Spark was written in the summer of 2010 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Barshinger Concert Hall’s renovation. The title of this short work refers to the burst of energy and enthusiasm that the renovation created and the subsequent growth and activity that the F&M Music Department has experienced during the 10 years since the opening of this exceptional space. The opening music suggests that work on the hall has begun. An industrious texture is pushed along by an insistent knocking motive played on the taiko drum with marimba, harp and other busy ostinato passages supported by the full string section. The knocking suggests hammering on the door of the old hall when the time arrives for demolition, and the knocking sound continues periodically during construction as the piece progresses. The knocking returns near the end when the renovation is completed and the public demands to be admitted.  After the initial buildup, the winds join gradually with solo lines and tutti interjections for the entire section. Once the brass interrupts with eager fanfare-like passages, the spark is truly ignited. Aside from a few more lyrical and reflective moments, the hectic pace continues to build toward a full and unbridled conclusion. This final section, in which everyone alternates virtuosic solo playing with forceful unison chords for the entire orchestra, reflects the idea that both before and after the opening of the hall, many individually talented voices have combined to create a vibrant musical community that expresses a dynamic whole.


November 8, 2011: Premiere, Franklin & Marshall College Orchestra, Barshnger Center, Brian Norcross conductor.

© John Carbon 2015