Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes from Saint-SaŽns' 3rd Symphony

Symphonic Metamorphosis was commissioned by the Sierra Vista High School Symphonic Band, Las Vegas, Nevada - Phil Haines, Director of Bands. They gave the first performance on 13th March 2007, during a visit to Las Vegas by the composer.

Philip Sparke was given free hand to choose the style of the new commission and took the opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition to write a set of variations on the famous chorale from Saint-SaŽnsí ĎOrganí Symphony. However, things changed during the composition process; the composer writes:

ĎI had long wanted to write a set of variations on the famous chorale from the Organ Symphony, but revisiting the work reminded me what a remarkable piece this is. Saint-SaŽns was criticised by his peers for being too reactionary, and while it is true that much of the symphony looks back to baroque and classical techniques, there are startling moments of power and originality in the work, especially in terms of harmony and orchestration. Even the workís greatest fan would find it hard to concede that the work, though extremely tightly constructed, has some less-inspired passages, however, I was so moved by the workís highlights that I decided to include more than just the chorale melody in the new work.

So Symphonic Metamorphosis starts out as an original set of variations for concert band but is gradually subsumed by the power of Saint-SaŽnsí music, particularly the slow movement, and the piece closes with a finale which has been reorganised and rescored from the majestic closing pages of the symphony. The metamorphosis is completeí.