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Donald WomackEmerald Sparksorchestra (3333 4331 timp 3 prc hp strings)6:002000
Commissioned by the Honolulu Symphony in honor of its 100th birthday, Emerald Sparks draws on the image of the green flash, that brief but beautiful instant in which a mysterious halo of oddly colored light trails the sun’s descent beneath the horizon. The cycle of sunset and sunrise serves as a metaphor for the end of one century of music making and the dawn of a new one.

The piece suggests the essence of the green flash, as if time is slowed down so that we can see all the subtle shifts of light and color that must combine almost instantaneously to create this phenomenon. Far from a laid back sunset though, the music itself is furiously driving, reflecting the power of the event. Colors constantly shift, both in stark contrast and subtle hues. Brilliant flashes shoot upward only to collapse into something darker. The opening gesture — a bright flash from which immense heat seems to build — recurs twice, releasing more energy each time. Just as a final climax is reached, the music evaporates, as if the final flecks of light dissipate into the atmosphere — reverberations of the flash.


"Emerald Sparks was no laid-back sunset; it concentrated on the energy and excitement of sunset. The music ebbed, flowed, shifted, ever building to its finest moment and climax, when the last flash of light evaporated into dusk."

—Honolulu Star-Bulletin