Apr 16, 2023
A brand new brass premiere shook the stage at the Biola University Conservatory of Music this evening. Maffe's latest concert piece, "Portrait in Brass" was commissioned by his friend Renee Yam, a graduating french horn major.
The music harkens back to Maffe's "The Artisan," a sonic self portrait for symphonic band that premiered back in 2018 (in which Renee played the principal horn line). This time, he turns the camera on Renee as the subject with a composition that illustrates her time at Biola in vivid musical detail. From a soft, reverent introduction, to a romantic theme of peace, the music then descends into a dark and somber place. It becomes feverishly atonal, and almost imbearable in dynamic, then finally settles into a comforting, content restatement of the theme at the end. Renee wanted the music to show her whole experience. Full of passion and anxiety, but with a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I'm honored that she asked me to write her experience into music," Maffe says, "I hope it does justice to her experience and expresses her feelings in a way that words can't."
The grand, unorthodox ensemble consisted of five horns, five trumpets, four flugelhorns, five trombones, one bass trombone, one euphonium, and one tuba.
Recording to be released soon! Until then, the MIDI mockup is available below!