Brad Edwards
Circadian Suite:
6 tenor and 2 bass trombones

Phoenix, AZ, United States
Date of Publication: 2019

Score and parts


This work, for 6 tenor and 2 bass trombones, was commissioned by Tennessee Tech and the University of Delaware, and at the time of writing, is scheduled for its premiere on March 2, 2019. Stylistically, it lies somewhere between jazz and ‘The Rite of Spring.’ It is cast in two parts and each Suite has three sections. All parts call for straight mutes and are in bass clef; 1st part lies almost entirely above the staff and tops out at d². The term circadian rhythm refers to the natural sleep/wake cycle common to almost all living things.

Night Suite [10:40]
1. Night Falls (…and the goblins emerge) [3:30] 
2. Lying awake (with persistent thoughts) [3:40] 
3. Amygdala firing (and no dream is safe) [3:30]

The first section is marked Ominous and there is a disconcerting suggestion of something not nice out there. Upper parts are muted in the first seven measures and again at m31. Eighth notes have marcato markings and there is a high level of dissonance. The first chord contains the notes f, c, b-flat and d-flat, and is marked ff. There are glissandi in the two upper parts. 1st and 2nd have muted solos at m65.

Lying Awake recalls the ‘noctium phantasmata’ of the 7th century hymn ‘Te lucis ante terminum.’ It is a lyrical movement, somewhat like a folk-song, with prominence of the Lydian 4th. Somehow, 1st part, topping out at b¹, sounds lonely. The third section, Amygdala firing, is a crazy mixture of styles at ♩=156. There are frequent meter changes, including a march and a waltz, and in the final section, marked ‘startling,’ much use of syncopated and highly accented irregular rhythms and glissandi. The composer notes that ‘the amygdala is a portion of the brain connected with powerful emotions. It can become very active during sleep.’

 Day Suite [9:15]
1. Fanfare for the New Day (...and you're late) [3:00] 
2. Leisurely Park Lunch (with a glass of Glass) (sic!) [4:10]
3. Driving It Home (and beating the rush) [2:05]

Fanfare for the New Day is marked Stately and inevitable ♩=72. We are on our way to work, with a catchy tune basically in C major and a propulsive rhythm. Leisurely Park Lunch is at ♩=66. Presumably there is a reference here to something by Philip Glass, in G major with no accidentals, and makes much use of oscillating thirds. It ends quietly on a solitary b. Driving It Home is marked Frantic, driving ♩=168 and is in B-flat. We’re moving fast. A few stalled moments at lights, and a honk or two from other impatient drivers, but we’re back up to speed, now in compound meter, 6/8 + 2/4. In the final section, repeated high b-flat eighths in 1st part, arriving home fortissimo on a B/b-flat unison.

This exceedingly original piece is a great addition to the repertoire for advanced players. I think it will prove to be a popular selection. Brad Edwards was born in 1963. He has performed widely as a trombone soloist and currently teaches at Arizona State University. He is known for his numerous pedagogical works and short audition solos.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published November 18, 2019