Of Skies, Rivers, Lakes and Mountains

Of Skies, Rivers, Lakes and Mountains was commissioned by the Northern California Band Directors' Association to honour their 50th Anniversary in 2012. The first performance was given by the Associationís 2012 Honor Band, conducted by Dr Royce Trevis, in the Harlen Adams Theater, California State University, Chico, California, on 4th February that year.

The brief for the commission asked for a piece that celebrated the United Statesí natural resources and composer Philip Sparke turned to Katharine Lee Batesís lyrics for the song America the Beautiful, of which the first and last verses are:-

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!


America! America!

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea

 The three movements each take their title from these verses:-

1. O Beautiful for Spacious Skies

Opening with filigree woodwind figuring, this movement aims to recreate the light and lightness of a spring sky, birds and blossoms floating on gentle breezes.

2. From Sea the Shining Sea

A vivacious celebration of water bubbling in streams, rivers and lakes.

3. For Purple Mountain Majesties

A slow final movement representing an awe-inspiring range of mountains