Commissioned Compositions

  • Jump In by Jonathan Miller

    Scored for 4 natural trumpets and timpani, Jump In was premiered at the 2009 HBS Early Brass Festival at University of Connecticut, Storrs World Premiere of Jump In for Natural Trumpet Ensemble with Bob Civiletti, Dave Mahler, Randy Barbiero, Jeff Nussbaum, Robinson Pyle, Ralph Dudgeon (conducting), Joe Kaminski, Lorenzo Greenwich, Flora Newberry.

  • Stony Creek by Jonathan Miller

    Scored for 2 cornetti, 2 sackbuts and serpent, this piece was premiered at the 2003 HBS Early Brass Festival #19 held at Yale University. It was performed by cornetto players; Jim Miller and Flora Newberry, trombonists; Steve Lundahl, Fred Moyes and serpentist; Robert Wageenknecht.

  • Fanfare by Simon Proctor

    Premiered in 2007 at the HBS Early Brass Festival. This fanfare has flexible instrumentation. It can be played with the following instrumentation:

    First part: keyed bugle and/or cornetto
    Second part: natural horn and/or alto sackbut
    Third part: trombone and/or bass horn
    Fourth part: Any combination, combined or individual of ophicleide, serpent, bass sackbut

    Simon Proctor is a noted British composer most widely known in the early brass field for his Concerto for Serpent which was premiered by Alan Lumsden in 1987 at the Serpent Festival in Columbia, South Carolina (USA) and later performed by Douglas Yeo with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1997, conducted by John Williams.

  • Caduceus Mixtus for Serpent and Ophicleide by Jaron Lanier


    Dedicated to the memory of Gunther Schuller

    Premiered at the 2017 HBS 3rd International Historic Brass Symposium, NYC
    Douglas Yeo, serpent, and Scott Robinson, ophicleide

    Jaron Lanier wrote the following notes for the premier concert

    Notes on Caduceus Mixtus by Jaron Lanier

    (Dedicated to Gunther Schuller)

    This is a duet for two obscure instruments; serpent and ophicleide. It can be played with the two horns only, or with a rhythmic accompaniment. (This is why some passages are notated as syncopated. Brazilian percussion might be considered for reasons that will be explained.)

    The overwhelming factor in my life during the time I wrote this score was that my wife was battling cancer. We would often find ourselves waiting in places like hospital pharmacies which were adorned with the caduceus symbol. One of the places had a caduceus inside a key! (Ophicleide means “keyed serpent.”) That made me remember a biologist friend from long ago who studied a phenomenon seen around the world, but mostly in Brazil. Snakes of different species will on rare occasions intertwine for extended periods, and display motion unlike that observed in fighting or mating. One possibility is that this is a coincidental glitch, but another idea is that it as an example of inter-species cooperation. Maybe, for instance, the snakes are sharing information (through chemical traces) about changing threats and resources in the environment.

    This is a piece about cooperation between presumably eccentric players who have opted to take on difficult, archaic instruments. I learned to play each instrument passably before writing this duet. When I started my practice on the serpent, my daughter would run from the room. (The instrument had once been famously described as a "drain pipe with dysentery.”) As I gained passable skills, she complained. “Now it just sounds like an instrument.” Once I could play it, I could no longer access the bizarre, rude sounds that I have not heard elsewhere. I did find, however, certain kinds of phrases that I enjoyed playing on both instruments, and these form the basis of the duet.

    The surviving images of period players fascinate me. They are always costumed. The serpent wasn’t played by a peasant in a barn, like a fiddle. It was played in a church, and the player was robed, maybe even winged. The ophicleide was often played in military bands, and the players were decorated like dandy parrots.

    In each case, the music accompanied a march into the unknown, and the armor was nothing but style. Given this history, I decided the piece would have no repeats, and would not end in a lofty finale. It would have a sense of drive, but also an uncertain destination. Gunther Schuller was originally supposed to have written this duet, but he died from leukemia before he was able to do so. I met Gunther a few times in the 1990s, through Ornette Coleman and Sue Mingus. What an astonishing musician. He was one of the crucial bridges in American music, between the jazz and classical traditions. He was one of those intertwined snakes.

    It is an honor to dedicate this piece to Gunther.

    In addition to being an active composer, performer and instrument collector, Jaron Lanier is a prominent computer scientist and futurist who, among many other accomplishments, is credited with coining the phrase “virtual reality” and has done ground-breaking work in that field. He has been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.