John Barnes Chance
John Barnes Chance (November 20, 1932 – August 16, 1972) was a composer, born in Beaumont, Texas. Chance studied composition with Clifton Williams at the University of Texas, Austin, and is best known for his concert band works, which include Variations on a Korean Folk Song, Incantation and Dance, and Blue Lake Overture.
Chance is believed to be a descendant of Robert Chance, a Mississippi gambler who settled in Southeast Texas in the late 1800s. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Floyd Chance, were natives of Southeast Texas. Chance's first musical experience started when he was 9 years old and began to take private piano lessons. In high school, Chance continued to perform in ensembles and met Arnold Whedbee, a band director, who would premiere the first movement of Chance's Symphony 1 at his graduation. At the University of Texas, from which he earned the degrees of bachelor of music and master of music, he studied composition with James Clifton Williams, Kent Kennan, and Paul Pick. In 1956–57 he was honored with the Carl Owens Award for student composition. After college he played timpani for the Austin Symphony Orchestra before becoming an arranger for the Eighth United States Army bands. 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" that served as the inspiration for his 1965 composition Variations on a Korean Folk Song, which became his best-known work. The Northwestern University Band premiered the work in March 1966 at the American Bandmasters Association convention, where the composition won the Ostwald Award. Some of Chance's other important works include Incantation and Dance, Elegy, Blue Lake Overture, and Symphony No. 2. After leaving the army Chance was the composer-in-residence at the Ford Foundation Young Composers Project in Greensboro, North Carolina, from 1960 to 1962. He joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky in 1966 and taught there until his death on August 16, 1972. He was accidentally electrocuted while working in the backyard of his home in Lexington, Kentucky.’’
Contributions to Music Education
John Barnes Chance is considered an extremely important figure in the wind ensemble world. After being selected as a winner of the Ford 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. 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. One of the reasons that Chance made such an impression on the students he mentored, conducted, and composed for, was his ability to take an interest in what the students wanted to learn. After his tenure at Greensboro, Chance found that his prior thoughts on only being a composer had changed and that he was interested in becoming a music educator.
- Symphony No. 1, orchestra (1956)
- Overture to a Fairy Tale, orchestra (1957)
- Credo, trumpet and piano (1959)
- Incantation and Dance, concert band (1960)
- Fiesta! orchestra (1960)
- Satiric Suite, string orchestra (1961)
- Blessed are They that Mourn, from Biblical text, chorus, horn, strings, and percussion (1961)
- The Noiseless, Patient Spider, text from Walt Whitman, female choir and flutes (1961)
- Alleluia, chorus and concert band (1962)
- 3 Songs, text e. e. cummings, soprano, flute, and piano (1962)
- Ballad and March, on American traditional text, chorus and concert band (1962)
- Introduction and Capriccio, wind ensemble with piano (1966)
- Variations on a Korean Folk Song, concert band (1967)
- Kyrie and Alleluia, chorus and orchestra (1967)
- Blue Lake Overture, concert band (1971)
- Elegy, concert band (1972)
- Symphony no. 2, wind ensemble (1972)
- Burletta, a chromatic piece
- Overture For A Musical Comedy, concert band (1997) (published after his death)
John Barnes Chance’s music has been featured on many CDs. Many wind ensembles have featured Incantation and Dance and Variations on a Korean Folk Song on their CD projects.
- The Legacy of John Barnes Chance by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony
- Chilling Winds by the Massachusetts Wind Orchestra
- Wind Band Masterworks by the Texas A&M University Symphonic Band
- Reflections by the Rutgers Wind Ensemble
- Carol Owens Awards in Composition (1957)
- American Band Masters Association’s Ostwalt Award (1966)
- Pugatch, William. "Chance, Barnes [Barney]". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- Kelly, Steven (November 1999). "John Barnes Chance and his Contributions to Music Education". Journal of Historical Research in Music Education 21 (1): 21–40. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Raoul F. Camus: "John Barnes Chance", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy. Accessed 27 Mar 05.
- Program Notes, Community Band of Brevard
- Composers of Great Band Works
- "Variations on a Korean Folk Song [mp3]". Archived from the original on 8 January 2007. Retrieved 5 September 2013.