Daniel Schnyder and the Manhattan Brass Quinted Perform Euphoria and Other Works at the Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York


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DECEMBER 9, 2009 - 7:30PM

Kosciuszko Foundation
15 East 65th Street (between 5th & Madison Aves)

Tickets: $65 / $20, call 212-239-9190
Manhattan Brass Quintet
- Lew Soloff, Trumpet
- Wayne du Maine, Trumpet
- R.J. Kelley, French horn
- Michael Seltzer, Trombone
- David Taylor, Bass Trombone

Daniel Schnyder - Saxophone

Spiritual & Blues

Four Songs

EUPHORIA (The Story of Sarah, Abraham, Ishamel, and Isaac and Haggar)


Little Songbook
Tales from Another Time

West Side Story

EUPHORIA - Suite for Brass Quintet and Soprano Saxophone
Composed by Daniel Schnyder for the Manhattan Brass, 2006

“Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." (Genesis 16:1-2)

A husband listening to the voice of his wife--what a remarkable beginning to one of the most poignant biblical tales! A childless couple deciding to take recourse to a surrogate mother; the unbearable emotional tension between the young, fertile woman and her mistress; the unexpected gift of a late-born child, the overwhelming joy of its parents, and the weight of a tremendous heritage--and of a deep conflict too--burdened upon the shoulders of forthcoming generations... All these ingredients make the story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac a fascinatingly timeless account, both in terms of its political, psychological and theological implications, which continue to have an enormous impact on all of us to this day.

Asked about his intentions in composing EUPHORIA, Daniel Schnyder says: “The focus is on the story itself and its utopian resolution, a conclusion in 'seven' chapters. (The holy number 7 usually symbolizes conclusion in a biblical context.) The music does not imply a psychological analysis or some kind of political statement based on the bible. “ In fact, Schnyder's EUPHORIA is neither a musical description nor a comment to the biblical legend; it may much rather be heard as a fantastic re-interpretation in seven chapters, transcending the myth which has left its distinctive imprint in our reality and bringing the story to a conclusion. The end of the piece symbolizes a family reunion, a heavenly feast of reconciliation and coming together.

The first movement recounts the dialogue of Abram and Sarai (as they were still called at that time, before changing their names to Abraham and Sarah as a sign of their covenant with God), their melancholy over not having any children--quite unsurprisingly, as they were well above the age limit even for the most audacious fertility doctors of our time--their imploration to God which remained unheard, and Sarai's refuge to the custom of letting her servant, Hagar, conceive a baby from Abram, which would grow up in her house as her own child. That was the plan. And as plans often do, they work out--but not in the way they were intended... Hagar and Sarai suddenly were no longer servant and mistress, but frantic rivals. The dispute of these two women finds its reflection in the raucous impersonations by Lew “Sarai" Soloff and David “Hagar" Taylor in the second movement. On an instrumental level, this is probably one of the craziest and most difficult scores ever written for brass instruments, played here by two of the most esteemed brass legacies of our time. The mothers of the two tribes depart in opposite directions, seeking the most extreme positions; Ishmael emerges sonically from the center of the conflict, contemplating it with deep sorrow.

That was when Sarah hit rock bottom; the excruciating pain of being without child increased by seeing her servant become more powerful due to her being able to bear a child. But then, God spoke to Sarah. The third movement mirrors the peace that suddenly flows through her tormented soul when in her dreams she hears the divine message that she shall have a son. At first, she laughs in disbelief--a bitter, frustrated, maybe even scornful laughter. But then she realizes that she has just laughed at God (and even worse, that she has actually lost her trust in him) and she is overcome by shame.

But despite Sarah's initial disbelief and blasphemic laughter, the divine miracle happens, Isaac is conceived and born, and his parents are in euphoria. Their euphoria however is surprisingly inward-looking, almost meditative, far from being ecstatic, but rather full of relief; only in the ensuing fuga, the perspective towards heaven is opened, with many different voices climbing upwards and reaching celestial heights (just listen to Lew Soloff's astronomical musical Jacob's Ladder towards the end of the fugue), where they are finally unified in the godly key of D, before joining in on a wonderfully rustic dance of joy. At the end of this dance, the previously mentioned utopian family reunion is marked by a most tricky, almost spherical line, defying its definition in time and meter. The earthiness of the rustic 'Dance of Joy' is followed by a celestial chant in unison. The interludes between movements, played by Daniel “Ishmael" Schnyder, tell the entire story from a somewhat detached stance. Ishmael was not really involved in these events, despite being at their very core; he didn't knowingly participate in the great agitations around him, but sensed all their subtle nuances. Transported by the quartertones of his Arabian-inspired melody, the eternal story emerges from the soul of this lonely young man like a shimmering fata morgana, blurred by the winds of the desert.

Four Pieces for Brass Quintet
Composed by Paquito D'Rivera,

The contrasting movements of the Four Pieces for Brass Quintet by Paquito D'Rivera are: Wapango - a lively Afro-Mexican huapango dance in 3/4 time, Danzn - the national dance of Cuba, El Cura - dedicated to Cuban jazz guitarist, Carlos Emilio Morales, nicknamed El Cura (the Priest) by Paquito due to his shirts which resembled a priest's collar, and Sofia - named after the city and based on a Bulgarian dance rhythm.

“We first learned of the Four Pieces while recording the Habaera Absolute Ensemble CD with Paquito and Dave Taylor in 1999 (where I first spent some time working with Dave as well). The pieces have become a standard part of MB's repertoire over many of the last 10 years and we keep coming back to them as they've set a high bar for musicality and style (not to mention groove!" - Mike Seltzer

“The Manhattan Brass has the right timing and sense of rhythm to give to these four pieces of mine the ideal feeling and balance. I was so happy when my old friend Lew Soloff called home to tell me they were recording my compositions." - Paquito D'Rivera

Spiritual & Blues
Composed by Wynton Marsalis for the Manhattan Brass, 2001

“The year was 1985. I was a musician in the midwest living in a bubble of parents who thought I had everything I needed. My mentor and teacher, Susan Slaughter, principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony, set up a master class with an up-and-coming trumpeter named Wynton Marsalis. After playing for him, my brother and I spent time with him listening to the knowledge he was giving. “Get rid of them Jheri Curls" was his first bit of advice! I asked him what path I should take to become a successful musician and he said “go to Juilliard and surround yourself with what NYC has to offer..."best advice anyone has ever given me. I've never looked back and have been living and performing in the NYC area for 23 years. The Manhattan Brass was approached by a mutual friend who gave us a considerable sum of money to choose a composer to write a piece for us. I immediately thought of Wynton, based on the fact that I had never heard a brass quintet written by this amazing American composer. The two movements on this recording are some of the most exciting, deep, fun and proud compositions we have ever performed. We are honored to have premiered these gems and continue to keep them in our rotation. Peace." - Wayne J. du Maine

“The great trumpeter and friend of mine, Wilmer Wise first turned me on to Wynton Marsalis. Wynton and I met by chance at the New York Musician's Union hall and quickly became good friends - he would come over to my house and we would practice, play duets and hang out together. This was when Wynton was only 18 years old. I recognized his immense talent and would talk about him with basically every musician I knew. I invited him to sit in with me at the New York Brass Conference and I believe that was one of the first times people recorded him on video and he created quite a sensation at the live performance. He actually gave me his band, before it was “his band" - recommending people like Jeff 'Tain' Watts, his brother Branford, Kenny Kirkland, and Clarance C to me. I still work with Tain frequently to this day. Wynton later hired me as lead trumpet in the early days of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and I played with that group for its first 6 years and first major tour. Wynton and I did the 1989 version (recording & video) of Charles Mingus' monumental work, Epitaph, together (along with Dave Taylor) amongst many other wonderful projects. I have a great admiration for him - as a composer, as a band leader, and as one of the greatest virtuosos on trumpet that has ever lived." - Lew Soloff

West Side Story
Composed by Leonard Bernstein 1957, arranged by Jack Gale

“1990. Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. During a performance of Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3, the conductor, Leonard Bernstein, began grasping the podium bannister in order to hold himself up. He was in obvious pain but his complete dedication and love to the eager students in the orchestra only raised the level of the performance to one of the highest in which I have ever participated. Anyone who was there would tell you that this concert was one of the most incredible experiences in orchestral history. This night was to be a warm up for the upcoming European tour with the TMCO and Lenny. After conducting the BSO the following week, Bernstein cancelled the tour due to poor health and soon passed away, leaving America and the world without one of its greatest human beings and ambassadors. I hope that someday, this concert will be released for the world to hear. We miss you Lenny." - Wayne J. du Maine

“Probably the happiest thing about my participation in the making of the New York Now CD (besides loving the cats in the quintet, and the music) is: I've worked with and had personal interaction with all the composers. Here are four memories:

I hung out with my wife, Ronnie, at Leonard Bernstein's apartment one night at a party--Ronnie and I showed up way late because we were interviewing Bar Mitzvah bands for our son Scott's Bar Mitzvah (his sister Jessica is 5 years younger). Bernstein greeted us at the door, asked how come we were so late... and when we told him, he grabbed each of us under an arm and joyfully started singing some of the prayers of that particular service in Hebrew. West Side Story has that same Bernstein moment's unabashed joy built into it. In the suite's saddest and most solemn moments; it is always about uplift. At it's most rhythmic and “topical" moments, it never gets maudlin; it's always sleek. The beautiful arrangements were done by Jack Gale. He and I have worked in trombone sections together since the '60's.

When Daniel Schnyder showed up to the Manhattan Brass with “Euphoria"; he had written himself into the group! Not only did he make us a sextet, using his sax quarter tone solos, but with his deep intellectual insight, humor, and ability to compose without worrying about the aforementioned “consiousnesses." His writing for us is chamber music without preconceived notions of brass “quintetery," and he guaranteed us one of the most innovative brass quintets ever. Again; always uplift, always sleek. Daniel and I have been trio mates (with Kenny Drew Jr) for 15 or more years, and our families have been friends just as long. He knows Lew and I have been great friends for over four decades......and he's seen us in our crazy moments, henceforth: Sarai and Hagar. Daniel knows how to stretch an instrument's technical capability to ways of expression while staying organic.

Paquito D'Rivera's 1997 Grammy award winning CD, “Portraits of Cuba," starts with my bass trombone playing a low C which I decided to play an octave lower than written and perhaps a little louder than expected ("Taaaylor, it's my CD and you get all the attention"). Paquito's humanity, warmth, humor, and deep understanding of both the folk and “high brow" mindset, makes his music totally “chamber-like" and still “of the people." The piece is total joy. Originally written for woodwinds, it translates to brass like a multi genre, smart, small big band. There is one moment in my hangs with Paquito that stands out. At a party he or Chesky Productions threw at the famed Victor's Caf in NY (either after a concert with the band, or to celebrate his Grammy Award); our MOTHERS met.

Lew Soloff introduced me to Wynton Marsalis, when Wynton was at Juilliard. It was a small club uptown and Wynton was a guest in his band. Knowing a good thing when I hear it, I sometime later hung out with Wynton, and asked him if he wanted to start a brass quintet. He was totally into it.....but....then he started playing in Lionel Hampton's band and the rest is history. I reconnected with Wynton by playing in his band, and touring and recording Stravinsky's “L'histoire," and Marsalis' own “Fiddler's Tale." He's a great hang, and a dedicated, wonderful musician. He knows the meaning behind every note he writes. He knows his New Orleans heritage, and uses it with the same humanity, humor, and deep uplift in his music as the other composers on this recording. His Brass Quintet in two movements is the fourth, “real piece from a real place" on our CD. I know every one in Manhattan Brass feels awed and honored that the muse somehow brought all of us and this project together; because this CD really is NEW YORK NOW." - David Taylor


Daniel Schnyder is known as a composer/performer with a dynamic reputation in both jazz and classical fields. He recorded over ten CDs of his own music for Enja Records, Col Legno, Koch Jazz, CCnc, Universal, BIS, TCB, Arabesque and Red Records. As a performer Daniel has toured and recorded with many well known classical musicians, world music artists and jazz players.

Daniel was born 1961 in Zurich, Switzerland and lives in New York City. His orchestral works and his chamber music compositions have been performed and recorded all over the world. Among his credits as a composer are commissions to write compositions for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York, the Tonkuenstler Orchestra in Vienna, the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, The Norrlands Operan in Sweden, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Vienna Art Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zrich (Fourth Symphony, commissioned by David Zinman), the Opera of Bern (Tempest by Shakespeare), the NDR Orchestra in Hannover, the NDR Big Band in Germany, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the New York based new music group Absolute Ensemble under the direction of Kristjan Jrvi (Bass Trombone Concerto for David Taylor) and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra among many others.

The Album Absolution (Enja Nova) featuring Daniel Schnyder's Trombone Concerto received a Grammy nomination for “Best Classical Small Ensemble Recording" in 2002. Daniel toured Europe and Australia with his trio, featuring David Taylor and Kenny Drew Jr. playing the music of Gershwin, Bach, Vivaldi, Wagner and Ellington, in addition to his own new compositions bridging the worlds of classical music and jazz.

He frequently performs with his special chamber music project for saxophone and string quartet, combining composition and improvisation, jazz and traditional chamber music. His Third String Quartet was commissioned by the Carmina Quartet, the Fourth String Quartet was a commission by the Amar Quartett, the Fifth String Quartet a commission by the Stradivari Quartet. Daniel appears as a soloist with orchestras playing his Songbook for Saxophone and Orchestra and his Oriental Suite beside other works. He played Songbook in Germany and Switzerland on a tour with the NDR Radio Philharmonic in November 2006 and with the MDR Orchestra in 2008. In the Fall 2008 he toured with the Saarlaendische Rundfunk Orchestra as a soloist.

The vast catalogue of his chamber music works has been performed by many famous artists like Emmanuel Pahud, Eroica Trio, Schweizer Klaviertrio, Radek Baborak, Borislav Strulev, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Reinhold Friedrich, Carmina Quartet, David Jolley, David Taylor and the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble. He also writes orchestral variations on themes by non-classical music icons like the Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington or Jimi Hendrix, picking up on a 19th-century tradition designing whole programs for orchestras outside the mainstream concert format--as played by the Calgary Symphony, the Absolute Ensemble, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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