The title for this piece came from the varied personalities that mutes allow the trumpet to explore. Mutes are similar to masks both in how they’re put on the trumpet physically, and in how they alter the instrument’s identity and character.
Human masks are used in many cultures for just this reason, often conjuring the persona of specific gods. Though in the Christian tradition the role of masks has been largely relegated to Hallowed Eve, commonly celebrated in the U.S. as the secular ritual known as halloween, masks are important vehicles for self-expression. The very word “person” derives from “persona” which is Latin for an actor’s face mask (literally “to sound through”). The psychologist Carl Jung felt, in fact, that people put on various psychological masks to express who they are in different settings.
So this piece, “Masks”, is an exploration of three very different trumpet personas, each movement drawing upon different mutes and ways of approaching the trumpet.
“Masks” was awarded the 2001 International Trumpet Guild Composition Prize. It received its first performance by Frank Campos and Diane Birr at the ITG Conference in Evansville, Indiana