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Sphere of Influence (2016)


SPHERE Performing Arts Group
Kim Pereira, music director of Sphere with choreography by Amy Piantaggini – Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance

Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra Barbara Yahr, conductor

The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and the League of American Orchestras for their generous support of this program.

Program Notes:

About a year ago I was approached by the Ridgefield Symphony to write a piece that would feature members of SPHERE performing with the orchestra.  It took me some time to envision how I would approach this. I wanted to write something that the professional musicians in the RSO would consider to be interesting and at the same time I had to be cognizant of how that music would work with the various talents of the Sphere members.  I’ve never written a piece with so many layers of information to consider and balance. My son, Ben, who spent lots of time in Ridgefield as a kid, reminded me that he helped coach a Challenger Little League Baseball team and that it was a unique and rewarding experience that was truly inspirational.  My wife, Tish, urged me to embrace the adventure of the RSO/Sphere project even though it was vastly different than other compositions I had written.  So with my family’s encouragement, and the impetus of the former Executive Director of the RSO, Larry Kopp, and the current Executive Director, Laurie Kenagy,  I was “all in” and  about to meet a new “family” of remarkable folks.

I went to my first Sphere rehearsal this past Winter to see what they were all about. On that first night I witnessed what unbridled joy music brought to the Sphere community. Their wonderful music director, Kim Pereira, led them in an exercise where individuals would share key words that expressed what they were feeling in their hearts and minds while they listened to some Classical  music she was playing. Their responses were direct and heartfelt, uncalculating and revealing. The words they chose touched me and immediately inspired me. My intuition told me this was an element that should be presented to the audience in this new piece I was going to conjure up. I saw how much Sphere performers reacted to strong rhythmic elements and knew that some sort of dancing should be part of this piece too. Later I discovered the group loved working with Amy Piantaggini of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance.  Not only is she an excellent choreographer but it warmed my heart to see her teenage students become fully immersed in dancing with and coaching the Sphere performers. I made a music demo which we listened to at rehearsal and Amy told me that she thought that the music I composed truly reflected the spirit of the Sphere performers. That comment was “music to my ears” since I was striving to portray their energy through the orchestra. With the main theme played by the strings, I was trying to evoke a feeling of wonderment and beauty. Another amazing thing about this premiere is that Barbara Yahr has an impressive career as a conductor and also is a Board Certified Music Therapist.  She has been involved in the evolution of this piece for many months now. Being around the Sphere performers and the exceptional and generous people who coach and work with the group, I realized that the glue that holds the entire endeavor together is love.  It has been rewarding to become a new friend and part of their community. I greatly admire the town of Ridgefield for its support of this group and the unique ideals of Sphere. The RSO is the only orchestra in America that has ever carried out the idea of building a bridge between the orchestra and a group like Sphere. I think the citizens of Ridgefield should be very proud of their orchestra and their community for supporting this unique collaboration.

-Chris Brubeck (September 2016)

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  • Flute 1, 2
  • Oboe 1, 2
  • Bb Clarinet 1, 2
  • Bassoon 1, 2
  • Horn 1, 2, 3, 4
  • C Trumpet 1, 2
  • Trombone 1, 2, 3
  • Tuba
  • Timpani/Percussion 3: Bongos, Shekere, Vibraslap, Tambourine
  • Percussion 1: Glockenspiel, Triangle, Marimba, Tubular Bells
  • Percussion 2: Susp. Cymbal, Bell Tree, Tambourine, Drum Set
  • Keyboard (& Celesta)
  • Sphere Guide
  • Violin I, II
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • Double Bass