Tesserae (2015) for brass quintet

Tesserae (2015)

Instrumentation: brass quintet (two trumpets in C, french horn, trombone, & tuba)
Duration ca. 12′

Commissioned for the West-Eastern Divan Brass Quintet, the world premiere took place in Buenos Aires on August 2nd, 2015 with additional performances on August 5th & 6th. Details here.

The word Tesserae (pronounced tes-uh-ree) is the plural of the word tessera and it defined as:

• A small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics.

• A small square of bone, wood, or the like, used in ancient times as a token, tally, ticket, etc.

This quintet for brass under this title plays with both ideas; the first being a small square, among thousands of the same, that forms a much bigger picture. The first movement, which is based on a four note motif (A, G, Eb, F#), embodies this notion. The four pitches are treated as a square that rotates to produce other shapes. The ‘square’ 4/4 rhythm also figures into this idea but, as with real tessera in mosaics, they are never perfectly cut and there is always a jagged edge here or there so even what looks like a 4/4 meter is does not always fit so neatly in its bar lines. The other meaning of tesserae, that of a ‘ticket’ or ‘token’ embodies the emotional side of this work, which is the expression of something that every composer or creative person must ask with each new output; “is this new piece acceptable as ticket or token? May I pass through?” This work was composed for the brass players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and is dedicated to them.

View score here.

Score and parts available through E.C. Schrimer here.

Program Notes:

Tesserae for brass quintet (2015) by Kareem Roustom

Duration ca. 12 minutes

 

The word Tesserae (pronounced tes-uh-ree) is the plural of the word tessera and it defined as:

  1. A small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics.
  2. A small square of bone, wood, or the like, used in ancient times as a token, tally, ticket, etc.

This quintet for brass under this title plays with both ideas; the first being a small square, among thousands of the same, that forms a much bigger picture. The first movement, which is based on a four-note motif (A, G, Eb, F#), embodies this notion. The four pitches are treated as a square that rotates to produce other shapes. The ‘square’ 4/4 rhythm also figures into this idea but, as with real tessera in mosaics, they are never perfectly cut and there is always a jagged edge here or there so even what looks like a 4/4 meter is does not always fit so neatly in its bar lines.

The other meaning of tesserae, that of a ‘ticket’ or ‘token’ embodies the emotional side of this work, which is the expression of something that every composer or creative person must ask with each new output; “is this new piece acceptable as ticket or token? May I pass through?”

The work is cast into two movements. The first, also titled Tesserae, is very dynamic in its emotions and, perhaps, reflects the creative process; difficult, fraught with anxiety but always searching. The second movement, Andalusian Poem, is based on a recent choral work of mine, which is a setting of a poem by the 11th century Andalusian poetess Umm Al-Kiram. A beautiful and heart felt poem it extolls the beloved’s beauty as a ‘wonder to be admired’ and without his presence the moonlight would not reach down to the earth.  This movement is based on the Arabic the maqam (or scale) called bayaati (D, E 1/2 flat, F, G, A, B 1/2 flat, C, D). The brass players are called upon to play outside the tempered western scale. However, some of these pitches exist in nature as part of the overtone series, which is the foundation of brass instrument playing.

This work was commissioned by the brass players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and is dedicated to them. The world premiere took place on August 1st, 2015 at the Islamic Center of Buenos Aires, followed by concerts at the Libertad Temple on August 5th and the Metropolitan Cathedral on August 6th.

The performers were Alfonso González Barquín, 1st trumpet, Bassam Mussad, 2nd trumpet, Merav Goldman, Horn, Jaume Gavilán Agullo, Trombone, Javier Castaño Medina, Tuba

Kareem Roustom – Composer
www.kr-music.com

© 2015 Layali Music Publishing, BMI