Spark for winds and percussion (2011) - 3.5'

Commissioned by the Duncanville Independent School District
Grade Level: Medium Advanced

Premiere: February 27, 2011
Dedication Ceremony for the
Tom and Verda Shine Performance Hall
Duncanville High School
Duncanville, Texas

Reference Recording:
University of North Texas Concert Band
Kristopher Quaale, Conductor

Program Notes:

The name "Tom Shine" and "Duncanville High School" were familiar to me long before I began working in Duncanville. Tom and his wife, Verda, began teaching in Duncanville in 1980, and both remained there through the 2009-2010 school year. Their thirty years of dedication produced one of the most successful band programs in the country.

In describing the work of Tom and Verda, Jeffrey King (Director of Bands and long-time Duncanville ISD employee) writes:

"When I first met Tom and Verda Shine in the spring of 1988, I was already familiar with their names and Duncanville. Twenty-two years later, I had no idea the effect that the Shines and Duncanville would have on me.

"Working with Tom Shine for over 21 years, I have developed a tremendous respect for his unselfishness and total commitment to the Duncanville Instrumental Program and the entire Duncanville community. His musical accomplishments are too numerous to mention in this passage, however, Tom would be the first to say, it is not about the trophies or the final placement, but it is more about the journey and the process of getting there. It was always more important for each member in the band to realize their commitment to themselves and the entire group than to receive a certain trophy. Tom had a gift of inspiring and motivating students throughout his forty-year teaching career. There are countless number of students and now adults that have had their lives changed in so many ways. They can still hear Dr. Shine saying, 'one more time!'

"It was during my first teaching position in Duncanville that I realized what a master teacher Verda Shine was. She expected the best from her students and herself. Because of these high expectations, Verda was a lifetime learner, attending clinics, master classes and concerts through her last year of teaching. She was always trying to find a better way to teach our kids. If you ever stepped into a class that Verda was teaching, you would see a well-disciplined classroom; kids were having fun and learning how to better play their instruments. You would also find a genuine, caring and loving teacher. In fact, in her last years to teach, she was affectionately named by the other staff members as 'Mama Kitty' because of her nurturing and caring attitude.

"When I asked William Pitts, our newest band staff member and a very talented young composer to write a piece for Tom and Verda, I was thrilled that he agreed. Commissioning this composition and naming our new performance hall after Tom and Verda is so logical and fitting because these two people have given so much of themselves and their lives to the students, parents, faculty and community of Duncanville."

The name Spark is intended to reference both the visual imagery of fire and light, while also referencing the idea of "sparking" a desire and passion for music, just as Tom and Verda Shine did for so many students throughout their careers. Though I was never able to work directly with Tom and Verda, I am honored to be able to celebrate their legacy.

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