Sinfonia for chamber orchestra was composed throughout 1996-1997. The title derives from the Greek syn (‘together’) and phone (‘sounding’). The term was used from the late Renaissance to the present for a wide variety of genres, mostly instrumental, and has also been used by twentieth-century composers (Britten, Berio) to describe a work that is lighter than a symphony. Mr. Carbon had in mind the Franklin & Marshall College Orchestra while composing the work. The way the group has grown both in numbers and ability is reflected in the music he composed for them. The use of solo and duet material juxtaposed with full orchestra was exploited out of a desire to feature some of the excellent individual musicians in the group.

Mr. Carbon was thinking more of a collection of short stories than a novel when he settled on the overall form of the work. The five short movements share motives but are separate worlds that hopefully compliment one another even though they tell different stories. The darker, more dramatic-abstract style employed in the Introduction and Twilight Piece gives way to a lighter, parodistic vein in the Rondo. The opening of the Passacaglia returns to the depths, but the mood modulates into a lighter more scherzo-like feeling towards the end, which provides a transition to the jubilant mood of the bustling moto perpetuo Finale.

(notes by Theodore Tzirimis)

Selected Performances of Sinfonia

Premiere: January 30, 1999, F&M Philharmonia, Brian Norcross, Director, Miller Recital Hall, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

© John Carbon 2015