Over the last half-century, the brass quintet has established itself as the principle instrumentation for brass chamber music. But how many schools--whether large or small, high school or university--always have the students or faculty to put together a brass quintet? Especially, a brass quintet in which all of the members are of equal talent, preparedness, and desire. As the concept of the Northwest Brass evolved, finding music that met all of our criteria led us to address this void in the repertoire.
Our first problem was finding quality music that covered a variety of styles. While we are primarily trained as orchestral musicians, we all enjoy listening to music from many genres and backgrounds. As performers, we want to have quality music that appeals to any demographic. As stated in our mission statement, we want to train versatile, thoughtful musicians who can always choose music that is appropriate for the audience and situation. While there is some jazz- and pop-influenced music available, there is hardly enough quality to structure a full performance.
The second and more daunting problem we encountered was instrumentation flexibility. When this ensemble was only a germ of an idea, we knew that we wanted to be able to tour as any combination of our members. As university professors and active freelancers, there are very few windows throughout the year in which we are able to tour as a brass quartet. Therefore, the ability to mix-and-match our members is essential in allowing us to reach as many schools as we can.
With these two concerns in mind, we are beginning our own line of brass chamber music--the Northwest Brass Modular Music. Each publication in this series will be arranged for multiple instrument groupings, from duos to quintets. As we build our library over the coming year, we plan to have pieces in the genres of pop, jazz, and soundtracks in addition to the more typical brass chamber music.
For example, one of our first completed Modular Music arrangements is a medley of music from the video game series, The Legend of Zelda. Even though it was initially conceived for 8-bit MIDI processor, this music is both cinematic and contrapuntal, lending itself to our arrangements. Click on the link below to view examples of the first page of four different instrumentations for this piece.
For upcoming arrangements, availability, and other information regarding our Modular Music, please email us via the Contact page.