for Brass Quintet

Written: 2015
Duration: ca. 18'
Instrumentation: brass quintet (two trumpets, French horn, trombone, bass trombone or tuba)
Commissioned by the American Brass Quintet and Rick Teller
World Premiere: American Brass Quintet, Aspen Music Festival, Harris Concert Hall, July 28, 2015.
World Premiere Recording: PerspectivesAmerican Brass Quintet, Summit Records, DCD 692, 2017.
Publisher: Bill Holab Music

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My father is a sculptor who worked with bronze, so as a child, I was always hanging around the foundry at the school where he taught, watching him cast bronze sculptures by pouring crucibles of molten metal into giant molds. In many ways, this is probably what caused me to have an affinity for brass instruments and metallic percussion instruments such as bells. There’s just something about metal, and the sounds metal instruments make, that I find very captivating.

Shine is in four movements and explores colorful aspects of four different types of metal: brass, gold, mercury and steel. The first movement, Ringing Brass Bells, is bell-like from beginning to end, with brief episodes of repeated note flourishes, creating a sort of brief fanfare. The title of this movement is also a double entendre, referring the the bells of the brass instruments. The second movement, Quicksilver, is scherzo-like and fast. In this movement, I explore colorful, metallic sonorities using a variety of mutes and fast trills, and the movement gradually rises in tessitura from beginning to end like mercury rising in a thermometer. The third movement, Veins of Gold, is a slow movement that begins and ends softly, and focuses on the melodic capabilities of each instrument, almost like a mini concerto for brass quintet. The last movement, Bright Blue Steel. is powerful and fast from beginning to end, and contains runs that emulate something moving at a very fast speed. The term ‘blue steel’ refers to the color "steel blue," and also refers to a tempering process in metallurgy used to reduce brittleness and increase toughness in objects made of steel.

Shine was commissioned by the American Brass Quintet and with generous support from Rick Teller.

Press Quotes

The four movements of Robert Paterson’s Shine are evocative portraits of metals – brass, mercury, gold and steel – as depicted in contrasting atmospheres and instrumental techniques, including the deft use of mutes.
— Gramophone
In the more than two decades I’ve been coming to Aspen, Tuesday’s program was perhaps the best. The quintet’s clear sound and precise articulation let the music speak with big-time personality—and the works brought plenty of personality. Among the highlights [was] a world premiere, Shine, for Brass Quintet, by Robert Paterson... Premieres and new pieces are something of a regular occurrence in the quintet’s concerts here, but this one was something different. Paterson challenged the members of the quintet with difficult solo and ensemble passages, all in service of colors that made joyful use of everything brass instruments can do. Mutes, glissandos and brief fanfares all played roles in four very different movements. The first emphasized staccato playing, all brightness, and the second cast the brass as chorale singers in interwoven lines. The third, a scherzo, explored contrasts between open and muted sounds, and the finale raced hell-bent for brilliance—and achieved it.
— Aspen Times / MusicWeb, Seen and Heard International
Rob Paterson’s brass quintet, Shine, is a powerful, exciting addition to our repertoire, and a challenging, rewarding and effective piece that has stopped the show at every performance. Rob was a joy to work with, listening to our suggestions as he tweaked technical issues while maintaining the integrity of his music. We felt like he became a sixth member of the American Brass Quintet!
— American Brass Quintet
The next piece [on the Atlantic Brass Quintet program] was “Shine” by Robert Paterson. Each of this work’s four movements recall the composer’s impression of a certain type of metal, from the amorphous metallic sheen of liquid quicksilver to the shimmering contours of a brass instrument. The music was extremely evocative of this, aided by the impeccable musical sensitivity of ABQ.
— Jay Mackenzie, The Lawrentian
...nothing short of magnificent... The first movement, “Ringing Brass Bells,” is expressed in clarion bell tones and fleet, articulated signals that fly back and forth between the two trumpets. Syncopated splashes of horn and trombone drive the movement with beautifully matched articulations, and the bass trombone anchors the group with confident energy. “Quicksilver” swirls with mercurial jocularity. Harmon-muted wah-wahs, sinuous sextuplets, and flutter-tongued bleats all come together with flawless technique, intonation, balance, and style. “Veins of Gold” is an inspiring display of seamlessness as one instrument hands off to the next with lyricism and elegance. Each of the solo lines seems to challenge the next to higher standards of beauty. “Bright Blue Steel” is a completely engaging, cinematic-sounding vignette that exemplifies the pleasures of virtuoso chamber music. Here ABQ gives an enthusiastic performance of a terrific piece.
— The Horn Call, journal of the International Horn Society
As heard on this wonderfully engineered disc, the ABQ’s sound is both immaculately blended and thrilling in terms of sonic punch. You hear it in the first movement of Robert Paterson’s Shine, a joyous five-minute sequence of bell-like fanfares. Subsequent movements make imaginative use of mutes and rapid tonguing, before an unambiguously positive close. It’s highly appealing.
[Shine] demanded bravura playing. The program portrayed the characteristics of metals. Ringing Brass Bells was more varied than I might have imagined. Quicksilver delineated an atmosphere of liquid flux in stable and unstable situations; here was deep, mellow drama with a shimmering silver shine. Veins of Gold ran even slower with luxurious meditation; I found this vein to be the most exciting. Bright Blue Steel was more extroverted (as one would expect) yet it left me cold as steel usually does.
— The Millbrook Independent