Novus programs make a statement. They are at times powerful, poignant, tender, fun, thrilling and profound. The group strives to leave the audience with sense of what can be expressed when four excellent trombonists come together to make music. Novus tries to move beyond the “brass musician as clown” stereotype and present serious chamber music performed with thoughtful subtlety. At a Novus concert you can expect to hear:
Classic works written for four trombones by Beethoven, Boutry, Bozza, Charpentier, Defaye, Hornoff, Jacob, Koetsier, Nelhybel, Speer, and Wuorinen
Arrangements done by Novus such as the Intermede from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, “I Shall Not Walk Alone” (as performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama), “Every Breath You Take,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “Money,” preludes and fugues by Bach and Shostakovich
Traditional trombone quartet arrangements like vocal works by Bach and Bruckner, string quartets by Webern, popular tunes like “That’s a Plenty” and music from Star Wars
Parable of the Sower “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell amongthe thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away whathas been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the manwho hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” -The Gospel according to Matthew, 13:3-8, 18-23, NASB One of the few parables Jesus explains, the seeds and soils also represent a powerful metaphor for anything with potential – early childhood development, for example. In the work’s four movements, each of the trombones plays a leading part to represent the fate of each group of seeds. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Oedipus at Colonus in Nine Fragmentary Tableaux The music from which these selections were drawn was commissioned for the HandcartEnsemble’s winter 2008 production of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. Seeking to evoke a mythological, ancient world, I selected the harp and oboe for being (very distantly) related to the Kithara and Aulos, two primary instruments of the Ancient Greeks. I chose the trombone for its common historical, theatrical association with gods, the supernatural and the other-worldly, as well as for thatinstrument’s own relatively direct connection to ancient brass instruments. Half of the music was scored for the harp/oboe combination, and the other for trombone quartet. The music is mostly harmonically simple and static, suitable for underscoring the wordy, weighty scenes of the play. Nevertheless, the harmonic palette and tonal shape for the piece as a whole is derived from a conflict between the common-practice interval of strength and stability, the perfect fifth,and the interval embodying the golden ratio in music (and therefore, by Ancient Greek standards, musical perfection), the major sixth. The triumph of the divine, transcendent forces (the oracular and godly calls for Oedipus’s self-sacrifice andthe inevitability of death) over the earthly, temporal forces (the ambitions of Creon and Polyneices, the persistent ramifications of Oedipus’s past moral transgressions) is mirrored by the gradual emergence of the major sixth as the dominant and terminal interval.