagination is supposed to run wild, and this was no exception!
Silent Echoes, therefore, is in some way what might be expected: echoes, open "Americana" chords, and harmonies imbued with color. But it is also a prayerful tribute to those whose lives were lost in the blink of an eye, and how terrifying it must have been to have unanswerable calls for help echo through the walls around them. This is the other reason for the dedication: "for many."
The concert concluded with the piece that Stephenson said “started it all,” his Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. Originally commissioned by Richard Stoelzel in 2000, the piece was performed by Matthew Sonneborn, principal trumpeter of the Naples Philharmonic and pianist Rebecca Wilt.
Full of soaring melodies, dazzling virtuosity, and cinematic grandeur, the Sonata is destined to become an instant classic. Sonneborn played with commanding skill, passionate intensity and a gorgeous, rich sound while Wilt filled the unusually large performance hall with dynamic pianism.
The audience rewarded the performers and the composer with an enthusiastic ovation.
Matt Sonneborn performs 'Sonata for Trumpet' at ITG, 2007.
Stephenson also wrote a piece for this duo who gave the world premiere today. Entitled 'Reese’s Piece' (subtitled 'Sound and Fury'), the work began with a lovely trumpet melody accompanied by a rich harmonic palette. The Sound gave way to Fury as the pulse quickened and grew more dissonant. Its opening melodic material was brought back bringing the piece to a restful conclusion.
Reese and Major performed the work as if they’d played it for years. 'Reese’s Piece' is a wonderful new —- and very accessible —- addition to the repertoire. It is, no doubt, enjoyable for performer to play and is certainly a treat for the listener.
Marc Reese and Douglas Major perform "Sound and Fury" at ITG, 2007.
The inspiration is obvious, of course: Haydn's trumpet concerto
is one of the most famous - if not THE most famous -
of all trumpet concertos. As concertos go, it is also one of Haydn's best.
I was worried about doing variations on the theme of his 2nd movement,
as it almost seems blasphemous. On the other hand,why not have a little fun?
It's not like I'm putting anyone's life at stake!
The variations are pretty much in classic cornet-solo form: different meters,
styles, a "fantasia" section in a minor key, and technical wizardry. For the most
part, the harmonies are somewhat traditional as well, with some modern tonal
twists thrown in for good measure.
I originally did these variations for my 2nd volume of "Day-tudes"
(from April, 2010) - and I knew all along that someday I would be adding a piano
accompaniment. I am very happy with the result, and could easily see this being
a rewarding addition to the trumpet repertoire.
Some may choose to do only certain variations as per their level
on the instrument. In any case, I hope these prove to be fun for performer and
listener! Three key options are included, so that the soloist may play
on Bb, C, or Eb trumpet.
Conference host Eric Berlin joined the program to perform [four movements from] Stephenson’s Vignettes for Trumpet and Percussion with Eduardo Leandro on percussion. Each of the . . . movements paired the trumpet with a single percussion instrument. The finale, “Dinner with Andre,” was a particular highlight featuring Berlin’s piccolo pyrotechnics and Leandro’s astonishing tambourine playing.
This charming, witty piece was a big hit with the audience, eliciting infectious applause after many of the individual movements.
Eric Berlin, trumpet, and Eduardo Leandro, percussion, perform "Vignettes for Trumpet and Percussion" at ITG, 2007.
Sonata for French Horn and Pianofor horn and piano
I just came across Muse Art, JSO. I find it to be one of the most intriguing pieces of music I have ever listened to. My musical interests are primarily King Crimson, Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and the artists involved with those projects. I also have over 800 different cds and lps of varying tastes.
I hold this to be one of my best. I always love finding music like this. It is rare. I enjoyed it so much that it stayed in my car stereo for well over a week. I usually get bored after one or two listens. Three you made the grade. Seldom do I listen to a cd as many times in a row as yours.
Jazz Interludefor soprano & piano OR soprano & brass quintet
Oh, once there lived in Kankakee
A handy dandy Yankakee,
A lone and lean and lankakee
He slept without a blankaket,
This rough and ready Yankakee,
The bachelor of Kankakee.
He never used a hankakee,
He jeered at hanky-pankakee;
Indeed, to give a frank account,
He didn't have a bank account.
And yet at times he hankakered
In marriage to be anchachored.
When celibacy rankakles,
One dreams of pretty ankakles.
He took a trip to Waikiki
And wooed a girl named Psycheche,
And now this rugged Yankakee
'S a married man in Kankakee.
Good night, dear friends, and thankakee.
A WIND'S in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels;
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.
Oh I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I'll be going, going, until I meet the tide.
And first I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me'll know I'm there or thereabout.
Oh I am sick of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick,
For windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick;
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels.