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Commissioned by the Borealis Brass Trio of Fairbanks, Alaska for premiere at The Vatican, Italy, December 2000.
These tunes represent three distinct styles within the American sacred musical tradition. "All Hail..." is an 18th-century New England hymn: stern and triumphant. "Nobody Knows..." is a Negro spiritual of unknown original (19th-century), rhapsodic in nature. And, "Shall We Gather..." is a joyous gospel song from the revival era.
The brass trio adaptations of these songs present the original melodies, with new "excursions" interjected before and after the stanzas. This new material aims to enhance certain characteristics of the hymns. For example, "All Hail" opens with four extra measures of the "All Hail" motive (rising 4ths in the Trombone), to emphasize the regal aspects of the song. This motive then returns, in various guises, throughout the piece.
"Nobody Knows..." focuses on the solitary aspect of the song, as a personal lamentation. Therefore, the texture of this movement is melody (solo) and accompaniment. As in the case of "All Hail...," newly-composed developmental sections are interspersed with the verses of this song. These new sections become expanded into a final rhapsodic expression for the Trumpet. One voice alone.
"Shall We Gather..." puts this familiar melody into a swing rhythm. Much delight is taken with this song. Developmental "excursions" use the "wa-wa" mute effect (for a light-hearted, watery sound). The theme undergoes numerous transpositions and alterations, including a brief appearance in a march tempo, before returning to its opening "bounce."
Notes by the composer