Opus 263

Silver Lagoons: Trumpet Concerto (2001)

for Solo Trumpet and Orchestra
  • Prelude-Visions
  • Soliloquy
  • Prophesies-Vignettes (for Jeffrey Silberschlag)

Bruce Briney, trumpet; Knox-Galesburg Symphony; Bruce Polay, conductor

Duration: 16 min.

Dedication: in memory of William Mathias and Olivier Messiaen

Commission: Commissioned with support from Louise Sandowska Taylor

Publisher: Lauren Keiser Music Publishing

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Silver Lagoons: Trumpet Concerto (2001) for solo trumpet and orchestra is a concerto in three movements, played through without break. The work is dedicated to the memory of two composers, the Welsh composer William Mathias (1934–1992) and the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992), both of whose music has been very important to me. The work was premiered in November 2003 by Bruce Briney, trumpet with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony under the direction of Bruce Polay.

I set out, with this piece, to write a lyrical work. The trumpet has almost none of the traditional fanfare signal gestures with which it is often associated. Rather it becomes a singing part of the full sound tapestry. The predominant texture throughout is one of sustained stillness. The title provided the poetic image for the work—and thus the shimmering colors of the water, moving and still all at the same time.

The first movement, Prelude-Visions, is based on the famous Southern hymn tune WONDROUS LOVE from William Walker’s seminal 1835 American hymnal, The Southern Harmony. The movement is in three sections, forming continuous transformation of the hymn tune material. The first (slow) section, opens with a static introduction—small “drops of water” from the trumpet and winds and a whirring tapestry in the strings. Over this, the trumpet then presents the hymn tune in its most straightforward form. This leads directly to the presentation of the tune’s first transformation into another melody which is combined with the original tune. In the second (fast) section, interlocking ostinati presented by pizzicato strings provide the backdrop for the trumpet part which weaves through, around, and over it. The orchestral winds present fragmented commentary and transformations of the main material, like little specks of reflected light through the water. The final (slow) section, is similar to the opening one as the hymn tune is heard again in fragmented form before the closing moments as the texture thins out again to reveal the water alone—the trumpet reflecting off of it.

Immediately following is the second movement, Soliloquy, which is a cadenza for the solo trumpet. In this movement, the gestures and material from the first movement are combined with that of the upcoming third movement.

The final movement, Vignettes-Prophesies, proceeds directly out of the cadenza. After an opening section of unfolding, the trumpet presents a lyric aria over pulsing strings (this is the principal material for this movement.) The opening textures then return, leading to a section of “slowed resplendence” which proceeds to a fast section in which the trumpet sings an ecstatic melody over a rhythmic ostinato. The “resplendence” section returns and leads to a climax. A coda, based on the principal material ensues, leading to a conclusion of tremendous exuberance. The reflection is at its peak—the sunlight beams through to show an array of sparkling and vibrant colors, reflected from the water.