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Brass Works

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Please note that this page contains works that are primarily for brass instruments. For works that incorporate brass among other instruments, please visit the Mixed Chamber Ensembles page.

  • Helios (2011) 4’30” • 2 tpts/flugelhorns, hn, tbn, tba

    YOUTUBE AUDIO

    Excerpt performed by Gaudete Brass Quintet
    From
    Chicago Moves, Cedille Records CDR 90000 136 • Purchase recording
    Available from
    Cedille Records

    COMMISSIONER
    Gaudete Brass Quintet

    ORDERING SCORES
    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41587 • $32.99 • full score and set of parts • click to order
    114-41587M • $19.99 • set of parts • click to order
    114-41587S • $15.99 • full score • click to order
    Sheetmusicplus.com
    PR.114415870 • $32.99 • full score and set of parts • click to order
    PR.11441587M • $19.99 • set of parts • click to order
    PR.11441587S • $15.99 • full score • click to order

    PROGRAM NOTES
    In Greek mythology, Helios was the god of the sun. His head wreathed in light, he daily drove a chariot drawn by four horses (in some tales, the horses are winged; in others, they are made of fire) across the sky. At the end of each day’s journey, he slept in a golden boat that carried him on the Okeanos River (a fresh water stream that encircled the flat earth) back to his rising place. The cyclic journey of Helios is depicted in this short work for brass quintet. The first half is fast-paced and very energetic, while the second half is slow and serene, representing day and night.
    -S.G.

  • Legends of Olympus (2016) 24’ • 2 tpts/flugelhorns, hn, tbn, tba
    Gaudete Brass Quintet has sole recording rights until 6/15/18 for movements 2-4; for movement 5, they have exclusive performance rights until 3/11/19 and sole recording rights until 9/11/19.

    MOVEMENTS

    I. Helios
    II. Aphrodite
    III. Hermes
    IV. Apollo
    V. Dionysus

    COMMISSIONER
    Gaudete Brass Quintet

    PROGRAM NOTES
    In ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is the dwelling place of the gods and goddesses. Legends of Olympus depicts five of these deities.

    Helios is the god of the sun. His head is wreathed in light, and he drives a chariot drawn by four horses across the sky each day. In some tales, these horses are winged; in others, they are made of fire. At the end of each day’s journey, Helios sleeps in a golden boat that carries him on the Okeanos, a freshwater river that encircles the flat earth. Before dawn, the boat brings him back to his palace on Mount Olympus to collect his horses and chariot. Then he starts the journey again.

    Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born from the sea and brought ashore on a wave of foam. She carries herself with the regal bearing of a queen. Each year, her beauty is replenished when she dives into the sea once more.

    Hermes was a merry and mischievous young god with a sharp wit. Zeus, his father, designated Hermes as the messenger between the inhabitants of Olympus and the people on earth. Hermes goes about his errands wearing golden shoes and cap, both adorned by a pair of wings.

    Apollo is the god of music. His brother, Hermes, once played a trick on him by stealing all of Apollo’s cows. To appease Apollo’s anger, Hermes crafted a golden lyre. Apollo was so entranced with this stringed instrument that he traded his entire herd of cows to Hermes for it. In this movement, we hear Apollo picking up his lyre for the first time and strumming it. The brass quintet serves as the lyre, working together to represent the instrument.

    Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, wine, and revelry. He carries a pine-cone tipped staff and wears a crown of ivy leaves. He spends his time teaching mortals the craft of growing grapes and making wine. In this movement, Dionysus arrives at a party bearing wine. The party gets more and more frenzied as the partiers drink and dance the night away.

    Gaudete Brass Quintet originally commissioned Helios in 2011, and subsequently commissioned the rest of the piece.

    -S.G.

  • Road Warrior (2018) 21’ • tpt/piccolo tpt, organ
    Clarion has exclusive performance rights until 11/1/19 and exclusive recording rights until 5/1/20.

    COMMISSIONER

    Clarion Duo

    PROGRAM NOTES
    When Clarion members Keith Benjamin (trumpet), Melody Steed (organ), and I talked over possible topics for a new piece, they discussed their 30+ years of performing together, and how their friendship has helped them through the difficult times in their lives. After a few discussions, I realized that the piece would represent our collective journeys through life, and how we weather what fate throws at us along the way. How do we become survivors, even warriors, on life’s road? During one of our discussions, Keith mentioned the book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. The book was written by Neil Peart, who is well-known as the longtime drummer and lyricist of the band Rush. Peart suffered the heartbreaking loss of his daughter in 1997, followed by his wife ten months later. In an effort to work through the grieving process, Peart did what his wife suggested before she passed: he got onto his motorcycle and hit the open road. Ghost Rider chronicles a year of Peart’s life in which he drove for 55,000 miles, zigzagging his way across Canada, the western portion of the United States, Mexico, and Belize. Peart’s powerful story illustrates how he coped with immense loss and eventually emerged on the other side to once again embrace life.

    I chose three phrases from Peart’s book to serve as the inspiration for the movements in Road Warrior. In the first movement, I am the ghost rider, I imagined the performers to be howling phantoms that are haunting drivers on a nearly deserted highway. Peart often mentioned that he felt haunted by ghosts from the past while on his journey, and sometimes felt like a ghost himself, moving through an immaterial world as he rode from town to town. The second movement, My little baby soul, references Peart’s wording to define his own inner essence that he was trying to protect and nurture while on his journey. In this gentle movement, I capture the innocence and simplicity of a newborn soul. The piece concludes with Are you with me here? In this movement, I depict the performers as they search to find connections to those they have lost, and to those still living. Over the course of his travels, Peart kept up a steady letter correspondence with his close friend Brutus. In one of his first letters, he repeatedly asks Brutus if he is with him in spirit. I found it to be very poignant that while in his self-imposed exile, Peart discovered that he still needed connections to humanity.

    I wish to thank Mr. Peart for granting me permission to use his phrases as the movement titles, and for serving as the inspiration for Road Warrior. Rarely do any of us make it through our lives without being touched by the loss of someone dear to us. I found Peart’s insights into his grieving and recovery process to be insightful, eloquent, and surprisingly comforting. His journey is a touching reminder that with enough fortitude and time, we can work through what fate deals us and continue down our own road of life.

    -S.G.
  • Sanskara (1991) 4’15” • horn (solo)
    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    Click here to email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    Sanskara is a short horn solo written in a romantic style.

    -S.G.
  • Stormy, Husky, Brawling (2016) 6’30” • bass tbn (solo) Enter description here.
    Sun He has sole recording rights until 2/15/19.

    PROGRAM NOTES
    Stormy, Husky, Brawling takes its name from the 4th line of the poem Chicago, written by the American poet Carl Sandburg. Penned in 1916, the city of Chicago served as the heart of the meatpacking and railroad industries. The poem’s lines mingle the dark underbelly of the city (“And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger”) with immense pride felt by its inhabitants (“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and course and strong and cunning”). As a Chicagoan myself, I find much of Sandburg’s unabashed view of the city very appealing and still relevant over a hundred years later, even though the city’s industries have transformed.

    When bass trombonist Sun He commissioned me for a solo trombone piece, he mentioned his deep love for Chicago. He wrote to me in an email: “I remember the first time I walked on the street in Chicago, by the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt, and how I felt the energy of this city almost bring my blood to a boil... I have just so many emotional strings attached to Chicago. Every time I come here, it feels like going home.” Upon reading his words, I knew I had to write a piece that conveyed the beating pulse of the city, as well as its grandeur. Carl Sandburg’s poem became the perfect inspiration to tell the story of the pride Sun He and I have for Chicago.

    Sun He has dedicated Stormy, Husky, Brawling to Jane Addams and the Hull House of Chicago. Ms. Addams (1860-1935) was a distinguished sociologist, social worker, philosopher, and author, who opened the Hull House in 1889. She provided many services to immigrant families at the Hull House, including kindergarten, day care, an employment bureau, and classes in English, citizenship, music, theater, and the arts. Jane Addams believed in living by example, stating, “Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.” She remains a symbol of the American spirit and modern humanity.

    -S.G.
  • The Trumpets at Jericho (2012) 5’30” • 2 tpts, pno Enter description here.
    Commissioned by the Chicago Chamber Musicians

    ORDERING SCORES
    Theodore Presser Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    When the Chicago Chamber Musicians commissioned me to write a new work for trumpeters Barbara Butler and Charlie Geyer, Barbara and Charlie told me about several historical and fictional stories that involved trumpets. One that vividly captured my imagination was the battle of Jericho. In this biblical story, the Israelites cross the Jordan River in their pursuit of the conquest of Canaan; Jericho was the first city in their path. As instructed by God, the Israelites circled the city’s walls once a day for six days, led by blaring trumpets. The Trumpets at Jericho traces the Israelites’ activities on the seventh day, in which they circle the walls seven times and triumphantly bring down the walls amidst trumpet blasts. The piece ends with the trumpets paying tribute to Jericho’s dead.
    -S.G.