My father loved to sail. Whenever possible, my family would head to the nearest body of water, rent a boat and catch the wind. When we moved to Virginia from South Carolina in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay was that body of water. Years later, when a group of guys from my church in Brookside, NJ decided to organize a sailing trip, I signed up immediately excited about returning to my childhood haunts. Chesapeake is a mosaic of the subsequent three sailing trips from Annapolis to St. Michaels, Maryland sprinkled with a healthy dose of nostalgia. It is strongly programmatic with Movement 1 depicting waking up in Annapolis, preparing the boat, motoring out into the Bay, and setting sail. Movement 2, Full and By, uses a nautical term which in essence means that the sailing was as good as possible with a strong wind and high visibility. Movement 3, Bloody Point, imagines a long-forgotten conflict that occurred on a passing shoreline now occupied by a lighthouse. Movement 4, Crab Claw is an eating establishment in St. Michaels where after a long day of sun and wind, we went to recover with soft shell crabs and a bit too much to drink. Chesapeake was written in 2010 for the American Brass Quintet and is dedicated to my father, Herman Sampson, whose passions were generously shared.
A Family Portrait for brass quintet was written as a gift to my good friend, Scott Mendoker, and his wife, Annie and daughter, Emma. It portrays the energy, humor and love that abounds in this family. Beginning with a gentle interplay between the first trumpet playing on flugelhorn and horn, the second trumpet soon enters with playful counterpoint followed by the trombone and tuba mimicking what has come before. After a few minutes, the piece erupts with a careening horn solo followed by each instrument taking its share of the spotlight ending with several strong definitive chords. A Family Portrait was premiered in Rossmoor, NJ on June 6, 2008, by the Philadelphia Brass: Trumpets – Lawrence Wright, Brian Kuszyk; French Horn – Anthony Cecere; Trombone – Robert Gale; Tuba – Scott Mendoker.