Seven Kings

By David Sanford | For Brass Sextet and Percussion | 19′

Title: Seven Kings
Composer: David Sanford
Year Composed: 2010
Instrumentation: For Three Trumpets, Horn in F, Trombone, Tuba, and Percussion
Duration: 19′
Format: Score in C
Page Size: Letter
Catalog Number: OM0316

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From the composer:

The title of Seven Kings is a reference to Five Kings, a play by Orson Welles, a conglomeration of five (or more?) Shakespeare plays and the basis for the movie Chimes at Midnight (the original title for the piece), all of which is more metaphorical to the real gist of the work which is a modernization of the highly complex King Oliver Creole Jazz Band that featured the very young Louis Armstrong along with the leading New Orleans jazz figure of the time, Joe “King” Oliver. This suggested the additional 3rd improvising trumpet in Seven Kings. The complexity resulted in part from 1) having two cornets instead of one hence a four-part front line polyphony, but also the built-in dialectic of Armstrong brilliantly defining a harmonic/ contrapuntal place between the prescribed New Orleans roles for front line players, and 2) the rapid maturation of Armstrong’s musical genius alongside the physical decline of his mentor Joe Oliver’s. So, I am very loosely placing Oliver in the Falstaff role, with completely different character traits of course (Oliver was no clown, coward or buffoon for one thing), and vastly changing the ending (Movement V) to represent the alleged late meeting where Oliver had long since stopped playing and Armstrong – now the legend we all know – visits him, not to reject him as King Henry does Falstaff, but to honestly reconnect. The composition was writ- ten for the Meridian Arts Ensemble, with whom I have shared a long musical kinship, and for Dave Ballou whose work as a leader, composer, and soloist is an inspiration here.


Commission/Dedication: The piece was commissioned by the Festival of New Trumpet Music for the Meridian Arts Ensemble and made possible by the Chamber Music America Commissioning Program, with funding generously provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
Premiere: First performed by the Meridian Arts Ensemble with Dave Ballou on January 16, 2010 as part of the Festival for New Trumpet Music, at the Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY.
Recording: Recorded on the Innova album Seven Kings by the Meridian Arts Ensemble. Available on Presto, Spotify, Apple Music, and more!

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