Pearl is a brass trio I composed for and about my wife, Pearl. The recording features myself on flugelhorn, Gavin Reed on horn and David Kirk on tuba. The performance was part of David Kirk’s faculty recital at Rice University, where he is the Tuba professor.
My composition teacher at UTEP, Dr. Joseph Packales, used to say that the fewer instruments in the ensemble, the more difficult it is to compose. He said that writing for one instrument was often more difficult than composing an entire symphony. I took that as a challenge and have been writing for small instrumentations ever since.
Over the years, I developed certain conventions that simplify those difficulties and lead to some beautiful music. This trio was one of the first compositions for small ensemble that I felt like I had perfected those conventions.
Aside from the technical aspects of the composition process, this piece obviously has a great deal of personal meaning to me. I composed it when Pearl and I were still “courting”, long distance, her living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and me living in Houston, Texas. When I hear this piece, it reminds me about those times.
It was an honor, a huge honor, that Dave invited me to perform this with him in his faculty recital. It is always a wonderful experience to share the stage with top notch players, but even better when those top notch players are some of the most beautiful people in the world. Dave is a great tuba player, a thoughtful and passionate musician, but most importantly, one of the best people you could ever hope to call a friend.