KENOCHORIC for brass quintet: a 2023 consortium

How would you describe yourself without using terms like “masculine” and “feminine?”

In a world where many titles, adjectives, and professions are heavily, aggressively gendered, it’s often easy to blithely accept the terms others deem most suitable for us. For some, these fit perfectly, but the words the rest of the world uses to describe us can be an immense pressure no matter how accurate they might be. At a time where self-determination in all its forms is increasingly under threat, it’s more important than ever that we make the effort to dive deep within ourselves and figure out who we want to be—even if the traits and associations that ring true don’t fit neatly into any of the boxes we’re offered.

I’ll be exploring this idea compositionally in 2023 beginning with my brass quintet consortium, titled KENOCHORIC. The brass quintet and its component instruments have historically been cast as masculine, with many of our professional organizations reflecting that decision for generations. Even as studios and sections begin the gradual, long-awaited process of gender diversification, all too often the only two categories folks entertain are “men” and “women” (and in both cases, they’re overwhelmingly white and cisgender). Our repertoire, too, bears continuing evidence of this history: the majority of frequently-programmed works come from the minds and pens of cis men, and gender-marginalized composers sometimes find our work demeaned and diminished simply for pursuing stylistic choices that deviate from (or do not clearly connect back to) the brass writing of forefathers we may or may not claim as influences.

Luckily, I know that many world-class brass performers and educators are eager to explore the outer limits of where our ensembles can go, and by explicitly framing this consortium in an exploratory light, I hope to allow for freer discussions not only of the types of music we play but also of the pieces of ourselves we bring to the horn. KENOCHORIC will ask the quintet to reorient their artistic minds to consider: how might the ensemble make compelling music while working beyond the parameters of traditional quintet techniques?

Text reads: "KENOCHORIC: A Consortium for Brass Quintet. An advanced work for brass quintet focusing on liminal spaces, exploring the self, background noise, framings beyond "masculine" and "feminine," the permanency of realization, darkness as a state of possibility rather than a state of fear, emptiness, and the selves we find in the quiet.
12-20 minutes, in 3-5 movements. A variety of notational styles and brass techniques may be used (a thorough style guide will be provided). Register by June 20, 2023. Delivery on or before June 30. All Tiers: recognition in score, 1yr performance exclusivity, techniques & notation guide, PDF copy of score/parts, intro video on request. Standard Tier ($250): virtual rehearsal visit/recording review, discount for next brass consortium. Student Tier ($125): free copy of Supernova, discount code for more brass music. Info: Join the consortium:" Two head shots are included on the poster. On the left is "Composer: Eris DeJarnett (ey/they)," a white nonbinary person with a brown buzz cut and a black leather jacket who is raising an eyebrow while leaning against a cinder block wall. On the right is "Consortium Lead: Matthew Onstad (he/him)," a white man with short, dark brown hair and a button-up shirt who is gently smiling at the camera while holding a silver trumpet.

I’m far from the first to intentionally set chamber brass in an experimental setting, but I believe one of the most important parts of my practice is to create work (musical and not!) that inspires and enables musicians to work on their own terms with techniques and artistic approaches they might not have had access to during their formal training. KENOCHORIC will be among the most artistically demanding of my endeavors to date, but I hope by blending the familiar with the less familiar, my colleagues in the brass world will find it a worthy challenge.

The piece itself will be divided into three to five movements, with a total run time somewhere between twelve and twenty minutes. The work will be designed to push ensembles toward new-to-them considerations, blending traditional Western notation and technique with noise-based timbres, extended techniques, and various notation styles. To assist performers as they dig into the music, all consortium members will receive a video introducing the notation and techniques—in addition to the detailed performance notes I’ll provide in the score.

I invite performers who join the KENOCHORIC consortium to think about this work not as something that will fill a predictable, perhaps cookie-cutter spot on a program but instead as a work that may have many different applications in permutations we have yet to imagine. Want to program the movements separately as you learn them? Sounds great! Saving it for your outdoor concert in a boomy space? Awesome! Not sure what you’d do with it or where you’d put it, but interested in finding out? We’re happy to have you with us all the same.

Consortium Timeline

The KENOCHORIC consortium is led by my fearless collaborator Matthew Onstad. His ensemble, the Whitewater Brass Quintet, will give the formal world premiere of the work in Fall 2023 (we’ll announce the exact date as soon as we’ve got it). Here’s what you can expect along the way:

  • Beginning today, signups are open. Please add both my email and Matthew’s (they’re listed on the signup form) to your contacts so our messages get to you!
  • Contracts and payment info for all members will be sent out beginning in mid-February.
  • I’ll send update emails in March and May to give consortium members a behind-the-scenes look at KENOCHORIC as it’s built.
  • Contracts and payments are due no later than June 20, 2023. You’ll get the score and parts no later than June 30!
  • All consortium members will enjoy exclusivity through June 30, 2024. At the end of the exclusivity period, if I create an updated edition of the score, all members will receive it free of charge.

Sound good so far? Fantastic. For this consortium, we’re running two tiers: student and standard.

Standard Tier: $250

As math nerds can attest, if you’re splitting the cost equally among your ensemble, that’s $50/member. As part of your consortium membership, you’ll get the following:

  • a PDF copy of KENOCHORIC (score and parts)
  • Recognition in the score
  • Performance exclusivity through June 30, 2024
  • Techniques & notation overview video
  • Virtual visit/recording review of one ensemble rehearsal
  • Discount code for my next brass consortium, usable by all members
  • On request: recorded video introducing KENOCHORIC to your audience
  • Studio copies available at this tier for $30 each

Student Tier: $125

To qualify for the Student Tier, at least three of your members must be current students, and we must be able to verify that status. If that’s you, though, you’ll get a few goodies I picked out specifically for you:

  • a PDF copy of KENOCHORIC (score and parts)
  • Recognition in the score
  • Performance exclusivity through June 30, 2024
  • Techniques & notation overview video
  • Free copy of Supernova, my 2014 brass quintet
  • Discount code applicable to all of my brass music
  • On request: recorded video introducing KENOCHORIC to your audience

In extenuating circumstances, I may be able to offer a virtual visit to a Student Tier ensemble or a discount code to a Standard Tier group. Once we get into the exclusivity period, if you’d like to explore accessing a benefit offered to the other tier, let me know. My ability to fulfill these requests will depend heavily on my availability at the time, but I’m happy to work things out with individual groups wherever possible!

Join the Consortium

To reserve your spot, fill out the Google Form below. In the next few days following your registration, Matthew will be in touch to say hello. Within a couple weeks, I’ll follow up with your formal contract, which one member of your group (the person who registered) will sign. Once you return your signed contract to me and pay your consortium fee, your spot will be locked in, and at the end of June, you’ll get your copy of KENOCHORIC and access to your full slate of benefits!

Please note: I am only set up to accept payments in full for this project. Matthew and I have intentionally included a long payment period—from February through June 20—so if you need some time to get your funds together, you’ve got it. If we haven’t gotten your payment by late May/early June, we’ll be in touch with a reminder nudge.

If you have questions, reach out to either me or Matthew. Our emails are included in the sign-up form linked below. We’re both looking forward to this project, and we can’t wait to have you on board!

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(If you want to hear a little about the creative process and join me for some of my research for the piece, come join me on my Twitch stream at on Friday, February 3 at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern. For information on past consortiums, click here.)