University of Nebraska Brass Quintet to perform commissioned work by Bruce Broughton

The University of Nebraska Brass Quintet rehearse "NeBRASSka"
The University of Nebraska Brass Quintet rehearse "NeBRASSka"

University of Nebraska Brass Quintet to perform commissioned work by Bruce Broughton

17 Mar 2014    

Composer Bruce Boughton
Composer Bruce Boughton

*** The University Faculty Brass Quintet performance on March 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sheldon Gallery Auditorium will be free and open to the public.****

The University of Nebraska Brass Quintet will be performing two works by composer Bruce Broughton, including the premiere of “NeBRASSka,” co-commissioned by the Glenn Korff School of Music and the Lied Center for Performing Arts, at their next concert on Monday, March 17.

Broughton will be on campus to work with composition students in the Glenn Korff School of Music and to conduct a masterclass with the University of Nebraska Brass Quintet.

The University of Nebraska Brass Quintet includes Hixson-Lied Professor Scott Anderson, trombone; Artist-in-Resident K. Craig Bircher, trumpet; Senior Lecturer Craig Fuller, tuba; Professor Alan Mattingly, horn; and Artist-in-Resident Scott Quackenbush, trumpet.

One of the most versatile composers working today, Broughton writes in every medium, from theatrical releases, TV and feature films to the concert stage and computer games. He received an Oscar nomination for his first major film score, “Silverado,” and he has received more than 20 Emmy nominations and won 10, including most recently for HBO’s “Warm Springs.”

“We could not be more excited to welcome Bruce Broughton back to campus to work with our faculty and students,” said Glenn Korff School of Music Director John W. Richmond. “And we are honored at the opportunity to provide the world premiere performance of his most recent brass quintet by our faculty.”

When Broughton was at UNL in 2009, the Quintet played his “Three American Portraits” for him.

“When he heard it again here, he said, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much I liked the piece until I heard it again,’” Anderson said.

That led to conversations with Richmond for the new commissioned piece, which Broughton finished last Fall.

Anderson said the new work, titled “NeBRASSka,” is exciting music.

“The first and third movements, especially, are really exciting,” he said. “They’re complex, but they’re always lyrical. There are lots of composers who write what we call ‘angry brass player music.’ He can do that, but he doesn’t do it very often. The third movement really presses us, technically. The last movement is just a technical tour de force. It pushes all of us to the limit of what we can do on the instruments.”

He especially loves Broughton’s middle movements in his pieces.

“In ‘NeBRASSka’ it starts off slowly and is almost a morning-like intonation of chords,” he said. “Then we move into this really lyric, lush kind of writing. It does remind me of his film writing, but he’s only working with five voices. It works well. Then it moves into a middle section that is considerably up tempo, and then we come back to this lush kind of writing.”

He said Broughton knows how to write for brass.

“His brother is a trombonist, and he has written for brass extensively for his film scores,” Anderson said. “There’s nothing that is not idiomatic to the instruments we’re playing. Everything works, and that’s nice.”

Anderson said the members of the University of Nebraska Brass Quintet are looking forward to Broughton’s visit to UNL to see if their interpretation of the piece is the same as Broughton’s. They have been rehearsing the piece since November.

“It’s exciting for us when he finally gets here and hears us play it to see how close we got to what he had in his mind and what we have in our minds,” he said. “I’ll be interested to know if we got close to what he wants. I think we did.”

In the second half of the concert, the Quintet will perform Broughton’s “Three American Portraits,” which musically represents Napoleon Hill, President Calvin Coolidge and General William Tecumseh Sherman.

“They are programmatic, character pieces,” Anderson said. “I think there are similarities between the two pieces. It’s going to be an exciting concert.”

The Quintet, later this year, plans to record all three of Broughton’s works written for brass quintet, including “NeBRASSka,” “Three American Portraits” and “When a Body Meets a Body” and distribute it via digital download on iTunes and Amazon.com, as well as an HD video recording on YouTube.

“The pieces we’re playing on this recital, no one has recorded them,” Anderson said. “We are going to. It’s our interpretation, and that’s what is exciting to us.”