Letter from Home

Letter From Home was commissioned by the JMU Brass Band (Kevin Stees, director) for their tour of England and Wales in June and July 2008.

James Madison University is in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and its brass band is at the forefront of the ever-growing US brass band movement, enjoying significant success in the annual NABBA Championships.

Philip Sparke visited the band for their 2007 Festival of Brass and was asked to write a piece specially for their tour of England and Wales the following summer. The request was for something slow and intense and in Letter from Home, Sparke has aimed aim to capture the emotions that can be experienced when away from home; a letter or phone call can bring both happy and sad emotions and music is perhaps unique in being able to express these subtle and paradoxical feelings.

In this concert band version, made by the composer in 2008 for a CD recording in Japan, the calm opening leads to a reflective melody on clarinets and saxophones; but it is not long before the peaceful mood turns to turmoil, which eventually brings feelings of resignation in a calm chorale with a more positive mood.