Saturday 20 February 2016

Now Playing - John Barnes Chance

Northampton Concert Band have been rehearsing two well know concert band pieces by the American composer John Barnes Chance: Incantation and Dance and Variations on a Korean Folk Song.

John Barnes Chance was born in 1932 in Beaumont, Texas. His first musical experience was at the age of 9 when he started taking piano lessons and later he played percussion in high school. At university he received his bachelor's and master's degrees studying composition with Clifton Williams.

In his early career he played timpani with the Austin Symphony and later with the Fourth and Eighth U.S.Army Bands during the Korean War. While serving in Seoul, South Korea, as a member of the Eighth U.S. Army Band, Chance came across a pentatonic Korean folk song named "Arirang". The theme would later serve as the inspiration for his 1965 composition Variations on a Korean Folk Song.

On leaving the Army he received a grant from the Ford Foundation's Young Composers Project in 1960, Chance was able to work with the Greensboro School District. At Greensboro, Chance was able to understand the limitations of high school students and was then able to compose for them. One of his first major wind ensemble compositions, Incantations and Dance, was composed and performed during his residency with Greensboro High School. Originally the piece was called Nocturne and Dance and it went on to become his first published piece for concert band.

Due to Chance's obligations of working with the entire district, he had to write music for many different grade levels. Chance composed thoughtful and involved music for percussion sections, which is something that most composers would not do at that time. Due to his contributions to writing more involved percussion music, more composers began to follow in his footsteps.

John was accidentally electrocuted in his backyard in Lexington, Kentucky aged 39, bringing his promising career to an early, tragic end.

The Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra plays Incantation and Dance

Variations on a Korean Folk Song