The Music of Drew Fennell

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for the River City Brass Band, Music Director Denis Colwell
My Tribute
Andrať Crouch, composer
Drew Fennell, arranger


Reflections

This is probably one of the best-loved arrangements I have ever done for the River City Brass Band. I first got to know this tune when I was a teenager. Back then, I studied the harmonies, the elegant voice-leading of the bass line when placed against the melody, the chromaticism of the harmonic structure and especially the way the chords so perfectly amplified the already-impactful words. The song weeps with absolute sincerity. Andrať Crouch, with My Tribute, truly wrote a piece which will live on for a very long time.

I long had wanted to do a setting of this tune, and in early summer of 2002, when my grandmother passed away rather unexpectedly, it just seemed like the right time. She so exemplified the message of the song - not in the austentatious way the piece plays out, but in the quiet and unassuming way a genuinely good person can change the world. And she loved this song. So, in mid-June of 2002, I worked on this, completing it in time to be included on the River City Brass Band's Polished Brass compact disc.

The brass band, with its amazing sonority, is the perfect instrumental idiom for this piece, which reaches a powerful forte and never seems to give up, until the "voice" of the piece, for a moment breaks, allowing for the final dramatic crescendo which concludes the piece.

As always with tunes that have lyrics, I did my best to paint the words. In fact, I think the arrangement would work very well as a vocal solo. I have even gone as far as to consider who might sing it. Outside of the obvious choice of the composer, I suppose my choice would probably be David Phelps, a gospel singer with a powerful voice and an absolutely incredible range.

Sometimes I enjoy sneaking "inside jokes" into my music. While this is a very serious, heartfelt rendition of a serious and heartfelt song, there is a little story that makes me smile - the kind of inside joke that only a true musical nerd could appreciate. A trombonist/composer friend, Jason Malloy, remarked to me while I was working on the arrangement that I never used "two-three" suspensions in my music (resolving up) - always opting for the reverse "four-three" suspensions (resolving down). So, for Jason, I put a couple of very big two-three suspensions in what amounts to the instrumental Amen of the piece. The first time we played the piece in rehearsal, he had a big grin on his face after we finished the reading; he got the joke.

Since the release of the River City Brass Band recording with this piece, I have been flattered to hear (through the grapevine) that Mr. Crouch himself was pleased with the arrangement. While I am personally very gratified to hear that, I think it really has a lot to do with the players on the recording. I remember well the recording sessions which produced Polished Brass, and I recall needing to "dig deep" to find the stamina late in the game to get it on tape.

  • My Tribute (To God Be the Glory) is not published.

  • Hear a short sample of My Tribute (To God Be the Glory) by the River City Brass Band, Denis Colwell, Music Director, from the compact disc recording Polished Brass*.

*Right click on the link and choose Save Target As... to download the file.

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