This concert season, the Ridgewood Concert Band is featuring the music of John Barnes
Chance. An important and influential composer of wind band music, John Barnes Chance
died unexpectedly and early in his career. His music and legacy, however, live on.
This page is dedicated to the musical life and work of this composer.
The Ridgewood Concert Band will be performing the major wind band works of John
Barnes Chance during the 2012-2013 concert season.
John Barnes Chance was an American composer born November 20, 1932 in Beaumont,
Texas. His composition career actually had its start while the young Chance was
still in high school playing percussion for both his high school’s band and
orchestra. The young Chance went on to study at the University of Texas under
excellent teachers Kent Kennan, Paul Pisk and the renowned Clifton Williams.
After graduating with both Batchelor and Masters of Music degrees, Chance played
as timpanist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and then joined the U.S. Army. As
a bandsman he both played and arranged music for the Fourth U.S. Army Band in San
Antonio and the Eighth U.S. Army Band in Korea still honing his composition skills.
Upon leaving the army, Chance began to pursue composition as a more integral part
of his career. He was selected by the Ford Foundation to be a part of the Young
Composers Project. From 1960 through 1962 he was composer-in-residence while teaching
at the Greensboro, North Carolina, public schools. Here is where Chance’s accomplishments
came in a very short time.
From his first band piece Incantation and Dance, to his Ostwald Award winning composition
Variations on a Korean Folk Song, Chance wrote music that was challenging for young
students while arousing the interest and excitement of the most prolific composers
of his time. Throughout his short career, Chance composed for band, orchestra, chorus,
chamber groups and solo instruments. At the time of his death many believed that
his musical contributions were only beginning. In August 1972, while at the height
of his composition career and on the faculty of the University of Kentucky, Chance
was airing a tent in his garden when a metal pole contacted an electrified fence
used to confine his dogs. Chance was accidentally electrocuted and died leaving
the music world stunned and void of a brilliant composer.
Frank L. Battisti
New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble
Mr. Battisti comments on the importance of John Barnes Chance to music education.
Director of Bands
Illinois State University
The Illinois State University Wind Symphony under the direction of Stephen Steele has recorded an entire
CD devoted to the work of John Barnes Chance. Mr. Steele shares his personal thoughts on the music of the
Comments by Frank L. Battisti.
John Barnes Chance was a composer who made a great contribution to Music Education
through his music. From 1960 – 62 he was a Ford Foundation Young Composers Project
composer-in-residence in the Greensboro , North Carolina Public School System. It
was during this time that he composed many of his pieces for high school band. All
were important contributions to the very limited repertoire of quality music available
for performance by school bands.
Incantation and Dance and
Variations on a Korean Folk Song are his most performed pieces. They
are now included in the standard repertoire for wind bands. Band directors and players
continue to embrace his works because they are energetic, interesting and stimulating.
Comments by Stephen Steele
I have had the distinct pleasure to conduct the music of John Barnes Chance since
the middle 1970s. As a young high school band director in Oregon, I found his music
to be accelerating and challenging for both me and me students. Throughout my public
school teaching days, the music of Chance was always a first thought when selecting
repertoire. His music provides an appealing clearness of voice, with a spectacularly
specific score, embodying an economy of sounds, that achieving clarity was and remains
a constant pleasure in rehearsals and performance.
As we built our recording plans with Albany Records, the notion of providing an
all John Barnes Chance recording was presented by Albany Records. We happily included
the performance and recording project with the production assistance of composer