Aurora, Sonata No. 1 for Violoncello
  • Aurora, Sonata No. 1 for Violoncello
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Impressionism. That is the name given to the style of wonderful artists as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Berthe Morisot and composers as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Erik Satie. Monet’s painting “Impression, Sunrise” would give the name to this movement. Debussy and Ravel hated this term, while Satie preferred Dadaism; however, it has been analogous with their music for over a century. These composers have been a major influence in my compositional life. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Deux Arabesques have stuck with me since hearing them. Satie’s Gymnopedie harmonic texture makes me smile every time I hear it. It’s rhythmically not challenging, but yet such an inspiring composition. Around my senior year in college, I went to the University of Michigan University Symphony Orchestra concert of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe Suite 2. This was the first time I heard an orchestra piece by Ravel. I was mesmerized. The trade of the flutes and clarinets in the beginning with the violas and cellos underneath was one of the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard. I immediately went to the classical music store right off campus and bought Pierre Boulez’s recording of

Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” Daphnis et Chloe. Let’s just say I’ve bought it three times since! My best friend Dr. Earl Brooks and I drove from Denver/Aurora to Aspen. This route on I-70 has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the country. The water from the mountains, the mountains, the ski resorts, the trees, the sunrise/sunset, and the landscape were just breathtaking. It stayed this awesome for the entire three hours. I parallel the painting “Impression, Sunrise” with the word “Aurora.” Aurora means “Dawn” which coincidently is also the sunrise. There are some points in Aurora that are unbelievable, although all of what I have seen in Colorado is majestic. Finally, one can’t mention the word “aurora” without mentioning the Aurora Borealis, which is also one of the beautiful natural phenomena in the world. With Aurora, I wanted to write a piece that showed my gratitude to these composers, as if I was a student of theirs and align that with the beauty of Colorado. I had the honor of being commissioned by Weston Sprott, trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera, to write this piece (I am forever grateful to you, good sir). Several years later, I was inspired after talking to my great friend Leo Eguchi to revisit this composition. I knew I could paint a better picture of the story I wanted to tell (no pun intended). I made a cadenza specifically for Leo, embracing great memories of his senior recital. Then I had the inspiration to make a version for Esther Williams on English Horn. Now, I have decided to make versions for a multitude of instruments. As I did my other chamber piece such as Boanerges and The Vivid Dawn, I thoroughly enjoyed revising and recomposing this piece. I believe that Aurora though difficult, will be a rewarding experience for the player. Musically Yours, Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes

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The Vivid Dawn: Rondo for Flue, Clarinet, and Violonccello
  • The Vivid Dawn: Rondo for Flue, Clarinet, and Violonccello
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You have no chops!” Those were the illustrious words by my professor, Bright Sheng, during only my second lesson with him. I was speechless. Who was I though to argue with this award-winning composer? I had to be humble and just learn.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Composition Department chair, William Albright, had suddenly died. He was key to me being accepted into the program. A great composer, a wonderful person, gone. It was only the third week of school.

Amongst the big shuffle of students in the composition department, I was then switched to Prof. James Aikman’s studio. After a debacle of a start, Prof. Aikman would be the professor at the University of Michigan who also had the most profound impact on my technique. This would coincide with him always pushing me to write more chamber music. It wasn’t something that came to me. I generally wrote large works; it’s what I listened to daily. My CD playlist was Beethoven symphonies, Strauss tone poems, Respighi’s trifecta, and John Williams’ scores.

I did eventually (per my grade) write a chamber work. I decided on a “flute trio” for my friends: flautist Susan Giroir, clarinetist Monica Berckley (Jacobsen), and cellist Leo Eguchi.
Surprisingly, it was well-received. Even Prof. Sheng smiled and only said one word to me. “Chops!”

Still, I wasn’t happy with this piece. After that premiere, I wouldn’t listen to it for another 22 years. Over time, I would often listen to the chamber music of Shawn Okpebholo, Jason Woodruff, Blaire Ziegenhagel, George Morrison, and James Grant. Their music would habitually encapsulate my mind. They made such beauty with small groups. Eventually, it brought me to revise ‘The Vivid Dawn.”

Coming from the piece’s original source, this composition draws from the sunrise view from Belle Isle overviewing the city of Detroit. The “B” section is watching the view from my home in Russell Woods. As the “A” section returns, the “C” pays more attention to the birds on the beach playing. The “D” section is the traffic trying to get on Belle Isle as the weather warms and all its congestion. The final A is the journey home after an eventful day.

As I did my other chamber piece “Boanerges,” I thoroughly enjoyed revising and recomposing this piece. I believe that “The Vivid Dawn,” though difficult, will be a rewarding experience for this trio.

Musically Yours, Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes, PhD

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Fanfare Giacoso for Brass Quintet
  • Fanfare Giacoso for Brass Quintet
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Fanfare Giacoso was written for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra by the humble request of Maestro Timothy Verville. Although composed during the most trying times in most of our lifetime, this composition is meant to be joyful and electric for the brass quintet. The tempo can be performed between 120 – 144 BPM. I am thankful to Maestro Verville and the GSO Brass Quintet for this opportunity.

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Boanerges, for Tuba/Euph Ensemble or Trombone Choir
  • Boanerges, for Tuba/Euph Ensemble or Trombone Choir
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Velvet Brown, tuba extraordinaress, told me something in the year 2000 A.D. that would make any composer of any stature smile. “Write the studio something and we’ll play it.” Being a campus minister at that time, I drew inspiration from the following scripture:

Mark 3:17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”)

The sound of thunder I knew could be truly represented by a collection of euphonium and tubas easily. It was an honor to write for her studio.

Several years later, Richard White, another tubist of pure awesomeness, and I were talking about Tuba/Euph ensemble music. I had mentioned that I needed to rewrite “Boanerges,” develop it more and make it longer. He also said those words a composer wants to here, “Send it to us and we’ll play it.”

I thoroughly enjoyed recomposing this piece. I believe that “Boarnerges,” though difficult, will be a rewarding experience for the Tuba/Euph ensemble.

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Tribute to Sinfonia
  • Tribute to Sinfonia
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For Low Brass Quartet! On November 22, 1995, I joined the Epsilon Chapter (University of Michigan) of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. For those who don’t know, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is the world’s oldest and largest secret national fraternal society in music. Sinfonia was born on October 6, 1898, at the New England Conservatory in Boston, when a group of thirteen young men under the guidance of Ossian Everett Mills met “to consider the social life of the young men students of that institution [and] to devise ways and means by which it might be improved.” Sinfonia became a national fraternity on October 6, 1900, with the admission of a group of men at the Broad Street Conservatory in Philadelphia. For over a century, Sinfonians in nearly every field of study and professional endeavor have transformed music in America. The opportunity of becoming a Sinfonian is offered to as many men as possible who, through a love for music, can assist in the fulfillment of the Fraternity’ s Object and ideals either by adopting music as a profession or by working to advance the cause of music in America. Although the University of Michigan is in Ann Arbor, I was actually initiated at Michigan State University with their initiates along with Central Michigan and Alma College. I saw then the amazing brotherhood within our province. My time with the brothers of Epsilon was some of the greatest in my life, many of which I am still in contact with to this every day. Decades later, I am still active with Sinfonia as Chapter Advisor for Xi Eta (Morehouse College). My composition professor, Dr. James Aikman, who is also a Sinfonian, encouraged me daily to write more chamber music. I came up with the idea to write a composition based on our hymn for Low Brass Quartet for my good friends Kristof Schneider, Jesse Johnston and Anthony Halloin (with myself on euphonium) during my senior year in college I always felt I could do more with my development of the tune, but I never did. I must give the biggest “Thank You” to Demondrae Thurman for introducing me to Mike Roylance, a fellow Sinfonian who has given me this most honorable opportunity to rewrite this composition for this illustrious quartet. I must also give a “Thank You” to Toby Oft, Steve Lange, and James Markey for also agreeing to perform Tribute to Sinfonia. How serendipitous the occasion since this will be premiered by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, whose founder was Henry Lee Higginson, a Sinfonian, and Phi Mu Alpha was founded in Boston.

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