Perpetual Spark

(Flute/piccolo, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano).
Total duration ca. 7 minutes (2011)
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).

Commissioned in 2011.
One movement work. 26 pages, 8.5" x 11".


Premiered February 21, 2012 in Chicago, IL by Fifth House Ensemble.

Audio excerpts from the live concert premiere at the Chicago Cultural Center, February 2012, performed by Fifth House Ensemble.


Also related:


(Solo piano).
Total duration ca. 7 minutes (2011)
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).
Commissioned in 2011.
One movement work. 9 pages, 8.5" x 11".

View pages of the score
view score

Listen to audio clips of Perpetual Spark

1. hear
2. hear

Purchase this score

Score and parts available from Activist Music:
$50.00 print; $35.00 digital.


The music of the sextet, Perpetual Spark, was first composed for solo piano in a piece simply titled, Spark, which was the most challenging commission I've ever had, not because of the musical material, but because of its deeply emotional meaning. The piece is inspired by the life, love, energy and heart of Dale Mara Bershad, a gifted musician who often used her talents to share the joy of musical expression and wonder with young children. Mara was deeply adored by a Chicago attorney and arts patron named Sherwin Abrams, who contacted me out of the blue to compose a piece in her honor. What I learned of Mara's radiant nature led me to create not a slow elegiac piece, but one which reflects her spark of a life filled with passion and delight, burning brightly, intensely, and without end.

Perpetual Spark was recorded in September 2013 by Fifth House Ensemble, for their Cedille Records 2014 CD, Excelsior, produced by Judith Sherman.  
Arcana Album Alex Shapiro has produced a significant album of her solo piano works, including the solo version of this piece, SPARK, beautifully performed by New York pianist Adam Marks. The 2020 disc, ARCANA, has been released on Innova Recordings 041.  


"brisk and lovely..."

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle


"luminous energy..."

Daniel Stephen Johnson, WQXR New York


"flickers of sound amidst lyricism… a concise dazzler for sextet."

Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone


"dynamic and elusive..."

Maria Nockin, Fanfare Magazine


"Shapiro alternates energetic sections of rhythmic vitality (your feet will be tapping from measure one) with slower, lyrical touches of French neo-classicism that recall the harmonic elegance of Poulenc. "

David Abrams, Fanfare Magazine





Perpetual Spark, underscoring dusk over the San Juan Islands.

The middle of Perpetual Spark is the perfect underscore for dusk falling over Alex's home.

Click the image to play the brief video.


Fifth House ensemble recording session of Perpetual Spark
Fifth House Ensemble recording PERPETUAL SPARK at CRC in Chicago,
with Judith Sherman producing.

Perpetual Spark, page 7  
Perpetual Spark, page 7
Perpetual Spark, page 17  
Perpetual Spark, page 17
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