Neapolitan Holiday

Neapolitan Holiday was commissioned by the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band of Green Hope High School, Cary, North Carolina - Brian Myers, Director of Bands. The premiere took place on 21st May 2009, a year in which the school celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of its new building.

The brief for the commission was fairly open but the piece needed to challenge the two talented groups which combined for the first performance. This gave composer Philip Sparke the chance to be adventurous in terms of orchestration and decided to follow the models of Mendelssohn (4th Symphony), Elgar (In the South: Alassio) and Respighi (Roman Trilogy) by using instrumental colour to produce a ‘sunny’ piece, following a holiday in southern Italy, and describing a festival day in Naples.

The work starts with brilliant woodwinds and percussion accompanying an opening celebratory theme in the brass. The mood subsides until a trumpet intones a new theme in the style of a Neapolitan serenade, taken up by the whole band. This is interrupted by a passing parade (the local band is not particularly accomplished!) but this disappears into the distance. A vivace follows in typical Neapolitan 6/8 meter, representing the festive dancing which characterises the local celebration. A change of mood is introduced by a horn ‘chorus’ but the dancing resumes and eventually joins with the horn theme to bring festivities to a close.