The Rejoicing, Allegro Vivace, Bourrée — A Handel Mini-Suite
The Menlo Brass enjoys these gems from George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), combined here to form a Mini-Suite. The first two were written for George I, King of England. Handel was expressly asked by the king to use as many "martial" instruments as possible to celebrate the Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle in 1749, resulting in ♫Music from the Royal Fireworks. The ♫Water Music was written in 1717 for George I's royal procession on the Thames. It was intended to be light, buoyant, and refreshing, and to be played loudly enough to drown out the scatological welcome given to the new king by London's boatmen as they exercised their traditional right of uncensored expression. The ♫Bourrée from "Il pastor fido," a Handel opera, was written in 1712. Handel and brass make a splendid collaboration, as even a king could tell.
Gravé from Sonata "St. Mark"
Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1750) composed the Sonata "Saint Mark" in 1712. It follows the
four-movement pattern of the sonata da chiesa. The title is derived from the Basilica San Marco in Venice, where a
lively tradition of instrumental music had developed as early as the middle of the 16th century. The graceful ♫Gravé is the first movement of the Sonata and is a favorite of ours.
Symphony for Brass, Quintet No. 1, Opus 5
Russian-born Victor Ewald (1860-1935) was not a musician by trade, but an engineer and teacher who had
music as his avocation. In the Russia of the 19th Century, many musicians, including the greatest, were
"amateurs," having another profession in addition to their art. A cellist and hornist, Ewald wrote several brass
quintets for the conical brasses common in his day. Ewald played the cello with the Belayev String Quartet, named after
a famous editor in St. Petersburg. Belayev published this Symphony for Brass in 1912.
Ewald's Quintet recalls the style of Tchaïkovsky in its melancholic key, the
dark tonality of Bb minor, and the 5/4 meter of the second movement. The
♫first movement is in
sonata form. The ♫second movement,
in Gb major and in 5/4, is composed of two adagios around a scherzo. The
♫third movement is a fantasy
built on motives taken from the preceding movements, organized around an arc-like structure ABCBCBA
and coda. The piece finishes with a fanfare in the bright tonality of Bb major.
A Simpler Life — Commissioned by the Menlo Brass Quintet — World Premiere Recording
Christopher Dedrick (b 1947) is an American-Canadian composer, arranger, conductor, singer, and
music producer. He has won three Gemini awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for best original
music scores. While in his teens, Chris was signed to his first recording contract. He began conducting, arranging for,
and recording with many well-known artists. In the early '70's, Chris served in the U.S. Air Force as chief arranger for
the Airmen of Note. Chris is known for his chamber works, jazz pieces, and small symphonic works, a complement to his
success as a songwriter, popular arranger, film, and TV writer.
The Menlo Brass immensely enjoys performing Chris Dedrick's arrangements of pieces, many originally done for
the Canadian Brass. His arrangements provide great beauty through lush harmonies and spare, lucid writing. As a trumpet
player, Chris has an excellent understanding for the capabilities and limitations of brass instruments, enabling him to
score rich harmonies from only five brass.
A Simpler Life was commissioned by and for the Menlo Brass Quintet, and was
completed in May, 2001. Chris created a wonderfully rich texture of
beautiful melodies and harmonies that are both delicate and transparent,
with sweeping lines and exciting emotion. He exposes the warmth of each
player with a relatively simple harmonic backdrop. Recognizing the innate
beauty of simplicity over complexity, Chris reached for the beauty and
natural flexibility of each instrument and the challenges of an intimate and
The composition consists of three movements, providing
vivid visual images. ♫ Mist Rising Mountain starts with solo horn with slight pauses, as if to listen for an echo from the
mountain. The first trumpet follows in that style, which has something of an
Irish ballad at its roots. The overall attitude is wonder and joy.
Hymn has a
chorale nature, as though there is another brass choir or string group
behind the brass quintet, when the timbre and intonation of the chords are
lined up so that the overtones and resultant tones "kick in." The feeling is
inner strength; deep conviction that ironically has within it a kind of prayer for support.
of Waking Dreams has precise rhythmic, metronomic drive, but with the addition of a dance feel.
The Menlo Brass gave the world premiere of A Simpler Life on April 28, 2002.
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The Menlo Brass was engaged to play a concert program for the San Francisco Chapter of
the National Association of Composers, USA (NACUSA), featuring music composed by the NACUSA members for
brass quintet. All of the compositions performed at "The Metal Concert" were written for the
Menlo Brass performance on October 27, 2001. We were honored to work directly with the composers and to
perform the premieres of many great new works. Four of those pieces are included here:
Two for Five for Brass Quintet — World Premiere Recording
Of California Mission Indian descent, Dr. Sondra Clark (b 1941) grew up on government Indian
Schools in the Dakotas. In her early teens, she began winning awards for her
musical talent. Dr. Clark is a graduate of the Juilliard School (BM),
received her Master's from San Jose State University, and a doctorate from
Stanford University. Dr. Clark was a member of the San Jose State University
music faculty for 12 years, serving as a Master's Thesis Advisor for eight
years. Dr. Clark has won over 40 awards for her compositions since she began
composing 10 years ago. She received ASCAP awards for 2001 and 2002. Her
works have been published by Neil Kjos and Hal Leonard, and she is the only
composer to be featured on "The Grand Piano Show" in an hour- long program,
"The Wonderful Piano Music of Sondra Clark."
The first movement,
was written especially for the Menlo Brass Quintet and seeks to celebrate each of the instruments with
solos in a gentle, Poulenc-type humor. The second movement,
♫3+3+4, is also humorous,
but in a more lively, joyous mood. It is written in the unusual meter of 3 + 3 + 4. It is unusual in another
respect, having seen performances under various other names and guises. It has been presented as a mixed ensemble
for woodwinds and strings, duet for piano, harpsichord solo, and as a children's choral work. As you can guess,
Dr. Clark is very fond of these sounds and loves to hear them in new settings.
Speed Trap Blues — World Premiere Recording
I'lana Cotton (b 1946) is a composer, improviser, and pianist who has written extensively for acoustic
chamber ensembles and choral groups. Her work has been performed throughout the US and has won several awards, including
recent awards from ASCAP, the Ernest Bloch Festival, and the California-based Peninsula Community Foundation. She has
often collaborated with artists in visual and theatrical media, and has created several commissions for choreographers
and poets. She holds an M.A. in composition from the University of California at Los Angeles, with undergraduate music
study at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Other studies include north Indian classical vocal technique and
Javanese gamelan. She is currently on the music faculty of the College of San Mateo.
This form really is a 12-bar blues at its most simple harmonically, but altered through its use of hybrid
modal scales, and the number five plays a big role (5/8 time or five-phrased sections). The section titles
do mirror what was happening on Cordilleras Road (the speed trap itself!) the day the composer needed titles.
It's About Time! — World Premiere Recording
Rosemary Barrett Byers (b 1939) has enjoyed a varied career as pianist, conductor, theatrical
director, teacher, composer and arranger. Since completing a Master's degree
in piano performance at Indiana University, she has taught piano, music
history, and musical theater at various colleges and universities in the
Southeast and Midwest, conducted most of the major choral orchestra
literature, and directed numerous musicals and musical revues from dinner
theater to the concert stage. Ms. Byers views her composing as a natural
outgrowth of her other musical activities.
Ms. Byers lives most of the year with her husband and two stray cats in a pueblito near Merida,
Yucatan in Mexico. Shortly before writing this composition, an accident in rural Mexico totaled their car.
Thankfully, the only injuries were to four turkeys, 19 chickens and Rosemary's husband's ego, since he fell asleep
driving. But as a result, she was not able to return home until four days before the submission deadline—so
this piece was indeed "About Time". ♫Downtime is hang time, "bummer" time.
♫Time and Again is about going to a job you hate day after day; and
♫Stop Time is
just a groove.
a madrigal and should inspire visions of English virgins and scampering sheep. And then
♫Time really was Up!
Not Much Doin' — World Premiere Recording
Warner Jepson (b 1929), since graduating from Oberlin
Conservatory, has lived in San Francisco, composing in various media
(acoustic, audio tape, Buchla synthesizer) for musicals, theater, dance,
ballet, film, television, and museum exhibits and openings. Currently, he's
composing chamber music.
♫Not Much Doin' was selected from Warner's Eight Trifles for Brass Quintet, which were originally written for song or film. Not Much Doin' was in KQED's "Ascent," a movie on mountain climbing at Yosemite, and was meant to
emulate a guitarist playing at a campfire. It's laid back and sweet.
Chicken — World Premiere Recording
♫Chicken is a piece Bob Lipton (b 1954) wrote years ago for a rock band. He has arranged it for many
different groups and instrumentations. The title came from the phrase,
"chicken with its head cut off." The Menlo Brass are pleased to feature one
of Bob's many fine compositions on our first recording.
Brass players not only
have shared in a long classical music tradition, we are also an integral
part of a rich Dixieland heritage. Dixieland represents a truly North
American art form that, from its beginning, welcomed brass. It is a style of
improvisation that has grown up in America, superimposing Black/African
music traditions on imported European marches and church music. The essence
of Dixieland, as well as the beauty and emotion of
♫Amazing Grace, have been captured in this arrangement by Luther Henderson. Amazing Grace features
Dan Hallock on cornet.
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Allegretto from Palladio
Welsh-born Karl Jenkins (b 1944) studied composition at the University of
Wales, Cardiff, and in post-graduate work at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He began playing
jazz as a university student, eventually playing venues as diverse as the
Montreux Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall. Palladio was
inspired by the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, whose
hallmarks are mathematical harmony and architectural elements borrowed from
classical antiquity, a philosophy which Jenkins felt reflected his own
attitude to composition. An excerpt from the
♫Allegretto from Palladio has become the musical signature for a popular ad campaign for diamonds that
began in 1995. The brilliant first movement of this baroque style concerto grosso for string orchestra
has been transcribed for the Menlo Brass Quintet by Bob Lipton.
Summertime from Porgy and Bess
George Gershwin (1898-1937) came to music with a burning ambition. He learned the
art of songwriting and by 1919 had his first hit. Gershwin was among the first to
oscillate between the concert hall and the Broadway stage. This artistic
schizophrenia caused the lines to be blurred, at least for the critics,
between the serious and the popular, and Gershwin was never accorded the
respect his talents deserved.
When Gershwin read "Porgy" by DuBose ward, he was taken with the storyline,
and obtained Heyward's permission to put it to music. He relocated to South Carolina for 20 months, studying
African-American music and language patterns for the score. The show premiered in Boston in 1935, and the
response was overwhelmingly positive. Whether Porgy and Bess is an opera or a musical depends upon one's
definition of each, but regardless, it is unquestionably America's most enduring musical drama, as
♫Summertime is its timeless ballad of the South.
Manha de Carnaval (A Day in the Life of a Fool) from Black Orpheus
Luiz Bonfa (1922-2001) was a part of the birth of bossa nova. His haunting
Carnaval swept the world, paving the way for the first Brazilian wave. He cultivated a delicate,
precise classical guitar style, more attuned to the traditional samba rhythm than the bossa nova lilt.
Born near the bay of Guanabara in Rio, Bonfa took up the guitar at 11. He began to work Rio's clubs as a
singer and by 1946, he was appearing on Brazil's Radio Nacional. By 1957, Bonfa was beginning to split
his time between New York City and Rio, as well as writing Brazilian film scores. In 1959, film director
Marcel Camus asked Bonfa to contribute some songs to his film version of the play "Orfeo do Carnaval"
(renamed Black Orpheus for the screen), a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. As the
main theme, Manha de Carnaval became a global pop/jazz/folk standard, one of the most beloved,
recognizable, and glorious pieces of popular music. Bob Lipton arranged the bossa nova classic for the Menlo
Brass because he loved the song and wanted to play it the first time he heard it.
Tonight from West Side Story
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) is America's unique musical talent. He was the
first musician wholly trained in this country to make a worldwide reputation. Bernstein is equally at home on the concert stage and under the hot lights of Broadway. In 1957, West Side Story established his immortality there. This modern, musical Romeo and Juliet constitutes the culmination of the Broadway style. In a poor neighborhood of West Manhattan, two rival gangs of hooligans, the Jets (white Americans) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants), are engaged in conflict. A New Yorker, Tony (alias Romeo), falls in love with Puerto Rican Maria (as his Juliet, the sister of the leader of the Sharks). ♫Tonight is a key moment of drama, as the two gangs prepare for a fight while Tony and Maria sing of their love.
Verano Porteno (Summer in the Port of Buenos Aires)
Often referred to as the originator of the "nuevo tango," Astor
Piazzolla (1921-1992) was an Argentine visionary who endured the wrath of many of his countrymen for
adapting their national dance to his own modern ends. A soulful and accomplished performer on the accordion-like
bandoneon, Piazzolla's many recordings placed him as a leading international composer. Besides his own
hand-picked groups, he recorded with a mix of jazz and classical players in the US.
Porteno (Summer in the Port of Buenos Aires) is one of a set of four pieces about the seasons
of the year. Bob Lipton was drawn to the depth of feeling in the music of stor Piazzolla and adapted this
beautiful piece for the Menlo Brass.
Lew Pollack (1895-1946) was most active during the 1920's and 30's. Pollack
is a member of the Song-writers' Hall of Fame.
♫That's A-Plenty was written in 1914. This piece features a trumpet solo by Ron McWilliams. If you thought that brass could
only play loudly, listen to the quiet section just before the shout near the end — there were no volume
The Stars and Stripes Forever
In late 1896, John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was vacationing Europe when he
received word that the manager of his band, David Blakely, had died suddenly. The band was scheduled to
begin another cross-country tour, and Sousa knew he must return at once to take over. Sousa later recounted,
"Here came one of the most vivid incidents of my career. As the vessel steamed out of the harbor I was pacing
on the deck, absorbed in thoughts of my manager's death and the many duties and decisions which awaited me in
New York. Suddenly, I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense
voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody.
I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down
the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed."
Stars and Stripes Forever was composed on Christmas Day, 1896, and was an immediate success. Sousa's
band played it at almost every concert. It is the Official March of the United States of America. The Menlo
Brass have performed Stars and Stripes as a concert closer or encore for many programs because it is always an
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