In the fall of 2014, the Composers Collective had the pleasure of hiring a brass quintet for our fall concert. The second performance of our young group, held again at the Opera America Center in Manhattan, was in the more attractive Recital Hall. The musicians performed thirteen brand new pieces to a full house.
One of those was mine, entitled “Shimmer”. I’ve always loved Copland and he was, next to Holst, my favorite writer since I was very young, back when my parents played vinyl records for me and my brother. Its one of the reasons I took up trumpet in third grade. Having never had the chance to write for bass trombone, nor work with a conductor, it was both a challenge and fun.
The program notes:
When thinking of what defines American majesty, what comes to mind is open spaces, a history built on ideals and principles, and human character defined by action. Some of the country’s most beautiful locations are within its natural environs. And in that scene could be a picturesque lake, reflecting in the background tall, forested mountains, the water an imperfect mirror, slightly shimmering.
Horns and trumpets immediately recall the hunt, the battle, or royalty. But in America, without a monarchy the sounding of the horn can represent the celebration of the individual and the rights afforded thereof. Those qualities, simple, just, are what this piece is a reflection of: tonal, stately, and broad in its nature. Melodic lines are sewn thread-like into expansive tutti chords purposefully meant to pay homage to past American composers. The structure has the instrumentation breaking off into duos and trios with parts allowed to shine opposite the full ensemble, then returning again to a whole.