INSIDE THE BRASS QUINTET GUIDE PROJECT

The Full Story

When I got into music school and had to put together a brass quintet for chamber music credit, I struggled trying to choose our repertoire. As a freshman international student transferring from Brazil, I had a limited knowledge about brass quintet music aside from Brazilian composers and the Ewald quintets. To begin my research of becoming familiar with the standard repertoire for this ensemble, I listened to as many brass quintet CDs as possible; Canadian Brass, Center City Brass Quintet, and American Brass Quintet were on the top of my list. I would decide on a piece I liked and find out later that it was not published, too difficult, out of our range, or impossible to find. It was not until my Doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) that the idea of writing a brass quintet repertoire came to me. 

The first step of this project was to delimitate my research area. When choosing repertoire, brass quintet groups can select from three different sources: transcriptions, arrangements or original works. Writing a guide for this large body of music would certainly be a lifetime task and it is not what I intended for this project. Thus I decide to focus only on music that was originally composed for this ensemble and music that is published.

 

The second stage was to identify works that are considered standard repertoire. It seemed fitting that I write a survey form and send it to many highly regarded professional brass players (with experience in brass chamber music), asking what they would consider to be their choice as the top, most influential, original published works for brass quintet. My first expectation was to have the approximate length of surveying to be around thirty days, unfortunately that did not go as planned. It took seven months, over one thousand emails, and going to an International Trumpet Conference to pass my surveys to finally reach my goal of one hundred responses. Despite the wait, I received responses from current or former members of the New York Brass Quintet, American Brass Quintet, Canadian Brass, Center City Brass Quintet, Chestnut Brass Quintet, and Empire Brass. After collecting the data, I have acquired a list of thirty works that were the most often chosen and are part of this guide. 

©2020 BY NAIRAM SIMOES

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