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Henry Ross Wixon: "Double Quintet"

Double Quintet

Henry Ross Wixon

Born: June 13, 1988, Washington, D.C.

Instrumentation: Double Quintet (combined brass and woodwind quintets)

Composed: 2015-2016

Duration: 11 minutes

Separately, the woodwind and brass quintets are flexible ensembles, capable of astonishing virtuosity and a wide palette of timbres. Their combined force possesses the dynamic potential of a much larger group, yet retains the precision of its smaller halves; I found this identity, somewhere between chamber group and wind ensemble, to be an attractive vehicle for the extended exploration of an initial musical gesture over the course of two connected (and interconnected) movements.

Both halves of Double Quintet begin with gentle counterpoint: the first evolves outwards from a trio of woodwinds, slowly encompassing different and larger ensembles, until all of the performing forces are brought to bear in a rousing scherzo, which forms the bulk of the movement. After a brief transition, the second movement begins with the development of a new gesture; shifting solos and duets chart a descent through the ensemble, ultimately reaching tuba. Before the tuba can complete its statement, however, the trombone interrupts, initiating a frenetic return to a theme from the first movement. The nervous energy of this outburst cannot be sustained, and its momentum breaks down, unraveling into the conclusion of the tuba’s solo. Back on course, the ensemble builds towards a shimmering climax, releasing into a coda that recalls the warmth of the composition’s opening statement.

- Henry Ross Wixon

Wixon is currently a DMA student in composition at the University of Maryland, studying with Robert Gibson and David Froom. His latest project, In Leviathan's Wake for full orchestra, took First Prize in the 2016 Walsum Award for Composition at the University of Maryland, and will be premiered by the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra in May 2017. For more, visit

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