Toying (2012) - For Solo Trumpet
Playlist of movements 1-3 from the Albany Records release:
For Solo Trumpet
Commissioned by Le Train Bleu
Composed for, and dedicated to, trumpeter Hugo Moreno
“Toying” for unaccompanied trumpet was commissioned by the New York-based ensemble Le Train Bleu, to be premiered on a concert focused on the themes of play and playthings. In composing the piece, I approached the concept of “toys” by taking to heart both a sense of playfulness but also the vivid worlds toys inspire in the minds of those who play with them. In my piece, I treat the solo trumpet as a puppet, and think of the work as a series of duets for trumpet and performer (between puppet and puppet master), but also as duets between the trumpet and its own mechanics.
The first movement, “Wind-Up,” imagines a wind-up toy scurrying about a room. I imagined someone winding up the toy, setting it on the floor and watching it gleefully totter around on its own until it runs into a wall. The person then winds up the toy again, and sets it off on its own as it has its own adventures around the room, occasionally bumping into other walls, and finally unwinding itself. In this movement, the performer is asked to unscrew the trumpet’s first valve-cap so that a metallic clicking sound occurs when the valve is pressed. Here there is a duet between the rhythms of the valve clicks and the quiet sounds of the trumpeter playing through a practice mute.
The second movement, “Elegy for a Toy Soldier,” is a memorial ode to a fallen toy soldier. As a child, I had a number of small, metal toy soldiers, each less than an inch tall, that I sent heroically into battle. To my young self, these soldiers had rich lives and distinctive character, and so I have composed an elegy of deserving solemnity to the memory of these tiny souls. In this movement, the trumpeter removes the first valve slide entirely, so that when the first valve is pressed, the trumpet sounds out of the open valve-slide hole with a tiny, slightly detuned sound. I compose a duet that alternates these sounds with the normal sounds of the trumpet, to create the allusion of a toy trumpet saluting a toy soldier.
The final movement, “Ventriloquizing,” treats the trumpet as a puppet and the performer as its ventriloquist. The trumpet takes on many guises in the movement acting as different characters in a sort of theatrical skit. The movement is filled with vocal effects using the plunger mute, and other effects that coax various sounds of the instrument.
“Toying” is written for, and dedicated to, trumpeter Hugo Moreno.