Five British Composers Who Write Good Brass Music

This week we are very excited to present a Five Things Friday post by Jo Harris, member of the British trumpet quartet Bella Tromba. 

1. Cecilia McDowall (b.1951)
Cecilia wins hand down as the most prolific writer for brass soloists and chamber musicians. Expect lilting 6/8’s, flowing melodies and playable parts. Cecilia finds a personality in brass instruments that has all the joy of a dancing girl at a country fair.

Check out The Night Trumpeter for Trumpet and Piano for stunning storytelling and extended techniques. 

2. Diana Burrell (b.1948)
If grandeur is your thing then look no further than Diana’s awesome Concerto for Brass and Orchestra premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2016. She has also been commissioned by tenThing so in our minds she is a true Lady of Brass.

3. Helen Perkin (1909-1996)
Oh brass bands, the last band stand of misogynistic man. (Whoops, did I say that?!) Unbelievably in the 164 years of the British Open Championships Helen Perkin is the only women to have composed an all-important contest piece, twice. Carnival and Island Heritage remain worthy of more outings and if you are lucky enough to play in a brass band then please suggest including Helen Perkin to the band master! She deserves far more credit.

4. Roxanna Panufnik (b.1968)
I’ve found playing Roxanna’s orchestral parts and fanfares really enjoyable. I am yet to play her quintet or dectet but I bet they are great. It’s always a joy to have something put in front of you that is both flashy and playable…

Check out some of her chamber music here.

5. Joy Webb (b.1932)
I remember the legendary James Watson playing Share my Yolk to the trumpet class at the Royal Academy of Music. I caught my friend (quartet member) Vickie’s eye and we were both tearing up! What a tune and what lyrics!
Joy Webb captured the essence of Christian humility and wrapped it up as popular ballads. On a Starry Night, The Candle of the Lord and Share My Yolk are melodies that every brass player should know.

Hear Bella Tromba play Joy’s beautiful piece “Share my Yolk”

Bella Tromba

Portrait shoot. Japanese Garden, Peckham Rye Park. Sunday 5 June 2016.

Winners of the Park Lane Group Young Artist Award, Bella Tromba have been active in the performance of new works since their formation at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 2004. Commissioned composers include  Paul Max Edlin (Southbank Centre), Howard Skempton (Cheltenham Music Festival) and John Reeman (Dartington Festival).

Bella Tromba performed Telos 135 for four trumpets and timpani by Peter Maxwell Davies in the presence of the composer at Canterbury Christ Church University and recorded Peter Longworth’s Colori di Roma following performances in Germany, Poland and Canada. In 2012 Bella Tromba created an illuminating live electronic dance set that fused Classical Mozart with beat led tracks and sub bass frequencies for the Beautiful Days Festival.

In 2017 the quartet will premiere new works by Peter Yarde Martin and Peter Longworth.

Bella Tromba are actively seeking to raise funds to commission new works for brass to ensure a legacy for future generations of brass players.

2 thoughts on “Five British Composers Who Write Good Brass Music

  1. zumpoems December 29, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Thanks for spotlighting these composers!

    • katetrumpet11 December 29, 2017 / 8:53 am

      of course! We always love supporting female composers in addition to female brass players 🙂

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