Sparks, and Flame (Ash) for chamber orchestra

Sparks, and Flame (Ash) was composed for the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra’s Spring 1997 tour of Russia.  The piece is in the character of an overture, and opens with “sparks”:  brief, sputtering gestures which are centered around a D pedal-point.  Later, this pedal-point becomes much more rhythmically active, while the “sparks” which fly around it gradually form a chord progression, shaped by a three-note motive.  All of these elements are transformed over the course of the piece and intermittently build to climactic points or, metaphorically, “burst into flame.”  Many of these climactic moments are centered around F, as a nod towards the old relative relationship between D and F in classical tonality.

Towards the end of the piece, there is a brief interlude, presented initially as a horn duet.  The music here is marked “with nostalgia”;  I was imagining the feeling one sometimes gets late at night, while meditating on the shifting flames and sparks of a fire.  Within this more pensive material,  I have incorporated the D-S-C-H motive (which Shostakovich introduced throughout much of his music) as a gentle greeting for the Russian audiences who would hear my composition in Moscow and St. Petersburg.  After the interlude, Sparks, and Flame (Ash) builds back to a high point, before quietly and quickly “burning itself out to ashes.”

Rebecca Burkhardt

Sparks, and Flame (Ash) was composed for Rebecca Burkhardt and the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra.   Begun in December, 1996, it was completed in January, 1997, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  This work has also been performed by the Portland (Maine) Symphony as well as by the Moravian Philharmonic, the latter as a part of the Fourth International Festival of New Music for Orchestra in Olomouc, Czech Republic, in June of 1999.  This work has been recorded by that orchestra, Toshiyuki Shimada, conductor, and is available on the Vienna Modern Masters CD “Music From Six Continents” [VMM 3048] – it may be ordered directly from the composer.

This composition may be purchased below or is available on a rental basis from:

The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music
The Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-1116
tel (215) 686-5313

Date completed:
ca. 4:30

Sparks, and Flame (Ash)

Fleisher Collection (rental agent) [search catalog for "Jeremy Beck"]

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