Five Miniatures (composed 2015) Christopher Schmitz
Each of these five short movements documents the composer’s impression associated with a particular location in Macon, Georgia. On the surface, listen for depictions of a grand plaza, blinding zephyrs, flowing water, trains, nocturnal “phantoms,” and insect-related anxiety; beyond those depictions lie significant musical connections within and between the movements.
Brass Trio (composed 2014) Alan Schmitz
This work is dedicated to the University of Northern Iowa Faculty Brass Trio (featured performers on this recording). It starts with a technique called “Exordium,” which simply means the players start on the same note and then spread apart to include two and then three different pitches. About half way through the piece, each instrument, in succession, has a solo. The trumpet is featured, for example, with a technique of using the hand to close and open the end of the trumpet (hand mute, basically) to get different sounds and volume changes. After each of the three instruments has had a chance to shine, the piece closes with a shortened version of the opening “exordium” idea.
Reflections (composed 2004) Eric Schmitz
Reflections was commissioned by oboist Kevin May for a student recital at the Eastman School of Music. The title refers to the relationship between the English horn and guitar parts, which are essentially altered “reflections” of each other. Improvised solos on electric guitar and English horn are also featured. I was inspired by some of saxophonist Steve Coleman’s symmetry concepts while writing this piece. Funding for the recording was provided by the SUNY Oswego Provost’s office through a Scholarly and Creative Activities Grant.
Hexachord Fantasy (composed 2013, revised 2015) Alan Schmitz
This piece is built around two hexachords (G A B C D E and Db Eb F Gb Ab), which, when combined, comprise all twelve pitches. Both harmonies and melodies are derived from these hexachords, intended, by the way, as a nod to Guido of Arezzo, though incorporating contemporary applications to his basic scalar concept. In this work, each of the six instruments has a solo made from various 12-tone combinations of the notes in the hexachords. The result is a mixture of tonal and 12-tone music that is intended to be accessible (possibly enjoyable) to most listeners.
Trio (composed 2002) Eric Schmitz
Trio was written to feature three of my favorite instruments: flugelhorn, English horn, and violoncello. It was inspired by Aaron Copland’s beautiful Quiet City (which features trumpet and English horn, accompanied by a string orchestra). The texture is quite transparent throughout and features cadenzas by the English horn and violoncello and an improvised solo by flugelhorn. The piece is dedicated to my dad (Alan Schmitz).Partial funding for the recording was provided by the NYS/UUP Joint Labor-Management Committees.
Rhapsody for Violin and Piano (composed 2015) Christopher Schmitz
Rhapsody presents both technical and lyrical opportunities for each instrument. Quasi-romantic in style, it is essentially a tonal composition (in G minor) that expands upon traditional harmony by means of shifting polychordal relationships.
Published by Opus Music Publishers, Inc. (www.opusmusicpublishers.com)
Big Changes Ahead (composed 2015) Eric Schmitz
Big Changes Ahead was commissioned by Steve Shanley as a composition for big band. It was premiered by his Coe College Jazz Ensemble in Cedar Rapids, IA in February 2015. The trombone quartet version included here was written specifically for Michael Davis in April 2015. The title refers to recent historic developments in the relationship between the United States and Cuba and what the future might hold for Cuba. The piece is meant to be exuberant and optimistic, but also expresses some trepidation. Since 2007, with the support of my institution, I have been fortunate to make periodic trips to Cuba. During my visits, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the amazing wealth of music the island has to offer. This piece incorporates many aspects characteristic of Cuban music, for example: basis on clave rhythmic structure throughout, tumbao-style bass lines, polyrhythm, textural layering, some typical Cuban harmonic progressions and some very extroverted brass playing. Like many Cuban styles, it includes improvisation; in this case, a couple of really exciting trombone solos. The piece also shows the influence of one of my composition mentors, Fred Sturm, who passed a few months before it was written. The recording of this piece is dedicated to his memory. Funding for the recording was provided by the SUNY Oswego Provost’s office through a Scholarly and Creative Activities Grant.
Tango Fantasy (composed 2009) Alan Schmitz
This piece was written at the request of the performers on this recording, to whom it is dedicated. Funding for this composition project came from a Summer Faculty Fellowship from the University of Northern Iowa Graduate College. It was published by Veritas Musica in 2012 (www.veritasmusicapublishing.com). The piece alternates between expressive, lyrical sections and a lively tango that returns several times. The guitar part, in particular, employs a number of techniques, including harmonics, snap pizzicato, muting, and tambora (a loud, percussive slam to the strings near the bridge on the final chord). The overall effect intended is that of an expressive/aggressive modern sounding tango.
The Playful Lark (composed 2012) Christopher Schmitz
The Playful Lark opens a light, three-movement composition for flute, marimba, and piano. This piece features a rolling piano texture over which the flute gleefully frolics and chirps, interrupted only momentarily by a short piano statement. Though the marimba plays a significant role in the complete work, it does not appear until subsequent movements.
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