Book of Brass

Jennifer Higdon composer
Grace-Evangeline Mason composer
Kate Neal composer
Alice Humphries composer
Alan Holley composer

Lyrebird Brass
Joel Brennan trumpet
Rosie Turner trumpet
Carla Blackwood horn
Don Immel trombone
Tim Buzbee tuba

Release Date: August 16, 2024
Catalog #: NV6651
Format: Digital

Lyrebird Brass presents the world premieres of five contemporary brass quintets in BOOK OF BRASS, an album shaking up the scene with an assortment of boundary-pushing works by highly lauded and awarded composers.

Opening with three time GRAMMY® award winner Jennifer Higdon’s Book of Brass, this titular composition can be played and listened to in any order one pleases. From the intense energy of “Ramp Up” to the puzzling, slowly unfolding maze of “Acrostic,” Higdon certainly knows how to sell a story. Alice Humphries is no stranger to puzzlings in Uncertain Meditations, which considers ideas in isolation, reflecting on their vast possibilities. Reflection is at the core of Grace-Evangeline Mason’s poetic As Bronze, too, and found even in Kate Neal’s Fanfare, which, composed during the 2020 lockdown period, challenges what a fanfare represents.

Alan Holley rounds out the recording with The Goodchild Canzonas, a four movement work exploring atriums, cathedrals, and the heavens above, but perhaps most appropriately: the Lyrebird. BOOK OF BRASS is a winning installment in Lyrebird Brass’s already impressive oeuvre, pulling out all the stops with spirited fanfares and contemplative odes.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Book of Brass: I. Ramp Up Jennifer Higdon Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 2:30
02 Book of Brass: II. Acrostic Jennifer Higdon Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 3:27
03 Book of Brass: III. Glide and Fade Jennifer Higdon Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 5:07
04 Book of Brass: IV. Punch It Up Jennifer Higdon Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 2:47
05 As Bronze Grace-Evangeline Mason Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 3:10
06 Fanfare Kate Neal Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 3:32
07 Uncertain Meditations: I. Suspended Animation Alice Humphries Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 2:05
08 Uncertain Meditations: II. Vorticity Alice Humphries Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 2:39
09 Uncertain Meditations: III. Animated Suspensions Alice Humphries Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 1:45
10 Uncertain Meditations: IV. Drift (back to you) Alice Humphries Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 3:40
11 Goodchild Canzonas: I. Lyrebird Alan Holley Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 4:25
12 Goodchild Canzonas: II. Dulwich Ayre Alan Holley Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 4:35
13 Goodchild Canzonas: III. Atrium Alan Holley Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 2:06
14 Goodchild Canzonas: IV. Arcadia Alan Holley Lyrebird Brass | Joel Brennan, trumpet; Rosie Turner, trumpet; Carla Blackwood, horn; Don Immel, trombone; Tim Buzbee, tuba 5:32

Recorded November 29 & December 5-6, 2022 at Kenneth Myer Auditorium in Melbourne, Australia
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Haig Burnell
Editing Joel Brennan, Don Immel, David Wilkinson
Mixing & Mastering David Wilkinson

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R Brandon MacNeil
A&R Jeff LeRoy

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Kacie Brown
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Lyrebird Brass

Ensemble

Lyrebird Brass is a collective of musicians dedicated to performing the finest brass chamber music, with a mission to engage audiences through exceptional artistry and accessible programming. The members of Lyrebird Brass have each developed an international reputation, performing in many of the world’s premier ensembles, and bring a unique musical perspective to the group.

Joel Brennan

Trumpet

Joel Brennan enjoys a diverse career as a performer and teacher. He has performed with orchestras around the globe, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Australia), Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (Korea), Rotterdam Philharmonic (Netherlands), Winnipeg Symphony (Canada), Malaysian Philharmonic, and Bilkent Symphony Orchestra (Turkey), and has served as principal trumpet of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra (Japan) and Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra (Netherlands).

A proponent of contemporary music and chamber music, Brennan is a member of Ensemble Three, a unique trio of trumpet, trombone, and guitar which has been praised as “an inspiring example of forward-thinking classical music culture” (CutCommon), and won the 2017 Melbourne Recital Centre Contemporary Masters Award.

Brennan is Associate Professor of Music Performance at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne) and has also been on faculty at Juilliard School’s campus in Tianjin, China, and Brandon University (Canada). Awarded a Fulbright Grant 2007, Brennan spent a year performing, teaching, and studying in the Netherlands after having completed his formal training at Oberlin Conservatory and Yale University.

Brennan is a Yamaha Performing Artist.

joelbrennan.com

Rosie Turner

Trumpet

Rosie Turner grew up in Sydney’s brass band scene, and it was not until after graduating from the University of Sydney that she fell in love with the orchestral world. After several years in the Australian Youth Orchestra, she moved to Philadelphia to study with David Bilger at the Curtis Institute of Music. Upon graduation, Turner began as Second Trumpet in the Macau Orchestra where she served four seasons, and during this time was able to perform with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic, and back home with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

A move to Melbourne in 2016 has happily led to joining the brass faculty at the University of Melbourne, playing three years with the Australian World Orchestra and the position of Section Trumpet with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Carla Blackwood

Horn

Horn player Carla Blackwood builds threads of connection through her playing, teaching, and research. As a leading performer on both modern and period instruments, Blackwood’s artistry is heard through her informed approach to historical performance and her enthusiastic advocacy for new and Australian music. Blackwood is a sought after teacher and mentor: she is French Horn Lecturer at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and Horn Faculty at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Ignited by excellence, Blackwood is in demand as a collaborator for composers and performers alike. On historical natural horns, Blackwood is principal horn of the Orchestra of the Antipodes (Pinchgut Opera), the Australian Haydn Ensemble and Genesis Baroque, and has performed as guest principal horn with Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. On modern horn, Blackwood performs regularly with leading Australian chamber ensembles including Quercus Trio, Lyrebird Brass, Ensemble Liaison, Australian Wind Quintet, and Australia Ensemble, and is a regular guest principal horn with symphony orchestras around Australia.

Prior to taking up her current position in Melbourne, Blackwood was Principal Horn of the Tiroler Symphonie Orchester Innsbruck and Professor for Horn at the Tiroler Landeskonservatorium in Austria. During her 13 years living in Europe, Blackwood performed as guest principal horn with orchestras including the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the SWR Sinfonie Orchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Camerata Salzburg, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra. Blackwood has held contracts in a number of orchestras across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. She holds masters degrees from Zurich and Basel, and studied under Christian Lampert, Horst Ziegler, Hector McDonald, and Radovan Vlatkovic.

Blackwood is a passionate researcher, currently focused on writing the history of the horn in Australia.

carlablackwood.com

Don Immel

Trombone

Internationally recognized as an elite performer and teacher, Professor Don Immel has a singularly diverse performance background that includes dozens of world premiere performances, two jazz-based solo releases of his own compositions, six years as principal trombonist with the Danish Philharmonic, and substantial work as a chamber musician.

His critically acclaimed project Three was launched in 2012 with MCM colleagues Joel Brennan and Ken Murray as an artistic vehicle to commission, record, and perform new music on the local, national, and international stage. To date, Three has commissioned and/or premiered over 30 works, many of which can be heard on recent releases: Midnight Songs (Tall Poppies Records, TP237), Return Journey (ABC Classics), Despite Our Silent Elders (Lyrebird Productions), and Voodoo Sonnets (Lyrebird Productions).

donimmel.com

Tim Buzbee

Tuba

Tim Buzbee has been the Principal Tubist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2010. Buzbee grew up in Queen City TX and knows he would probably be flipping burgers if not for the help of teachers Ed Jones, Gene Pokorny, and Matt Good. He has performed as a guest tubist with many orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Danish Radio Orchestra, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, Malaysia Philharmonic, and the Helsingborg Symphony.

As a soloist he has performed with the Iceland Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Acapulco Symphony, Marshall Symphony, and the “Pershing’s Own” Army Band in Washington DC, and currently has two solo cds on the Albany Records label. Before taking his position at the MSO, he held the Principal Tuba position at the Iceland Symphony, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Acapulco Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Gavle Symphony, and the Malmo Symphony.

Notes

Lyrebird Brass’s second album takes its title from Jennifer Higdon’s new quintet Book of Brass. All works on the album are world premiere recordings of contemporary brass quintets.

Book of Brass is a collection of four movements (or chapters, which can be played in any order and in any number/combination). It consists of two fast and two slow movements. In their original order: ‘Ramp Up’ is a rollicking, spirited piece, busy and intense from first note to last; ‘Acrostic’ is a slower paced puzzle of phrases that sometimes overlap, becoming more complex as the music unfolds; ‘Glide & Fade’ is meditative and thoughtful; and finally, ‘Punch It Up’ (a play on the first movement’s title as well as using some of its musical material), is a high energy groove.”

– Jennifer Higdon

Book of Brass was commissioned by The American Brass Quintet and Lyrebird Brass, with the generous support of Dorothy and DuWayne Hansen and The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Hanson Dyer Bequest.

Jennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize and three-time GRAMMY® winner, is one of the most performed living American composers working today. She is a recipient of Northwestern University’s Nemmers Prize and the UT Austin EM King Award. Other honors include the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky, and Pew Fellowships, as well as two awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Commissions have come from a wide range of performers: from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony to The President’s Own Marine Band; the Tokyo String Quartet and Eighth Blackbird, as well as individual artists such as singer Thomas Hampson, violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist, Yuja Wang. Her first opera on Charles Frazier’s book, Cold Mountain, was commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, NC Opera, and Minnesota Opera and won the International Opera Award for Best World Premiere. Higdon makes her living from commissions and serves as composer-in-residence with various orchestras throughout the country. Her works are recorded on over 80 CDs. For more info, visit jenniferhigdon.com

As Bronze is a reflective work inspired by the poem ‘As Bronze May Be Much Beautified’ (1918) by poet Wilfred Owen. The piece was commissioned to mark the centenary of the First World War as part of the Wilfred Owen Commemoration Festival. The poem, which was incomplete upon the poet’s death, uses imagery to describe how materials such as bronze and pearl can be made more beautiful by experiencing hardship.”

– Grace Evangeline Mason

Named as the “Face to Watch” for classical music in The Times 2020 Calendar of the Arts, Grace-Evangeline Mason is a composer based in the United Kingdom creating ethereal sound-worlds often inspired by art and poetry. Performers of her music include the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in venues across the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. Her orchestral work The Imagined Forest, “drawn with pen-and-ink precision” according to the New York Times, was premiered at the 2021 BBC Proms. Among Mason’s awards are the BBC Young Composer of the Year (2013) and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (2018). Her music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Fanfare was written in 2021 for the Golden Gate Brass Quintet to premiere at the Canberra International Festival Music. Due to COVID-19 and lockdowns it felt a strange and dark time to be writing a fanfare. This fanfare reveals the tensions and dichotomy, as well as fragile vulnerability, of writing a fanfare in that moment in time. It is a fanfare for the possibility of hope, a fanfare for uncertain times. Due to lockdowns, the 2021 premiere never took place, and the work was ultimately premiered by Lyrebird Brass. This played into the tension in and character of the piece: that the occasional for which the fanfare was written never happened. It had become a fanfare for the locked-down in us all.”

– Kate Neal

Kate Neal is an artist with over 20 years of experience as a composer, arranger, educator, and collaborator. In 2023, Neal premiered A Book of Hours, a visual-music-theater work in collaboration with Gerard Van Dyck (choreography) and Sal Cooper (visual media). In 2022, Neal and Cooper toured While You Sleep, a groundbreaking work for string quartet and visual media. In 2020–2021 Neal premiered Sentiment Logistics with Sal Cooper, a TURA No Borders commission, as well as new works for Golden Gate Brass, Muses Trio, and sound design for the RISING featured theater work The Dispute. In 2019 Neal premiered The Commuter Variations commissioned by the Melbourne Recital Centre, performed by Lisa Moore. Neal is Lecturer in Interactive Composition at the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. She holds a B.Mus. (VCA, Melbourne); B.Mus./M.Mus. (RC, The Hague); P.G.D.ip. (non-western music, SC, Amsterdam); P.G.D.ip. (RNCM, Manchester); Ph.D. Graduate Fellow, Princeton University.

Uncertain Meditations was commissioned by Lyrebird Brass. It leans into concepts of stillness and ‘stuckness,’ uncertainty, and possibility. Across the four short, interconnected movements, the ensemble often acts as one instrument, contrasted with moments of individual instrumental clarity. The piece explores the creative potential of sitting with a single idea, allowing it to unfold organically before moving on to the next.”

– Alice Humphries

Alice Humphries is a highly versatile composer working across and in-between the contemporary classical, jazz, and experimental worlds. Her music has been described as “deeply thought-provoking… offering both moments of incredible intensity and sublime serenity” (Eastside Radio). Her output includes electro-acoustic, chamber, and orchestral music, as well as music for dance, documentary, and collaborative cross art form projects. She seeks to create evocative, immersive, and engaging sound worlds that take inspiration from natural phenomena, and intersections between humanity and nature.

Dedicated to Paul Goodchild

The Goodchild Canzonas is the result of a commission from Paul and Yvette Goodchild. I wrote many works for Paul and he was the most amazing interpreter of my music. The title of the quintet seems most appropriate, and the four movements are named after a favourite bird and evocative place names and words.

For me the opening ‘Lyrebird’ movement is a small sound painting about the restlessness of the great mimic bird of Australia, collecting sounds and songs from many different places and weaving them into a cacophonous and idiosyncratic aria. By comparison, ‘Dulwich Ayre’ is about being in a monumental structure, like a large cathedral, with seemingly endless space to allow music to travel on and on and being able to experience such sounds drifting by ever so slowly. The languid solo line on the flugelhorn, a favourite instrument of Paul, dominates this movement and I have tried to treat the other instruments as if I was a pointillist painter, sparingly using the colors available. In the briefest of the movements, ‘Atrium,’ I imagined standing in a space of fantasy, of birds and lush greenery all contained in a towering glass structure. ‘Arcadia,’ a mythical place where heroes and gods live freely, is surely the location where so many of us wish to live and enjoy life — in its entirety. The tuba is given prominence in this movement with passages of bravura writing, and there are moments of instrumental pairing, such as a duet for horn and trombone that allow tonal variations inside the ensemble of five.”

– Alan Holley

Sydney-born composer Alan Holley (b. 1954) has been a featured composer at numerous music festivals and received composer profile concerts in Croatia, Serbia, Albania, and Australia. After his Sydney Symphony Orchestra commissioned trumpet concerto Doppler’s Web (2005), written for soloist Paul Goodchild was premiered, Holley received several more commissions from that orchestra. The Australian Chamber Choir has commissioned and performed several works that have been performed in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and England. His works are now published by Kookaburra Music and recorded on Hammerings Records.

Lyrebird Brass extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported this project. This includes but is not limited to: Haig Burnell and David Wilkinson; Richard Kurth; Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne; the Hanson Dyer Bequest; Cian Malikides and Alex Morton; PARMA Recordings.