Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brass History

This article, written by David Wilken, provides a nice, concise history of brass instruments.

David Wilken has a diverse background as a performer, as his biography mentions, but the article provides a nice general introduction to the general topic of brass history.

Maryland Early Brass Festival

For anyone interested in early brass performance, this one-day event would prove a rich learning experience.

With lectures, workshops and performances, it seems that a player or ensemble would gain much from visiting an event like this, especially if a player of your primary instrument is the artist-in-residence of the year.

Medieval and Renaissance Music Resources

In addition to the strange thing called the "Library" that we have here at school, this website provides a great deal of information regarding Medieval and Renaissance music.  This information would come in handy were a group performing something from this period, as it would enable the players to give a historically informed performance, rather than simply delivering the notes as though they were Romantic or contemporary writing.

Blechblas-Instrumentenbau Egger

This is the site of a Swiss manufacturer of brass instruments.  While the bio doesn't specifically mention this, they seem to have a large amount of historic replicas currently in production.  I suppose that a manufacturer wouldn't bother to make instruments like this if there weren't some demand for them, so I think we can take that as an indication that the study and performance of early brass music is alive and well.

La Spiritata

While not much information is available on this ensemble, making it hard to judge their "success," it goes along with what we were talking about in class.  These guys met over the summer, and enjoyed playing together, and because of that particular blend of personalities, they have decided to form a group.  They may not be the best players, but if they got along over the summer, chances are there will be a healthy group dynamic in which they can help improve both as a group and individually.

Berlioz Historical Brass

This group was inspired by a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance of Berlioz's 'Messe Sollenelle,' in which the serpent, a period instrument, was included in the orchestra.  Since then, they have had an interesting aim as a group: to further the study and understanding of instruments from this period, rather than searching for venues in which to perform.

They have collaborated on some recordings, listed on their website, and have given lectures and have even helped to create their own editions of music that includes the instruments that they study.

Territorial Brass

Though this doesn't represent quite as early a period as some of the other ensembles I've blogged about, it still merits mentioning.  

This band, based in Arizona, captures a unique time period: music of the American town band from 1835 through to Arizona's statehood.  Like other reenactment-type bands, the members dress in costume.  Their program seems to contain some element of "show," as there is narration and sing-along to engage the audience.

More can be found at their website, here.