Chronicle features new and previously unrecorded works for solo tuba and tuba-euphonium ensemble by Douglas Briley, Christopher Wiggins, Anthony O'Toole, Jim Self, Bruce Yurko, and Zach Collins.
Doug Briley is a talented pianist, composer, and is now CEO of a successful marketing agency in Texas. We attended the same church while I was in high school and he led the church orchestra. Doug offered to write me a piece, which I was able to premiere as an undergraduate student at Texas Christian University. Zachary Variations is a modern theme and variations, structured using the standard form. While the melody and harmony is quite tonal, it is not as predictable as brass players are accustomed to with Clarke and Arban.
Published by Jabez Press
Christopher Wiggins and his "Soliloquy X" first came on my radar when the piece was included on the repertoire list for the 2005 Leonard Falcone International Tuba Euphonium Festival. “Soliloquy X” is a superbly composed test piece for unaccompanied tuba that requires many of the same technical abilities of works like Penderecki’s “Capriccio” and Kraft’s “Encounters,” but with a more accessible form and tonality. "Soliloquy X" has stayed in my recital repertoire since that Falcone competition and has remained one of my favorite pieces to play, both for its effectiveness in performance, and for the challenges it poses to me.
Published by Studio Music
Anthony O’Toole is a 2011 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate student, he already showed an unbelievable talent as a composer, creating a number of chamber ensembles as well as two tuba concertos and a euphonium concerto. Since that time he has continued to create an astounding catalog of works for every setting, small to large. Chronicle was composed for IUP alumnus, Jon Wylie.
Published by Cimarron Music Press
Jim Self is best known as a studio musician in Los Angeles, performing on movie soundtracks for many of the leading film composers. He also holds positions with a number of orchestras in Southern California. To date, he has released 15 solo and chamber albums of his own. Dozeanddeeze is a one-movement work, originally written for solo trombone and piano. Jim Self reworked the composition for solo tuba in 2018. As with most of Jim Self’s compositions, the piece features humor, virtuosic passages, and moves between a variety of styles and grooves over the course of this short piece.
Published by Jim Self Music (ASCAP)
Music for Solo Tuba
Bruce Yurko has long been a friend of the music department at IUP, where I teach. In 2014 the IUP bands happened to be performing two of his band works on a concert that also included me performing a concerto by another composer. Following the concert Bruce generously offered to write a solo for me, resulting in this five movement composition for unaccompanied tuba. The five short movements in “Music for Solo Tuba” are distinct character pieces. There is a constant tension throughout the first movement, created by a slowly moving melody snaking through the lower register of the tuba. This snake-like melody is interrupted by a fanfare that grows in intensity until leading back to the original melody. Movement 2 has the feel of a tune one might whistle while walking down the street. The third movement is unsettled, with fitful, rapid interjections in a diminished tonality. The fourth movement is a sweet lament, followed by a rollicking final movement that joins elements of the jollity of the second movement with the intensity of the third.
Published by Cimarron Music Press
Scherzo for Piccolo Trumpet, Tuba and Piano
Scherzo was written for trumpeter Richard Stewart and tubist Skip Gray. Valery Strukow was a Russian composer who wrote a number of concerti, including a tuba concerto, as well as works for chamber ensembles and orchestras. I came upon this piece in 2014 when I had the honor or performing on a concert at the Moscow Conservatory given in memory of Alexey Lebedev. I heard two fantastic young Russian brass musicians perform the piece. Later that year I was happy to perform it for the first time myself with one of my closest friends, James McClarty, whom I grew up with in Texas and is now a member of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band. Scherzo is a light trio that offers virtuosic and lyric passages for all three players.
I am thankful to the teachers that I have had over the years who have encouraged me to arrange and compose music. While I don’t consider myself a composer, I do think that developing the ability to arrange and compose has given me a skill that is invaluable in my position as a university professor. I can write music that is adapted to the specific ability levels of my students, challenges them where they are, and is hopefully fun to play. My first composition that met success is Cinematic Fantasy, a six-part ensemble composed for the IUP Tubaphonium Ensemble in 2009. My aim was to write a piece that seemed to tell a story by using the harmonies and devices found in movie soundtracks. In 2012 I composed an eight-part ensemble, Angle East, for my students. The title to this driving piece doesn’t actually mean anything. It was inspired by a conversation I had with the students who gave the first performance of the piece. The next time you see me or one of those students, ask us and we’d be happy to tell you the story. White Keys, a quartet composed in 2015, found its origin with the purchase of a piano for our home. I am a dreadful pianist, but I enjoy plunking out harmonic progressions. Because of my lack of piano playing ability, I am often limited to the white keys, on which the opening section of this piece can be played entirely.
All three compositions published by Cimarron Music Press
Where to find chronicle
Amber Shay Nicholson
IUP Alumni Tubaphonium Ensemble
Mixing and Mastering
Recorded in Fisher Auditorium, Indiana University of Pennsylvania January 17-18, 20-21, February 17, 2019.
Recorded using the Miraphone Elektra F tuba.
Thanks to my colleagues at IUP that helped make this project a reality: Stephanie Caulder, David Ferguson, David Surtasky, Dan Alberts, and the IUP Sabbatical Committee. Thank you to Christian Niedermaier and the Miraphone Corporation for supporting me. Thank you to all of the composers featured on this album - you are the true artists. Most of all, thank you to my family, who put up with the endless hours of practicing day after day, year after year.
Ever since Doug Briley wrote “Zachary Variations” for me it had always been in the back of my mind to undertake recording a solo album. Over the years, I have had the good fortune of having friends, colleagues, and students who have written solos and chamber pieces for me to perform. However, the time and resources needed to complete a solo album have always seemed to be just out of reach. Thankfully, IUP awarded me a sabbatical for spring 2019, during which, with the help of many friends, I was able to complete this project. My hope is that this album brings a collection of solo works and a few chamber ensembles to the tuba-euphonium community that can find a place on recital programs.
Chronicle is dedicated to the teachers to whom I am indebted for their influence and example to me: Richard Murrow, Jim Self, Tommy Johnson, Norm Pearson, Doug Tornquist, and Gale Rask.
IUP TUBA AND EUPHONIUM STUDIO