San Francisco Symphony member Jonathan Ring reports on a new release by The Bay Brass on the Harmonia Mundi label. The CD is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com – Full track listing and additional info below:
The disc features premiere recordings of American works for brass and percussion, including 3 works by John Williams never before recorded:
- SOUND THE BELLS! (Original Version for Brass and Percussion) – Previously Unreleased
Composed on 1993 Memorial Day for brass and percussion, as a wedding gift to the Japanese princess Masako. Premiered during the Japanese tour on June 10, 1993 by the Boston Pops conducted by Williams. After returning from the tour, Williams wrote a new arrangement for large orchestra (available on American Journey), that was premiered shortly after.
- FANFARE FOR A FESTIVE OCCASION– Previously Unreleased
Composed in 1980 for the Boston Civic Orchestra, it was premiered by this ensemble under the baton of Max Hobart on November 14, 1980.
- ALOFT… TO THE ROYAL MASTHEAD! (FANFARE FOR PRINCE PHILIP)– Previously Unreleased
Composed in 1992 for the visit of Prince Philip to Boston, at the request of Boston Symphony patron Frances Fahnstock. Premiered on July 13, 1992 by the Boston Pops conducted by Williams.
Also represented are works by Bruce Broughton, Michael Tilson Thomas, Morten Lauridsen, Kevin Puts and Scott Hiltzik.
The album, recorded at the Skywalker Ranch with Shawn Murphy as engineer, is a hybrid SACD and features 5.1 Surround Sound – it also plays on regular CD players.
Harmonia Mundi SACD HMU807556
- Bruce Broughton: Fanfares
- Bruce Broughton: Marches
- Bruce Broughton: Hymns & Finale
- Scott Hiltzik: Spirals
- Morten Lauridsen: Fanfare for Brass Sextet
- Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium
- Michael Tilson Thomas: Elegy for Brass
- Kevin Puts: Street Song
- John Williams: Sound the Bells!
- John Williams:Fanfare for a Festive Occasion
- John Williams: Aloft… To the Royal Masthead!
The Bay Brass / Alasdair Neale, Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Ward, Jeffrey Budin, Bruce Broughton, Paul Welcomer, Charles Floyd (conductors)
“This project was born of our desire as an ensemble to showcase the wide musical range of recent American works for brass. Several of these pieces were commissioned by The Bay Brass, and all are presented on this recording for the very first time.
In 2001, we approached composer Bruce Broughton with a commission for a ‘tour-de-force’ work for brass and percussion. Fanfares, Marches, Hymns and Finale was completed in 2002 and premiered that year with the composer conducting. About that time it was discovered that there existed several original works for brass by John Williams which had never before been recorded. We were able to find three of these pieces and secure permission to record them with Alasdair Neale conducting. It became clear at that point that we had a recording project on our hands, and so the Broughton and Williams pieces were the first to be recorded in 2004.
The next instalment was to record Michael Tilson Thomas’s Street Song in the version that he had made for large brass ensemble. The Bay Brass had done the US premiere of this version with MTT and we all felt it a perfect fit for this project. With the composer conducting, this piece was recorded in 2007.
The final recordings were done in 2009 with production completed in 2010. We had approached Morten Lauridsen about writing a piece for The Bay Brass, and he responded with Fanfare for Brass Sextet and a brass choir arrangement of his well-known O Magnum Mysterium. Bay Brass members Robert Ward and Jeffrey Budin conducted these works for this recording.
Several members of the ensemble had been playing in an orchestra concert where a work by Kevin Puts was performed. They were impressed, and we later asked Kevin if he would write a piece for The Bay Brass. The result was Elegy, written in memory of a dear friend and benefactor. Bay Brass member Paul Welcomer conducted this piece for this recording. When the San Francisco Symphony performed some orchestral music by Scott Hiltzik, we were impressed with the music’s individuality, energy and swing. We asked him right then if he would write a piece for The Bay Brass, and he delivered Spirals the following year. It was premiered in 2005, and Scott’s friend and collaborator, Charles Floyd, came in to conduct the work for this recording.” Jonathan Ring, Executive Producer The Bay Brass was founded in 1995 and is composed of brass players from the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading performing organisations, including the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera Orchestras.
As a true cooperative, The Bay Brass has no principal players and no music director, rather, its musicians share in all of the responsibilities of the ensemble. In addition, its members also conduct, arrange and compose, allowing for expanded creative opportunities for each musician.