Sonnerie is French for "making sound" or "ring." The term generally applies to bell towers and/or bells in mechanical clocks or watches, and to outdoor music, for example performed by horns before a hunt, or a serenade performed in honor of a special person.
My first composition teacher, back in the mid-1980s, was Donald Erb. Though we didn't always see eye to eye - he was a man of many strong opinions! - he had a large influence on my development as a composer, and I remain grateful for his personal guidance and for the example he set as a professional.
Donald Erb was also a former trumpeter (like myself) and wrote frequently for brass. One of his best such works is Sonneries (1971), for brass choir. Writing this trumpet quartet one year after his death, I couldn't help thinking back on Don, and decided to borrow his title and dedicate the work to his memory.
Regarding the current composition, I wanted to write a piece emphasizing ringing sounds in various ways, playing with resonance, echoes, timbrel modulation, stereo panning, etc., so there is a great deal of imitation and repetition, with musical ideas bouncing back and forth around the quartet. The work was composed for John Rommel and the IU Trumpet Ensemble.