Music for Brass: La Triomphant is a brass showcase that presents repertoire from award winning composer Benjamin Britten, and Enrique Crespo paired alongside classical giants Richard Wagner and the charming Francois Couperin, put together by some of the nation’s finest young brass players.
“I normally have a set list of pre-curated programmes that I will pencil down into this little book whenever I think of a show or when I attend some performances where I will get some ideas. One of these plans is a brass showcase like this one, and I wanted to present something that is not normally done; something unconventional, that I dare say is hardly played or presented in our local scene. It is not really a recital as the concert is only scrapping the tip of the iceberg of what brass repertoires contain,” said horn player Alan Kartik.
“My role is to dig up these brass music, bring likeminded individuals together and present a program that both entertain and educate my audiences.”
The curated programme was not something that Alan and trumpeter Lim An Chun spent a long time discussing. After listening to and exploring many recordings, they shortlisted four pieces of music that they felt feasible, interesting and most importantly something they want to present.
An original work for brass quintet that includes treatments of Ragtime; Bossa Nova; Vals Peruano; Zamba Gaucha; Son de Mexico, Suite Americana is a ‘bucket list’ piece that is challenging but hardly performed. A trumpet trio setup will also perform Fanfare for St Edmundsbury which was written for a ‘Pageant of Magna Carta‘ in the grounds of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds in 1959.
“I also decided to include Siegfried Long Call from Wagner’s opera as that I didn’t want the whole showcase to be a jazz brass quintet or a brass dectet which can be very tiring on the ear. The piece was originally meant for another programme that I’m doing for the Arts House, but that didn’t happen due to the pandemic. I will be performing this work for solo horn in an offstage setting and a different setup so the only way to find out how it will be done is to come for our concert!”
“The piece for brass dectet – La Triomphant, which is also the title of our showcase is a work I discovered while teaching the brass ensemble at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). I thought this respectable piece of work had potential as it was not too difficult, and students and professionals will gain a lot of enjoyment performing this together. Originally written for harpsicord and now arranged for brass, it is surely challenging to bring a French baroque style of playing that is very light and airy. This is in contrast to the standard type of brass repertoire which is usually loud, bombastic and in-your-face,” Alan explained.
For brass musicians in particular, it is not often to come across a dectet performance.
“For the last 6 to 7 years, I don’t remember a single time that I have watched a dectet or small brass ensemble perform. Unlike a brass band which has a wide repertoire and direction of approach, the dectet is a very old art form with its existence dating back to the end of Gabrieli where he has written for trumpets, cornets and trombones in an antiphonal fashion. So essentially, we are bringing forth what already existed in the 1500s, and challenging ourselves to present something that shows a different side of brass instruments in this showcase,” Alan highlighted.
From his personal experience, Alan believes that it is very important for all brass musicians to go and listen to different varieties of brass players and good brass music.
“It is not so much about comparison, but to have an idea of different options of playing or different options of sound, in order to fill your own personal palette with varied colours. If you just stay in your practice room and your own little world to practice, yes that could be good in some aspect but your versatility doesn’t grow because you do not expose yourself to other options or point of views.”
“Our showcase is not trying to convince people to play in a certain style, or adopt a certain way of playing, but more of enjoying the variety and colour of brass instruments and varied repertoire that already exist. Students in the audience especially from the Conservatory and NAFA can also consider these pieces for their exams, recitals and even chamber performances among their peers.”
With this brass showcase, Alan also hopes that audiences find inspiration in performances like this.
“During my earlier days, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful brass players from the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) and Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), who eventually inspired me to pursue a music career. Perhaps, there could be a student in the crowd who feels that this is something they want to do after listening to the performance, and decide to contribute to the growing arts landscape.”
“It is always in my hopes and dreams that young musicians in the audiences gain better interest, and become more motivated to carry on learning their instruments. I hope this brass showcase can inspire the next generation of brass players, so that they can carry the torch and continue to build our arts scene locally and globally.”
Sunday, 7 August 2022
Chamber at the Arts House, 4pm
Available from here
A contributing editor at TBP.