Suite for Brass was inspired by two great and related literary works of the Middle Ages: Boccaccioʼs Decameron and Chaucerʼs Canterbury Tales. In both, the “players” are thrown together entirely by accident (whether to avoid the plague or on a pilgrimage) but take advantage of the situation to share their stories and thus pass the time. Suite for Brass is a light work—a kind of divertimento—in which I treat the brass quintet as an ad hoc band, come together to entertain themselves and each other.
I suggest the following choreography to accompany performances:
During the first “Sinfonia,” Trumpets 1, 2, Horn and Trombone begin offstage, at the back of the hall, and slowly make their way through the audience to the stage while playing the first 48 measures of music. Players begin on the sides of the hall opposite to those on which they are seated onstage, so that they cross when they reach the stage. By measure 49 all players are seated onstage. The Tuba is seated onstage throughout.
During the first two measures of “Echo,” the Horn rises and takes a place center stage in front of the ensemble. The Horn plays the whole of the movement standing thus, and does not return to her seat until the Tuba begins movement IV.
At the beginning of the final “Sinfonia” (or around measure 25, depending on the size of the stage), Trumpets 1, 2, Horn and Trombone rise and slowly begin their exit through the back or sides of the stage. Players leave on the sides of the stage opposite to those on which they are seated, so that they cross as they are leaving the stage. By measure 49 these four players have left the stage. Again, the Tuba is seated onstage throughout. Beginning at measure 49, the Tuba should balance his sound with that of the offstage instruments.