Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
The brass quintet medium is a relatively recent phenomenon, having gained impetus following the second World War. Though first viewed with some skepticism, the format gained acceptance and even a considerable measure of popularity thanks to virtuoso musicians who demonstrated that brass music could express a wide range of musical emotion.
With their debut recording Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs and their second album Just a Little Off the Top, Artisans in Brass follows in the brass quintet tradition and furthers that tradition with an emphasis on the musical heritage of American Protestantism.
The album contains 14 arrangements, (recorded for the first time in quintet settings) featuring 15 well-known songs drawn from standard hymnody. The selections span a period of some 300 years, reaching from the late 1600’s to the mid-1900’s. The CD title reflects the diversity contained within this collection: Psalm settings like My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and The Lord’s My Shepherd; hymns of both European and American origin, such as Praise to the Lord, the Almighty and Lead On, O King Eternal; and spiritual songs reflecting the Christian experience, as typified by Heavenly Sunlight and It Is Well with My Soul.
Eleven of the tracks were arranged by members of AiB with a conscious effort to reflect a wide variety of musical styles within the album. Influences from the high Renaissance can be seen in My Faith Has Found A Resting Place, the Baroque in O Worship the King, the Classical era in Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the Romantic period in Holy, Holy, Holy, and the first half of the 1900’s in Channels Only and On Jordan’s Stormy Banks. There are even hints of Minimalism in All Hail the Power. On careful examination, references to the writing prowess of several composers can be heard: William Byrd, J.S. Bach, F.J. Haydn and W.A. Mozart, Gustav Holst, Aaron Copland, and John Williams.
AiB has endeavored to display the flexibility capable of the modern brass quintet with features for each instrument, the inclusion of powerful and majestic settings juxtaposed with lyrical and reflective sentiments, and contrasts between full voicings and various utilizations of one, two, three, and four instruments. It is our hope that these songs in new settings will ultimately point to the Giver of our talents and the Inspiration of these melodies-- the omnipotent God revealed in the Bible (Who promises salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.) In the words of the inimitable J.S. Bach, “Soli Deo Gloria!”