St. Louis Symphony Flutist Performing on Chamber Music Sundays at Three Program


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 5 , 2011 — Chamber Music Sundays at Three will host Mark Sparks, St. Louis Symphony principal flutist, in collaboration with Peter Henderson, pianist, and Valentina Takova, cellist, in a Jan. 23 recital at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus celebrating the release of Sparks’ most recent CD.

The concert is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Robert F. and Gertrude L. Shuck Music Recital Hall.


Sparks is recognized for his colorful tone, spirited phrasing and charismatic style. He is a dynamic orchestral artist, soloist, chamber musician and teacher, and has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues. He has made guest appearances with numerous top ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. He also was a member of the Baltimore Symphony under David Zinman.

He can be heard as solo recording artist on the Summit label, with various orchestras on Sony, Telarc, Nonesuch and Decca. He released his second solo album with AAM Records.

A dedicated teacher, he has presented master classes in South America, Japan and Norway, and for numerous U.S. institutions, including the Manhattan School of Music, Yale and the New World Symphony. Sparks is a former full-time faculty member of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute and presents an annual Flute Seminar at Innsbrook Institute in Missouri. Sparks is also an artist-faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he is co-principal flutist of the Aspen Festival Orchestra and Chamber Symphony.

Sparks appears with distinguished colleagues in the book “Flute Stories: 101 Stories of the World’s Best Flute Players.” Born in the United States in 1960, Sparks graduated with honors from the Oberlin Conservatory as a student of Robert Willoughby. He is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Society and the National Flute Association. As a student, he also trained at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Aspen and the National Repertory Orchestra.


A versatile pianist, Henderson is active as a performer in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. Since fall 2005, Henderson has served as assistant professor of music at Maryville University. He performs frequently as an ensemble keyboardist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) and made his first appearance as a subscription-concert soloist with the SLSO in January 2008. Over the past five seasons, he has often given pre-concert perspectives from the SLSO’s Powell Hall stage prior to subscription concerts. Henderson has coached chamber music at the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop each summer since 2001, and was an orchestral and chamber keyboardist with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony during its 2004 and 2006-2009 seasons. In 2003, he was a winner of the St. Louis-based Artist Presentation Society’s auditions. He holds a doctor of music degree from Indiana University-Bloomington. Before attending Indiana University, Henderson studied piano at the University of Idaho with Dr. Jay Mauchley.

Henderson’s ongoing musical partnerships include the St. Louis-based Ilex Piano Trio, featuring SLSO musicians Kristin Ahlstrom, violinist (his wife), and Anne Fagerburg, cellist. Henderson is also an advocate of new music, having given several premieres of solo piano works during the past several years. He and his wife live in St. Louis’s South City.


Takova was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria. She began cello studies there at age six. She has appeared as a soloist with orchestras in her native Bulgaria and in the United States. In addition, she has recorded extensively for National Bulgarian Radio and has appeared on this country’s National Public Radio. A member of Boston’s Kalistos Chamber Orchestra (which presented its debut performance in Merkin Hall, New York), she has also performed with the IRIS Chamber Orchestra. Takova has toured Canada as a chamber musician and, from 1999 to 2002, toured the United States with the V.A.V. Piano Trio. Her primary teachers include Dennis Parker, Rhonda Rider and Alan Harris, and she has performed in master classes for Aldo Parisot, Gary Hoffman and David Finkel. Takova is a recent graduate of the Yale graduate school of music where she studied with the renowned Aldo Parisot.


Tickets may be purchased at the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling (573) 651-2265. Tickets also may be purchased at any MetroTix outlet, online at, keyword “Sunday,” or by calling toll-free: (800) 293-5949.