Overture for a Great City

Overture for a Great City was commissioned by the Tamana Girls High School Wind Symphony from Tamana City, Kumamoto, Japan, by its director of bands, Shinichi Yoneda. The first performance was given at a concert which concluded their intensive winter course in January 2010, conducted by Tad Suzuki.

As a native Londoner, composer Philip Sparke has always been attracted to the great cities of the world, fascinated by their varied moods and human diversity. London, Chicago, Tokyo, Paris, Rome and New York all have their own characters but also share much in common.

This overture is a salute to the energy and grandeur of such cities. It aims to reflect their many contrasting characteristics by using frequent changes of atmosphere, starting with a bustling ‘urban’ landscape. The music soon becomes reflective, describing majestic architecture and cityscapes. This dissolves into a the main body of the work, a molto vivo of nervous energy, with many contrasting colours, moods and meters, describing the noble and not-so-noble aspects of life in any large city. This eventually leads back to a reprise of the busy opening which brings us full circle.