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  • James Blackford

New Australian Music for Brass; Featured composer of the week! Brendan Champion

Hear a little more about Brendan and his piece ¨First Suite for Brass in Bb¨

Was there an inspiration for the piece? If so, what was it?

Usually a composition will have two or three themes that the composer develops and explores through the piece. I'm not very good at that... I find my ideas tend to run out of steam after a couple of minutes so this time I decided instead to collect all these different ideas floating around in my head and create shorter "movements" that quickly present a musical idea and then move on before the audience gets bored. What did you like about writing for brass?

Brass instruments are particularly good at blending with each other and creating lush chords so I tried to take advantage of this by writing more ensemble-based material, as opposed to a soloist v. accompaniment form. Additionally using mutes can give one instrument vastly different tone colours which is something that is unique to brass instruments.

What’s different about this project for you?

Because of the way Matt and James planned to record this album, by multitracking each part in the studio, I was essentially free to write a potentially infinite number of parts. This was a new dimension to consider for me and the sheer volume of choice was a bit paralysing at first. Eventually I settled on 3 parts each for the trumpet and euphonium for the majority of the piece with some extras thrown in when needed.

Trumpet or euphonium?

Trumpet... sorry James! It can't be beat in terms of raw power. If you need an instrument to get your message across an entire symphony orchestra then the trumpet is your tool for you. It can't do it alone though it still needs the help of the rest of the brass section.

Other projects to check out?

Well sticking with the brass theme: CSO Resound - Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Live: The gold standard for brass ensemble arrangements and playing.

Marshall Gilkes - Waiting to Continue: Composer and trombonist with some excellent compositions.

Phillip Lassiter - DreamZzz: Trumpet player for Prince, among many others, shows off the power of the horn section.

What’s your background in composition?

My first compositions were done at university out of necessity (shout out to Dave Theak for throwing us in the deep end). Since then my real passion and the bulk of my work has been transcribing and arranging existing works. Occasionally though someone will give me the opportunity to write something original and I'll work up the courage to put something out there. Creating something from nothing is a terrifying but rewarding process.

Find out where to listen to 'First Suite for Brass in Bb' and the rest of the album here.

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