Flights of Fancy
Overture for Orchestra

Instrumentation: 3 3 3 3/ 4 3 3 1/ timp + 2 perc/ pno/ hp/ strings
Duration: ca. 8’

Programme Notes

Unlike most pieces whose title comes to me while composing, the title for this piece was established before I started working on it. The literal meaning of the individual words in the title convey the exact intent of the kind of piece I wanted to write — something that was dreamy, buoyant and energetic. While conceptualizing the piece, quick and undulating arpeggios were a mainstay of my sketches. The character of the piece favoured the nimble and gossamer qualities of the woodwinds and strings. However, the piece needed to also have a resounding flare that could serve as an appropriate curtain-riser. 

The composition follows two melodies from their capricious and tentative introductions, to their development as mature and noble musical statements. The first theme, based on ascending intervals of thirds, is buried within the mercurial cascades of wind and string arpeggios that start the work. The second theme, introduced by the French horn and then later by a solo trumpet, is more gallant than fanciful. These themes undergo development throughout the middle part of the composition. Eventually a string chorale presents the first theme amidst a wash of buoyant clarinets, oboes, and flutes. This introspective moment lays the groundwork for the triumphant statement of the second theme which has matured into a resplendent fanfare, performed by the full brass. The high energy from the preceding fanfare abates, and the piece concludes with the hushed, nimble arpeggios from the opening. 

Flights of Fancy was commissioned for the Vancouver Symphony by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Audio Samples

For further information, please contact John Estacio.


October 2, 1999

Conductor: Sergiu Commissiona
Orpheum Theatre
Vancouver, British Columbia

Subsequent Performances

April 20, 21, 2001
Conductor: Vladimir Valek
Winspear Centre
Edmonton, Alberta



Score/Parts Rental

For more information on score and parts rental for Flights of Fancy, contact John Estacio.