Early in the spring of 2020, Nathan Hudson asked me to write three unaccompanied trumpet etudes and be a part of the Next Generation Trumpet Competition, an all-online competition aimed towards young trumpet players. I'm one of five composers who each wrote three etudes for the competition. A set of all the etudes is available for purchase on the competition's website. Each of my three etudes was inspired in some way by the events of the spring of 2020. During the protests that followed the death of George Floyd, I turned to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to help find inspiration and solace. The Covid-19 pandemic inspired the other two etudes.
Gettysburg Address takes the text of the famous speech that Abraham Lincoln gave after the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and invites the performer to interpret it through their instrument. Inspired by a discussion of how text can inform musical phrasing, the notation includes a series of pitches mapped onto the speech without any rhythms given, and only general dynamic suggestions. Gettysburg Address is dedicated to Lucas Balslov.
Uncertain Times quotes three US Navy bugle calls - Attention, Abandon Ship, and Church Call. I was thinking about the turmoil that surrounded the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and created a narrative through this piece that reflects the emotions I was feeling. The first section is agitated and chaotic, with rapid meter changes and unstable musical lines. It begins with a distorted quotation of Attention and fragments of Abandon Ship are strewn about. During the second half of the etude, Church Call represents peace and hope. Measure by measure, I quote the entire Church Call, and it continues to be interrupted by increasingly subdued fragments of Abandon Ship. Uncertain Times is dedicated to John Armstrong.
Together takes its name from one of the biggest things lost during the pandemic. Much of the world locked down in March and April, separating countless friends and families from each other, and beyond that, "social distancing" was necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. Our desire to come back together was stronger than ever, as was our need for person-to-person connection. This etude brings two musical lines together. One line begins low and loud, and is echoed by the other line, high and quiet. Over the course of this piece, the two lines have a conversation and eventually come together in the middle register of the trumpet. Together is dedicated to Christopher Scanlon.