Recital in Brass
November 7, 2021

Program Notes:

Feierlicher Einzug
Richard Strauss/arr. Kagarice
Conductor: CDR Adam R. Williamson

Late Romantic/early modern composer Richard Strauss composed Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens (Solemn Entrance of the Knights of the Order of St. John) in 1909. The Order of St. John is a Christian military order that was founded in Jerusalem in 1023 to care for poor, sick, or injured pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land; today, its offshoots exist as a fraternal organization with the primary purpose of aiding the poor and the sick around the world. Strauss composed his fanfare for their investiture ceremonies, scoring the work for a large brass ensemble of fifteen trumpets, four horns, four trombones, two tubas, and timpani. After its early success, Strauss scored a version for full symphony orchestra with organ, and since then it has been rearranged a number of times. This edition was created by Vern Kagarice, longtime professor of trombone at the University of North Texas. 


Elaine M. Ross
Conductor: CDR Adam R. Williamson

Dr. Elaine M. Ross is a collaborative pianist, composer, and music theorist who has held positions at the Colburn Conservatory, Ohio University, Towson University, Morgan State University, and Central Washington University. She has compiled several pedagogical workbooks and maintains research interest in theory pedagogy, instructional approaches, comparison of teaching results for perfect/absolute pitch vs. non-perfect pitch musicians, and other areas. Her compositions have been featured at music conferences and competitions across the world. Flash! fanfare for brass and percussion is a three-minute work that explores changing rhythmic meters, open sonorities, heavily syncopated rhythms, and pyramid effects. The relentless rhythmic drive persists throughout (even while other more lyrical themes emerge) and great accuracy and precision is required of the ensemble. 


Bruckner Etude for Low Brass
Enrique Crespo
Conductor: MUCS Kelly Watkins

Uruguay native Enrique Crespo was a trombonist, arranger, composer, and founding member of the German Brass Ensemble. After studying music and architecture in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, he received a grant to the College of Music in Berlin in 1967 and earned a degree in trombone and composition. His early years as a professional player saw him earn principal trombone positions with the Bamberger Symphoniker and Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart; meanwhile and in subsequent years he maintained and expanded his love and fascination of various musical genres from jazz to folk to popular music. He composed in a mixture of diverse styles, and his extensive knowledge of brass instruments lent him perspective to add new musical scope to individual brass parts. He would use his flexibility to arrange pieces in a number of styles—baroque, classical, jazz, world, and more—especially for the German Brass Ensemble, which became (and still is) one of the most popular and successful brass groups in the world. His Bruckner Etude for Low Brass expands on an earlier career concept; for his EMI Classics production “BACH 300” in 1985, Crespo arranged the music of Bach for his ten-piece ensemble. While those were arrangements of Bach’s music, the Bruckner Etude is an original work composed in the style of Austrian master Anton Bruckner. Crespo emulates Bruckner’s harmonic style, the moods and colors that Bruckner’s music evokes, and the broad dark brass style immediately identifiable as Bruckner’s. Enrique Crespo passed away in December, 2020.

Christopher Rouse

Christopher Rouse was an American composer whose compositional oeuvre included a Requiem, six symphonies, twelve concertos, and numerous other works for chamber ensemble, full orchestra, wind ensemble, and voice. His work earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Music (1993, for his Trombone Concerto) and three Grammy Awards. He passed away in September of 2019. Ku-Ka-Ilimoku was commissioned by the Syracuse Symphony Percussion Ensemble in 1978 and is written for four “multi-percussion” setups using a total of fifty-four percussion instruments.

From the composer: “In Hawaiian mythology, Ku is perhaps the most fundamental and important of gods, occupying a place similar to that of Zeus in Greek mythology or Odin in Norse legend. Ku is manifested in several forms: as Ku-Ka-Ilimoku he represents the god of war. Thus this work for percussion ensemble is best viewed as a savage, propulsive war dance. 

Hawaiian chants are often based on as few as two pitches, and Hawaiian percussion emphasizes short, repetitive patterns. Underlying this surface simplicity is a wealth of subtle rhythmic inflection and variation. Rouse incorporates this diversity to great effect, creating a tightly knit, exhilarating work. Although indigenous instruments are not employed, the timbre of their voices is evoked. The dynamic power of the Western instruments adds an intense level of ferocity to the proceedings.”

Symphony in Brass
Eric Ewazen
Conductor: CWO2 Jeffrey A. Spenner

Eric Ewazen is an American composer and teacher. He studied composition under Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Gunther Schuller, Joseph Schwantner, Warren Benson, and Eugene Kurtz at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. He has been on the faculty at Juilliard since 1980. His compositions have been performed by numerous ensembles and orchestras around the world. He has written extensively for brass, with multiple solo works for each brass instrument. Symphony in Brass, a work for full brass ensemble and percussion, was commissioned in 1991 by the Detroit Chamber Winds and has been featured on multiple recordings. It uses “symphonic” brass instrumentation—four trumpets, four horns, three trombones, euphonium, tuba, and percussion—and follows a three-movement symphonic form. The music is emblematic of Ewazen’s signature style: rich harmonies, nimble yet sweet melodies, and an ability to gather a fuller sound from the ensemble than the instrumentation might suggest.