HomeInterviewsComposersComposing with COVID in mind and celebrating an anniversary - Philip Sparke

Composing with COVID in mind and celebrating an anniversary – Philip Sparke

Like most composers, I work on my own for most of the time and have, in practice, been self-isolating ever since I started composing on a full-time basis 20 years ago! So I have not been unduly affected by the current pandemic apart from, along with all my fellow composers, I’m sure, the postponement of some performances, including premieres of new commissions – a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, of course.

But it has not been so easy for many amateur wind and brass bands. Unable even to meet for a large part of the last 18 months, they are thankfully starting to get back together again now that COVID restrictions have be relaxed in the UK and, to different degrees, around the world. Some bands will not be able to welcome all their players back immediately however, with youth bands perhaps being particularly affected. With this in mind I have already published some ‘sectional’ pieces, which are scored for ‘half’ a concert band, ie woodwind plus percussion or brass section plus percussion, to enable socially distanced rehearsals and concerts, if needed.

I am also about to launch a brand new Bandflex series pieces, my first foray into the world of flexibly scored band pieces, so that bands with incomplete or poorly balanced instrumentation can tailor a piece to suit their individual needs.

The first Bandflex titles will be 5-part and will suit concert bands, brass bands and fanfares, as well as mixed ensembles of any size, and will be aimed at grade levels 2.5 to 3.5. For those unfamiliar with the concept (unlikely, I know!) these pieces are written for quintet (plus percussion), with all five voices provided in multiple transpositions catering for all common band instruments. They will work with any size of band so long as all five parts are more-or-less equally distributed among available instruments. We aim to keep adding titles to the list in addition to launching a series of 10-part works for the fuller band next year.

The launch of this series forms part of a series of initiatives we have put together to mark (also delayed by the pandemic!) the 20th anniversary of the founding of my own publishing label, Anglo Music Press – originally a joint venture with De Haske and now with Hal Leonard Europe and Musicroom. To celebrate the occasion, we will also release a boxed set of 4 CDs, a selection of my favourite brass and concert band pieces from the Anglo Music catalogue plus a completely new CD of works for concert band recorded by the wonderful Royal Netherlands Army Band ‘Johan Willem Friso’ conducted by Major Tijmen Botma.

I have also published a new grade 3 opener, Fanfare for an Occasion for concert band, brass band or fanfare, to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Other new releases in this anniversary year include a new euphonium solo, Pulcinella, which belongs to the same family as Pantomime, Scaramouche and Harlequin. It is available with brass band, concert band and piano accompaniments.
I’d also like to invite you to explore other new publications which have been released in time for the anniversary:

BRASS BAND:

Sanctuary
A reflective piece to add contrast to your concert programmes
A Midwest Fanfare
Commissioned by the Brass Band of Battle Creek

CONCERT BAND

Sinfonietta No 5
A 3-movement work at grade 5
Mercury Rising
A spectacular opener for the advanced band
Pentangle
A concertino for brass quintet and concert band
A Little Klezmer Suite
A 4-movement suite based on klezmer melodies (grade 3.5)

SOLOS WITH PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT

Dreamsong
A slow solo for euphonium (also available with brass band accompaniment)
Wind in the Reeds
for bassoon and piano (also available with concert band accompaniment)
Please also visit my new website – www.philipsparke.com and subscribe to the Hal Leonard Europe YouTube channels to explore all my ScorePlays which you can listen and watch to and to stay tuned for my latest releases.
Concert Band
Brass Band
Ensemble

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