Symphony No. 2 “Chromosphere” for Winds and Percussion

Programmatic symphony with the theme of finding peace within the chaos of our times. The piece has four movements, including a mysterious Prologue, a blazing Scherzo, a calming Meditation, and a dramatic Finale.

Concert Band | Grade 5 | 35:00

    I. Prologue – Uncertainty
    II. Scherzo – Chaos
    III. Meditation – A prayer for deliverance; finding peace within chaos
    IV. Finale – Light at the end of the tunnel

Performance materials for the full symphony are available on J.W. Pepper:

The finale (9:30) is also available as a stand alone performance piece:

World premiere performance by the Concordia College Band, Peter Haberman conducting. April 25th, 2021.

Commissioned by:
Timothy Mahr, St. Olaf College
Peter Haberman, Concordia College
Joel M. Graham, The College of Wooster
Brandon Duras, Brunswick High School Concert Band​
Daniel Cook, University of North Texas Wind Ensemble
Scott A. Jones, The Ohio State University Symphonic Band
Richard Cook, Southern New Hampshire University Wind Symphony
Andrew Boysen and Casey Goodwin, University of New Hampshire Bands

About the piece

The chromosphere is the second of three layers that comprise the atmosphere of the sun, situated between the inner photosphere and the outer corona. It’s a fitting epithet for a symphony that will have been composed, orchestrated, rehearsed, and premiered almost entirely within the global coronavirus pandemic that is still ongoing at the time of this writing. But there’s another aspect of the chromosphere that deserves mention. On a more abstract, etymological level, the word simply means “sphere of color”, taken from the red light it emits in contrast to the white of the photosphere beneath. Like the corona, however, the chromosphere is elusive: it can only be seen by the naked eye during a total solar eclipse, when the overwhelming radiance of the photosphere is obscured in darkness.

The resulting analogy is far from perfect, but I find it fascinating. The darkness of the eclipse comes, and with it, the corona. The light of the sun no longer brightens our day. But within the corona, amid the darkness, we can find our own “sphere of color,” an inner vibrancy and calm, a peace that surpasses understanding. This peace does not come from within, but can manifest within us when there is none to be found elsewhere. It is a curious kind of peace in that it seems to show up and grow only in adverse conditions, in which we discover whether we have put our trust in favorable circumstance or in something more unchangeable. I find it at work when I am closest to God and most closely aligned with His purpose for my life. The pandemic has taken something from all of us—work, health, social connection, progress in education, even loved ones—but it need not take our peace. Whether we incline our heart toward the chaotic or the permanent, we will find what we’re looking for—so let’s look into the unchangeable together.

Additional notes

When I write, the music itself usually comes first, unadorned with any program. Later, it accumulates additional meaning, often in many layers; so it was with this piece. Its musical path is the metamorphosis of themes springing from two intervals: a falling fifth, and a rising third. These seeds had lain dormant for years in my mind, waiting for the right opportunity to grow. Even when such an opportunity came in the form of this consortium commission, I had no concept of what the resulting music would come to symbolize. By the time I commenced writing in earnest, however, we were in the thick of the first surge and quarantine, and it became clear to me that to write about anything else would be disingenuous. For better or worse, this symphony is tied to the pandemic now. That said, I hope you can enjoy it with or without its rather philosophical program, as the music itself meant a lot to me before it gained these other associations. I hope you find the sounds themselves to be thrilling, moving, enchanting, and captivating. One thing only will I insist: my music is inherently optimistic, because I have joy in the One who gave it to me.


I’m incredibly grateful to all of the commissioning directors—dear friends and mentors who stood by commitments made before the pandemic to facilitate the creation of this piece. To Andy Boysen, who guided me through the process of writing my first symphony and who gathered this consortium for my second. To Meg, for insisting that I take time to pursue composing vocationally. It was a wonderful experience to share my creative process with her while we were both working from home. Finally, for the inspiration for this music, and for any joy that it may bring to its performers and audiences, I give all glory to God.

Chromosphere was first premiered on April 25th, 2021 by by the Concordia College Band, Peter Haberman conducting.

Request a free score for perusal.

UNH premiere by the Wind Symphony, Andrew Boysen, Jr. conducting. April 28th, 2021.