3411 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL

Nevermore Performance Space
Gaudete Brass Quintet

Gaudete Brass Quintet

Sunday, May 22, 7:00 pm CST

Nevermore Chamber Music Festival

The Gaudete Brass is made up of five musicians who believe strongly in the expressive and communicative power of brass chamber music. Since 2004 the quintet has engaged in creatively expanding the brass quintet repertoire, developing unique programs that have resonated with chamber music audiences all over the country.

The group has engaged in live performances at venues such as Symphony Space and Merkin Hall in New York City and Millennium Park in Chicago, commissioned new works from noted composers such as Stacy Garrop, David Sampson, Jonathan Newman, Kile Smith, John Mackey, and Alice Jones, and appeared on radio broadcasts on WFMT in Chicago, WQXR in New York, and Nashville Public Radio. In the 2020-2021 season Gaudete received a grant from Chamber Music America for a series of online concerts broadcast live from our homes using the open source software Jacktrip.

PROGRAM:

Gravity (2020) Anthony Barfield (b. 1983)
Madrigals from Book 2 (1590) Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
1. Intorno a due vermiglie e vaghe labra
2. Non sono in queste rive
3. Tutte le bocche belle
as a fish looks at the sun (2021) Alice Jones (b. 1982)
Variations on Summer Sun (2016) Alonso Pirio (b. 1997)

Intermission

Boundary Lines (2021) Eric Malmquist (b. 1985)
Legends of Olympus (2017) Stacy Garrop (b. 1969)
1. Helios
2. Aphrodite
South Shore, Chicago (2021) Ephraim Champion (b. 1999)

NOTES:

Anthony Barfield’s Gravity is based on the Langston Hughes poem “Dream Deferred.” The poem makes a graphic appeal to all of our senses about the frustration of setting dreams aside and ends with the idea that a deferred dream could “explode.” That energy provides context to the middle section of the work but the question remains unresolved as even the final chord continues to carry the tension the ties the work together.

Claudio Monteverdi is primarily associated with the emergence of opera and baroque music, both of which would transcend the more strict polyphony of the 16th century. In these early madrigals, however, we hear how the transition between the Renaissance and Baroque wasn’t as perhaps as stark as commentators would like to imagine. While still firmly in the older style we see Monteverdi exploring a freedom of musical line and imaginative use of rhythm that would become central in works like Orfeo and his Vespers two decades later. While this music is texted, instrumentalists in the 16th and 17th centuries (especially brass players) would often play vocal parts either with singers or in small chamber music groups, a tradition Gaudete is happy to continue.

Alice Jones offers the following thoughts about as a fish looks at the sun – When I sat down with Gaudete Brass in the spring of 2021 to talk about what this work should be, the weight of the past and the fragility of the future were woven throughout our discussion, as with all artistic conversations I’ve been having in the past year. We talked about musical qualities (transparency and lyricism) and emotional ones (hope, transformation, and rebirth), and this work explores how difficult—or even impossible—holding onto these can be. They slip away almost as soon as we notice them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about multigenerational transformation, especially my frustration at how slow it is, because the process of re-learning our histories that happens over and over for each new generation. There’s a déjà vu quality in a lot of social justice conversations that can wear us down, even as we collectively pull the moral arc of the universe towards justice, a degree at a time.

With these ideas in mind, and with a line stuck in my head from the closing section of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller describing being suddenly plunged under the water, never able to see light in the same way again, this work is composed in three sections. Each section is full of a different flavor of hope, evaporates before it can fulfill its promise, and then regroups to try again with a fresh look at old ideas. The opening horn solo (“fragile but full of hope, like a river flowing under a sheet of ice”) is inspired by the feeling of being utterly dumbstruck at just how nice it is to walk around on one of the first warm days of the year after winter. The middle section (“sparkling and fresh, the wind in your face”) explores the energy of a hope that is directionless and searching for a path forward. Each gesture is earnest but fragmented and out of step with the others. The section blooms with a refracted version of the opening horn melody and a trombone cadenza. The closing section (“carefree, like a pod of dolphins racing a ship”) weaves together gestures and lines from the opening sections into the first moment of full ensemble unison in the piece. Instead of a being definitive moment of triumph, the energy from this big final push fades, like a wave sucked back to sea.

Alonso Pirio called his Variations on Summer Sun a “showcase for some of my musical heritage,” including influences of Spanish Flamenco, Jazz, and possibly Kazumi Totaka’s Mii Channel-Plaza Music and Wii Shop Channel Music. In true chamber music fashion the melody passes around the quintet as it moves through the different stylistic variations but also jumps between the instruments like pointillistic brush strokes within sections. Eric Malmquist writes the following about Boundary Lines – West Ridge is one of Chicago’s seventy-seven official “community areas” – “neighborhoods” to you or me. Bounded on all sides by various streets and avenues, it might seem a little arbitrary to call one side of a line this community, the other side that. Each neighborhood has its own character and charm, however, and Chicago residents love and fiercely defend their neighborhoods and neighbors. West Ridge is no exception, and is a place where people from around the world come together to live and thrive – where a quick trip down Devon Avenue reveals restaurants and shops from every conceivable country and culture. West Ridge is also the site of a historical line – Indian Boundary Park marks the 1816 treaty line dividing the area between the Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi to the north and the United States to the south. Boundary lines can divide people into “us and them.” This piece reflects how boundaries can and should be inclusive rather than exclusive. The music uses very limited materials – two chords, a fragment of melody and an occasional drone – to create colorful and varied textures, just like people coming together in a community.

Stacy Garrop’s Legends of Olympus depicts Greek gods and goddesses who lived on Mount Olympus: Helios, the sun god, who daily pulled the sun across the sky in his golden chariot; and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was born from the froth sea-foam. In Helios we hear the difference between day with the bright trumpets and night with the cool flugelhorn as equal parts of Helios’s journey. In Aphrodite the sea waves come alive carrying the goddess’s theme through a great crescendo.

In 2021 Gaudete began a project asking local Chicago composers to write a short piece celebrating something interesting or unique about their neighborhood. Ephraim Champion wrote about his neighborhood South Shore, Chicago. The work contains six small musical epithets that depict Jackson Park Highlands, Stony Island Avenue, Storm Waves Over Lake Shore Drive, 71st, Jeffrey Plaza, and the J14, Rainbow Beach, and a Wedding at the South Shore Cultural Center. Even though the sections are distinct the work is united by the energy and excitement that flows through all the piece.

About the Quintet
Gaudete is made up of five musicians who believe strongly in the expressive and communicative power of brass chamber music. Since 2004 the quintet has engaged in creatively expanding the brass quintet repertoire, developing unique programs that have resonated with chamber music audiences all over the country.

The group has engaged in live performances at venues such as Symphony Space and Merkin Hall in New York City and Millennium Park in Chicago, commissioned new works from noted composers such as Stacy Garrop, David Sampson, Jonathan Newman, Kile Smith, John Mackey, and Alice Jones, and appeared on radio broadcasts on WFMT in Chicago, WQXR in New York, and Nashville Public Radio. In the 2020-2021 season Gaudete received a grant from Chamber Music America for a series of online concerts broadcast live from our homes using the open source software Jacktrip.

Gaudete has also presented educational programs and concerts at prominent institutions including The Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music, community outreach concerts for the Quad City Arts and the Virginia Arts Festival, and has enjoyed multi-year ensemble-in- residence positions at Carthage College and Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts.

While keeping this rigorous performance schedule, Gaudete has recorded four albums: Brass Outings (2006), winner of the CDBaby Editors’ Choice distinction and nominee for Just Plain Folks Best Classical Chamber Album; Conversations in Time with organist R. Benjamin Dobey (2011, Pro Organa); Chicago Moves, produced by Grammy winner Judith Sherman and featuring several of its commissioned works (2012, Cedille Records) and sevenfive (2017, Cedille Records) featuring five new works commissioned for Chicago’s John Corigliano 75th birthday festival.

Gaudete (gow-day-tay) is a form of the Latin word for “Joy.” We support the idea that chamber music, even (and perhaps especially) the serious kind, can powerfully communicate both the poignant and the exuberant. To learn more about the Gaudete Brass, please visit www.gaudetebrass.com.

Trumpets – Bill Baxtresser and Charles Russell Roberts
Horn – Joanna Schulz Trombone – Paul Von Hoff Tuba – Scott Tegge

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