composition

Trumpeteria

for Trumpet Ensemble, Cello, Percussion, Organ, and Harp

  • Genre
    Chamber
  • Commissioned by/written for
    James Klages
  • Year completed
    2006
  • Year revised
  • Timing
    38:00
  • Catalog number
    202
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Trumpeteria was begun on June 2, 2006, and completed just before the advent of the New Year on December 31, 2006. Other than the work I jointly composed with my father, (The Proclamation), Trumpetera is my longest work to date taking almost 40 minutes to perform. The title is derived from the idea of a cafeteria, in which one can select whatever food items one likes. Thus, in the present work, the director is free to select any of the movements of the work, and perform them in any order. The composer recommends, however, that if the entire set is performed in order, that a break of a minute or two be observed between the 5th and 6th movements. The 5th movement will form a logical conclusion to the first half of the work. The movements were composed in the order, 9, 1, 3, 2, 7, 4, 6, 5, 10, 8. Half of the movements are for trumpets alone, and the other half incorporate other instruments. Each of the 10 movements of Trumpeteria is designed to show off a different characteristic of the trumpet. Within a largely tonal context, the composer has sought to achieve variety in the work through the use of various effects, mutes and the combination with other instruments. Nevertheless, the pure sound of the trumpet has been the motivation for the work as a whole. It is, in his opinion, a glorious sound, and one which has likely existed longer than that of any other instrument. The first movement is entitled Fanfare to Midland. The pun in the title is somewhat subtle, and is more apparent when the title is spoken aloud. This movement, freely in C Major, is declamatory in style: The midland of the title is also a reference to the locale of the ensemble to which the piece is dedicated. The second movement, Tessitura vagabondaggio (Italian for "wandering tessitura") was chosen because of the name of the faculty cellist at the University of Central Oklahoma, Tess Remi-Schumacher. The word "tessitura" was the only English word that I could think of that utilized Ms. Remi-Schumacher's given name, and since this piece features her instrument, I thought that this appellation was appropriate. This movement is the most subdued of the entire cycle, and does, indeed, feature the solo cello in all of its registers. The six trumpets scored for in this movement are not merely accompanying, however, but provide rhythmic, harmonic and melodic support throughout. The tonality in this piece wanders as much as the tessitura, but it ends in C Major. The third movement, pokes some gentle fun at Charles Ives. His well-known work, The Unanswered Question, has the solo trumpet asking the eternal question of existence. This question remains unanswered at the end of Ives' work. For me, the meaning of life is well expressed in the first question of the Westminster Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Thus, in this work, despite its obvious humor, the composer has sought to express, in part through the vigorously tonal ending, that the question of man's existence has a firm answer, even The Unquestioned Answer, as is stated in the work's title. This piece is scored for solo trumpet and 8 accompanying trumpets. The solo trumpet never plays anything other than the "question" from the Ives work, albeit in sometimes elaborated form, or with octave displacement of the notes and variations in rhythm. After an initial Ivesian response by the other trumpets, the piece turns into a rollicking galop, and concludes with a vigorous and affirming flourish. Muted Enthusiasm, the fourth movement, is a gentle movement with a Siciliana rhythm. Although the mood is relaxed, there are a few surprises thrown in along the way. The work is scored for 12 B flat trumpets, and is predominantly in B flat minor. Movement five is scored for solo trumpet, 8 accompanying trumpets and three percussion (timpani, mallets and unpitched). The solo part is quite virtuosic, and gives rise to the title, My Ace-Trumpet, but the astute observer will also note the outrageous pun in the title, referring to my many frustrated hands of Euchre. This movement is primarily in C minor. The sixth movement, utilizing another horrible pun, is entitled Harp o' Marksmanship. It is scored for harp, 2 solo trumpets in C and 4 accompanying trumpets in B-flat. Cast in A-B-A form, the piece is largely in g minor, and ends quietly. Klagens-Fuge, German for "complaining fugue," has several jokes in it. First of all, the German word Klagens is as close as I could come in finding a German word that was close to Klages, the dedicatee's name. Secondly, the theme of the fugue is taken from the theme of the Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, that I wrote for Dr. Klages back in 2000. This work was premiered at the University of Central Oklahomas by the dedicatee the following year. The theme of both is based on the musical notes in the name "James Klages." The final part of the joke comes in the middle section of the piece, where the listener will hear the best-known "complaining" motive in all of music, the theme of the poor Jew in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated by Ravel. This movement is cast in A minor, and is the only piece in the set intended to be performed by more than one trumpet on each of the four parts. If the seventh movement of the set contains several jokes, no. 8 of the set is a joke from beginning to end. This fact is engendered by the title that occurred to the composer before he began writing the piece (many of the pieces were titled after they were composed). The composer liked the title, The Emperor's New Music so much, that he sought to write a piece of "new" (i.e. avant-garde) music that would make fun of many things that other composers have done in works of similar style. The composer would hasten to mention, however, that he is very fond of many pieces of styllistically-advanced music, even though he himself is rather much entrenched (this piece excepted) in a tonal musical language that he refers to as "free tonality." Nevertheless, many avant-garde pieces are virtually self- parodies, and thus in this work, Canfield has taken that fact just a bit farther. Laughter on the part of the listener is not only tolerated in this piece, but encouraged. The performers are also given license to incorporate other jokes into the piece, as they think of them. The listener will also detect some humor, of a more subtle kind (the last chord excepted) in the 9th piece of the set, Boogie Wookie. This piece, cast in B-flat major, is scored for four cornets, the first of which may be considered a solo part and the other three parts commenting on and reacting to the soloist. The piano part uses boogie-woogie rhythms throughout. (Wookie is used, for no particular reason other than the pun, to allude to the Star Wars character.) The final piece of Trumpeteria is scored for six trumpets (including piccolo and trumpets in D) and organ. Despite the difficulty of finding venues that contain a decent organ to perform such a work, I could not resist writing for this combination, given that it can produce such glorious sounds. The title, He cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet,is my favorite verse of Scripture containing the word "trumpet," and is taken from Job 39:24-25, which reads in full, "With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. When the trumpet sounds, he say, 'Aha!' He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting." The piece is exultant, but with a more introspective middle section that builds to a joyous climax.

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