Daniel Schnyder’s Trio for Trumpet, French Horn, and Trombone

In a post last week I mentioned that the Chamber Arts Brass Trio would be performing this weekend at the Big XII Trombone Conference in Lubbock, TX.  We’ll be playing a short program with lots of variety, including original and arranged works for brass trio.  One of the most interesting (and most difficult) pieces on the program is Daniel Schnyder’s Trio for Trumpet, French Horn, and Trombone.  Schnyder (pronounced “Schnee-dur,” I believe) has written several pieces with horn, and is a composer worth checking out if you don’t know his music.  Several well known soloists, including David Jolley and Adam Unsworth, have recorded his works.  Composed in 1996, his brass trio is very rewarding, but also quite challenging, to perform.  Schnyder makes use of the full range and technical capabilities of each instrument – the work can be performed on tenor or bass trombone, and flugel horn is also called for in some movements.  All three parts require extended techniques, with the most “special effects” being required of the trombonist.  The first movement doesn’t contain many extended techniques for the horn, but as you can see from the passage below, does require some pretty solid technique.  The tempo marking is quarter note = ca. 120. [All excerpts taken from Daniel Schnyder’s Trio for Trumpet, French Horn, and Trombone, published in 1996 by Editions Marc Reift, Crans-Montana (Switzerland)]

The second movement is attacca (as are the other movements), and can be quite challenging to put together because of the sudden tempo shifts, as seen in the excerpt below.  The range and overall technique required in this movement are also noteworthy.  Notice the vertical slashes over the beats – these were very helpful to me in sorting out the rhythms.

Although rhythmically and technically complex, the third movement almost has the flavor of pop or rock music, especially in the repeating riff that the horn and trombone play (see example).

This passage is actually easier than it looks, once the syncopations and leaps have been worked out at a slow tempo. For me, the real key to pulling off this part is just relaxing and settling into the groove.

The fourth movement is very straightforward, and makes for a wonderful contrast after the fireworks which precede it.  The fifth movement is notated without a meter, although dashed bar lines imply where the strong and weak beats are.  All three parts are identical, and are played in octaves.  Notice the unusual note values and the quarter-tone marking over the g-flat.

We’ve spent several months putting the trio together, and I’m sure our hard work will pay off in the performance.  If you are interested in a challenging but very fun piece for brass trio, consider programming this work.  You can also find an excellent recording of this trio by visiting Adam Unsworth’s website.

Happy 2011 and an Inspiring Story

Although there are still a few days left before my semester begins, I am officially cranking the blog back up for 2011!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best in your endeavors for this year.  2011 promises to be an exciting and busy year, with a number of horn-related activities in the works.  Here’s a brief summary of some upcoming events, through the month of March.

January 15: Chamber Arts Brass Trio performance at the Big XII Trombone Conference, Texas Tech University

February 19: Horn Quartet Performance at Northwestern State University of Louisiana

February 22: Chamber Arts Brass Trio Recital

March 4-6: Southeast Horn Workshop, Appalachian State University

March 22: Faculty Recital, Music for Horn and Guitar

Additional performances with the Monroe and Rapides Symphony Orchestras.

I’ll be posting more about these events in the future, but two events which I’m particularly excited about are the Southeast Horn Workshop, where I’ll be performing a newly written piece for solo horn by William Withem, an old college classmate, and now an established composer.  Later that month I’ll be collaborating with guitarist Daniel Sumner for a recital of music for horn and guitar.  Horn and guitar is an unusual combination, and there is some really cool music for this instrumentation.  We also hope to premier on this recital a new piece for horn, guitar, and piano by Mel Mobley, Associate Professor of Theory and Composition at ULM.

To close out this first post of 2011 I’ll share an inspiring story I recently heard about on NPR.  The story, titled “Amid Unrest, Juarez Symphony Orchestra Plays On,” opens with this line.

It’s been a rough couple of years in Juarez. Known as the murder capital of Mexico, Juarez is plagued by drug-related violence and organized crime. A quarter of the population is estimated to have fled, and thousands of businesses have closed. This year, the city even canceled its Independence Day celebration for the first time ever.

But the Juarez Symphony Orchestra plays on to grateful audiences that choose violins as a refuge from violence.

The article is well written, and yet another testament to the power of the arts to uplift and empower in even the most difficult of situations.

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