chamber orchestra

Triceros (meaning three horns – i.e. Flugelhorn, Trumpet in C, Piccolo Trumpet) was commissioned by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger to be a response to J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. It literally takes the Bach as its point of departure in that it can follow the Brandenburg without pause, pivoting on the last high C in the Piccolo Trumpet. Following that shared note there is no material in common.

Over a glass of wine, Håkan and I agreed that no instrument depicted solitary melancholy better than the trumpet. This led me to focus on exploring the variety of unusual colors in addition to the bright clarion call of Bach’s Piccolo Trumpet. Like the Triceros jacksonii – aka, three horned chameleon – Håkan moves fluidly from light to dark, vivid to muted, smooth to rough.

Unlike Bach’s modular movement structure, Triceros is in one unbroken movement but with clear delineations between sections that are dense and action packed versus sections that are spacey and spacious.

—Steven Mackey