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16 July 2024
Preludes, Rags and Cakewalks

The Symphonic Brass of London
Eric Crees (conductor)

Debussy and other French colleagues became fascinated by the ‘ragtime’ music and ‘cakewalks’ beginning to be performed at the end of the 19th century by negro minstrel groups and which gave birth to jazz. The now acknowledged master of ragtime was of course the American composer Scott Joplin, many of whose compositions are featured on this brilliantly performed and recorded CD. World famous trombonist, composer and arranger Eric Crees has researched the performance style of Joplin’s music and its influence on Debussy and other French composers. He has arranged eight of Joplin’s piano pieces for 10 brass players and two percussionists and has similarly arranged a selection of thirteen ragtime and jazz-influenced piano pieces by Debussy, Auric, Milhaud and Satie, providing a highly entertaining and virtuosic series of performances, which often makes one wonder whether this music could ever have been composed in any other way! The Symphonic Brass of London are a hand-picked group of London’s finest brass players whose virtuosity and stylishness has been excellently recorded for MPR by Tony Faulkner (Recording Engineer) and Mike Purton (Producer) in the splendid acoustic of Henry Wood Hall in London. These performers are a must not just for brass players, for lovers of both classical music and jazz but also for audiophiles.


Scott Joplin & Arthur Marshall: Swipesy - Cake Walk Claude Debussy: Golliwogg's Cakewalk Scott Joplin: The Strenuous Life - A Ragtime Two Step Eric Satis: Rag Time Parade Scott Joplin: Solace - A Mexican Serenade Claude Debussy: La Puerta del Vino Darius Milhaud: Rag Caprice No.1 Claude Debussy: Minstrels Claude Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin Georges Auric: Adieu, New York! Scott Joplin: Searchlight Rag - A Syncopated March and Two Step Claude Debussy: des pas sur la neige Eric Satis: La Diva de L'Empire Claude Debussy: Le Petit Nègre Scott Joplin: Weeping Willow - Ragtime Two Step Claude Debussy: Hommage à S. Pickwice Esq. P.P.M.P.C. Scott Joplin: Rose Leaf Rag Eric Satie: Le Piccadilly Scott Joplin: Bethena - A Concert Waltz Claude Debussy: General Lavine - excentric Scott Joplin: Stoptime Rag

Recorded in the Henry Wood Hall, London, UK on 29th & 30th June 2019.
Recording Production & Editing: Mike Purton
Recording Engineering: Tony Faulkner
Design: Hannah Whale, Fruition Creative Concepts
Total Time: 76.53
Release Date: April 2020

The Symphonic Brass of London is a hand-picked ensemble of Britain’s very finest brass and percussion players.

This unique combination of excellence and mastery of varied styles has created an extraordinary ensemble whose musical flexibility is second to none. The Symphonic Brass of London is widely celebrated for the impeccable quality of its orchestral sound and the vibrancy, high energy, pure joy and fun of its music-making. The group have appeared twice on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ and have also led many very successful educational projects and regard this side of its activities as a core element.

Piccolo Trumpets: James Fountain, Chris Deacon
Trumpets: Paul Archibald, Katie Smith
Flugel Horn / Trumpet: Bruce Neckles
Horn: Hugh Seenan
Trombones: Simon Wills, Nick Lloyd
Bass Trombone: Christian Jones
Tuba: Adrian Miotti Percussion: Scott Bywater, Jonathan Kitchen

Eric Crees was born in London and studied at Wandsworth School, where, in the famous boys’ choir, he worked with many distinguished professional orchestras and conductors. Of particular importance was the school’s long association with Benjamin Britten, who wrote a solo part for him in the Children’s Crusade.

While still at school he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and as a student undertook an extensive period of work with the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. Having won the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society’s ‘Joyce Dixey Award’ for composition, he graduated from the University of Surrey with first class honours and joined the London Symphony Orchestra, where he spent twenty-seven years, twenty as Co-Principal Trombone. In September 2000 he was appointed Section Principal Trombone at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In addition to the concert and recording work, he has performed on many of the most iconic film soundtracks, including the first four of the Star Wars series, Superman 1 & 2, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Braveheart, Aliens, Who Killed Roger Rabbit, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter 1, 2 & 3, Willow, Krull, Die Another Day, Rat Race, Life of Brian, An American Tail, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Long Walk to Freedom, as well as dozens more.

As director of London Symphony Orchestra Brass for many years he regularly conducted them at the Barbican Centre and internationally. He has made five CDs with the ensemble: two originally for Collins Classics, American Brass and Cathedral Brass, (re-released as Brass Americana and Sacred Brass on Alto) featuring many of his arrangements, which are also available on LSO Live and three of a world première recording by Naxos Records of the complete forty-three instrumental ensemble sonatas and canzonas of Giovanni Gabrieli, for which he made a new performing edition, available from Brass Wind Publications.

In 2011 Eric edited the complete works that the Belgium composer Paul Gilson wrote for La Fanfare Wagnérienne, a brass group based at the Brussels Conservatory at the turn of the 20th century, using the brass instruments that Wagner used in his Ring Cycle. Extraordinarily, these works have not been performed for 100 years. He has made a world
première recording of them on the Musical Concepts label with Guildhall Brass, released in May 2013.

Since joining Covent Garden, he has directed the Royal Opera House Brass Soloists in concert at the Floral Hall to great critical success and made two recordings for Brass Classics, (On The Town and The Twelve Days of Christmas), which includes many of his carol arrangements sung by the Chorus of the Royal Opera House.

He has also written acclaimed arrangements for The London Trombone Sound and The London Horn Sound, for Cala Records and has worked for many of the world’s most distinguished ensembles and brass bands in concerts, recordings, television and radio broadcasts. His symphonic version of Bernstein’s Suite from West Side Story has been commercially recorded four times. Three of his arrangements have been featured on a Chicago Symphony Brass CD on CSO Live.

Recent original compositions include Silk Street Stomp written for the Guildhall School of Music Big Band and played at a festival of youth big bands at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Two Antiphonal Fanfares performed at the Lord Mayor’s banquet at the Mansion House, Frighteners’ Gallop for 8 horns commissioned by the British Horn Society, Orage for 16 trombones written for Bone Lab and premiered at the Dartington Summer School, The Birth of Conchobar for symphonic brass and percussion for the Ulster Youth Orchestra, Three Sketches from Rackham for flute and harp, Flourish for solo trombone and Carillons for six harps for the Royal Academy of Music Harp Ensemble.

In order to develop and extend his work for the large ensemble, he has formed The Symphonic Brass of London, a hand-picked group of Britain’s finest brass and percussion players who have performed at home and abroad to great acclaim. In January 2014 they released their first CD of French and Spanish music, A Bridge over the Pyrenees. 

Eric is an internationally renowned teacher and is Professor of Trombone, Chamber Music Coach, a regular Conductor of Wind, Brass, Percussion and Choral concerts and repertoire classes at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was made a Fellow in 1991. In September 2014, Eric was awarded Conferment of Title to Professor in acknowledgement of  his national and international standing and outstanding contribution in performing, recording, arranging, composing, the publishing of scholarly
editions, teaching and academic leadership. He is a frequent coach at music colleges and specialist schools both in the UK and abroad, as well as the National Youth Orchestras of Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, the Ulster Youth Orchestra and the Pacific Youth Orchestra in Japan. Many of his students now hold important orchestral and teaching positions
throughout the world.

In March 2014 the International Trombone Association presented him with the prestigious ‘Neill Humfeld Award for Teaching Excellence 2014’ ‘In recognition of his distinguished teaching career and with deep appreciation for the inspiration and example he has provided for trombonists of our time’.

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