In eighteenth-century Europe, a growing demand for music outside of the aristocracy led to the creation of ticket-based concert series, available to anyone who could afford the steep price. Audience members at these concerts would be treated to a wide variety of music from different performers and composers: symphonies, concerti, arias, and even oratorios. In this program, Mirari creates a modern version of this public concert, featuring music from a large number of styles and genres including both new works and old favorites. To achieve the effect of a larger array of performing musicians, the quintet will borrow many works from outside the standard brass vehicles, including choral, strings, opera, and jazz combo.
The musical journey begins with Canyon Run, a short and energetic piece by Mirari trumpeter Alex Noppe that depicts a car chase through a desert canyon. As a modern fanfare, it is influenced both by contemporary American music and jazz. Mirari then goes back in time with a set of Renaissance works originally for voice. Beginning with the upbeat and metrically complex Revecy venir du printans and moving to a charming set of English madrigals orchestrated by tubist Stephanie Frye, the quintet uses different instrument combinations and mutes to achieve a variety of acoustic colors. Elegy, again by Alex Noppe, was written in 2011 for the memorial service of his grandmother. It presents a musical portrait of a woman who suffered from scoliosis her entire life, bent by the weight of the world but always strong and proud – never broken. The centerpiece of the program is Felix Mendelssohn’s monumental String Quartet No. 1, orchestrated here by the late hornist Verne Reynolds. Actually Mendelssohn’s second but favored work for the string quartet medium, Mirari feels that the contrast between the melodic lyricism of the first and third movements, the delicate Canzonetta of the second, and the tempestuous finale fit the brass quintet just as well, if not better.
Mirari opens the program’s second half with a set of American (both North and South) dances by Enrique Crespo. An upbeat and enthusiastic rag gives way to a whimsical and twisted waltz with Peruvian flair, which requires some audience participation. Hornist Jessie Thoman is featured on a beautiful and powerful arrangement of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera Turandot. Next is music by Eugene Bozza, who lived through many European stylistic periods of the 20th century, as can be heard in his Sonatine for Brass, which pivots gracefully from the pointillism of Stravinsky to the gravitas of Bruckner to the irreverent humor of Satie. The program closes with a set of new works written specifically for Mirari Brass, beginning with movements by David Sisco, which were conceived through detailed conversations with each group member about their backgrounds, personal histories, and musical interests. The final two jazz works are a contrasting set of tunes, beginning with trumpeter Thad Jones’s beautiful ballad A Child Is Born. Written with long, sonorous, but rhythmically insistent lines, it features both Matt Vangjel and Alex Noppe on flugelhorns. Finally, the concert comes to an energetic and thrilling close with the staple tune of the Charles Mingus Big Band, Moanin’. From the very first wild cadenza in the tuba to the raucous and intense ending, every member of the group has improvised solo space in this adaptation of a piece filled with infectious joy.
Works to be performed on the “Public Concert” program include:
Alex Noppe, Canyon Run
Claude Le Jeune (arr. Noppe), Revecy venir du printans
John Wilbye/Thomas Vautor/William Byrd (arr. Stephanie Frye), English madrigals (selected)
Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Verne Reynolds), String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 12
Enrique Crespo, Suite Americana
Giacomo Puccini (arr. Tony Rickard), “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot
Eugene Bozza, Sonatine
David Sisco, New work TBA
Thad Jones (arr. Noppe), A Child Is Born
Charles Mingus (arr. Noppe), Moanin’