It only takes a spark to start something big.
Set around a 6 note motif, “Spark!” represents the chain of events that can happen as an idea is brought to life from a singular seed. The piece evolves from this idea and eventually takes on a life of its own, growing organically as the piece proceeds to its full-blown, exciting conclusion.
Winner of the 2016 Claude T. Smith Memorial Composition Contest.
Back in 2008-2009 I started writing my first symphony. After about a year’s worth of work the hard drive that the work was on died and I couldn’t recover it. This was the closest I’ve ever come to giving up on composing. I was absolutely devastated. Fast forward to early 2013, I’m wrapping up my last year in college and while digging through a box of stuff that my parents gave me for my apartment, I discovered some old scores. In those scores were printouts of the first 3 movements of my symphony! I was elated to find them. I decided that I could salvage some of my favorite material until a piece of music so I started writing Spark!.
I started writing it then didn’t touch it for almost a full year. During that time, I graduated, moved to Kansas City, and married my wife Arrianne. It wasn’t until later she asked me what happened to that piece. It had slipped my mind so I decided to work on it. I worked on it off-and-on again for a few more months polishing it.
In mid 2015 I decided to submit it to the Claude T. Smith Memorial Composition Contest. At that point I only had a MIDI render (a really bad one at that) but I still entered it in. Fast forward to September and I’m eating dinner Sunday night with my wife and I get a call from Warrensburg, MO. It was Dr. Russ Coleman telling me I had won the contest. I was ecstatic. The Clayton High School Symphonic Band was to give it’s premiere performance at the 2016 MMEA conference. Due to time restrictions on the performance I had to cut it down to 3 minutes. I completed that work in about a week. After the conference the St. Louis Wind Symphony gave the world premiere of the full piece and it was published later that year by Grand Mesa Music. The rest is history.
Tips from Dr. Jonathan Sweet
- Keep a steady tempo
- Always be thinking the eighth note pulse
- Let the French Horns Rip at the end (if they can)
- Pace the hell out of the piece…don’t let it get too loud too soon…save it for the end
Ensembles: Concert Band