Festival of New Trumpet Music to See Premieres by Braxton, Douglas, Huang, Etc. in September

By Kevin Shihoten
August 28, 2007

Now in its fifth year, The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) includes among its 2007 season highlights the premieres of works by Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas and Huang Ruo.

Braxton's Composition 169 for Brass Quintet and Composition 103 for Seven Trumpets will receive their world and New York premieres, respectively, on September 23 at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan. Performing the works are Taylor Ho Bynum, Tim Byrnes, Forbes Graham, Sam Hoyt, John McDonough, Nicole Rampersaud, Reut Regev, Jay Rozen, Mark Taylor and Nate Wooley.

Composition 169 has actually been recorded and performed by ensembles of other configurations, from saxophone quartet to full orchestra; the FONT performance marks its premiere in its original instrumentation. Though Braxton originally wrote 169 for brass quintet (on swivel chairs), he had been unable to find such an ensemble brave enough to take on the formidable piece. The hour-long score is filled with throbbing, complex rhythms and rich, unchanging harmonies. As with much of Braxton's oeuvre, it's also non-classifiable. The composer has described the work as one that "demonstrates staccato line (logic) distribution strategies with intervallic (focused) sub-plane manipulations (interjection) strategies."

Composition 103, written in 1983, was premiered at Wesleyan University on the occasion of Braxton's 60th birthday in 2005. Scored for seven costumed instrumentalists, the 45-minute work has 145 pages of notated music and choreography.

"To experience this work is to enter a universe of sound and movement that gives a demonstration of the beauty of brass music and performance synchronization," The Wesleyan Argus quoted Braxton's composition notes as reading. "To experience this work is to enter a reality context of changing moment focuses and inter-sound relationships that actualizes a state of being for creative discovery." Argus further quoted Braxton as saying the work "explores contemporary brass syntax and what that poses for tri-centric modeling and exploring the trumpet as a conventional instrument and sound source."

On September 16, Huang Ruo's Trumpets in Time of War, commissioned by FONT Music with the assistance of the Greenwall Foundation, receives its premiere at the Manhattan School of Music. The work is scored for three trumpets, bass trombone, string bass, voice and traditional Chinese instruments. The same evening will also see the U.S. premiere of Dave Douglas's Blue Latitudes for chamber orchestra, solo trumpet, bass and percussion.

Douglas, who has been the artistic director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music since 2003, founded FONT in 2002 to promote new trumpet music and provide a platform for rising trumpeters. As the festival's director, he is joined this year by co-curators Bynum, Mark Gould and Jeremy Pelt.

Among other works to be premiered at the two-week festival are those by Laura Andel, Graham, Jason Palmer and Wooley.

The 2007 Festival of New Trumpet Music kicks off on September 15 with a benefit concert at The Center for Improvised Music in Brooklyn. Visit www.fontmusic.org for more information.