Commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Co-commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony and Orquesta de Extremadura.
Premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD, April 29-30, 2010.
Other performances: Kansas City Symphony conducted by Michael Stern, October 8-10, 2010; Orquesta de Extremadura conducted by Jesus Amigo, Badajoz, Spain June 16, 2011 & Caceres, Spain June 17, 2011; Tucson Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lior Shambadal, April 13-15, 2011; Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stuart Malina, May 19-20, 2012; Fort Wayne Philharmonic conducted by Andrew Constantine, September 22, 2012; Memphis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, February 22-23, 2013; Fargo- Moorhead Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christopher Zimmerman, January 11-12, 2014; American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christopher Zimmerman, January 26, 2014; Whatcom Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yaniv Attar, October 12, 2014; New Jersey Capital Philharmonic conducted by Daniel Spalding, December 31, 2014; Reading Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Constantine, April 25, 2015; Nashville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, November 17-19, 2016; Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nir Kabaretti, April 1, 2017; Southwest Florida Symphony conducted by Nir Kabaretti, April 22, 2017; Kansas City Symphony conducted by Jason Seber, September 26, 2017. Knoxville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aram Demirjian, September 20-21, 2017; Colorado Springs Philharmonic conducted by Josep Caballé-Domenech, March 2-3, 2019; Fairfax Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christopher Zimmerman, April 27, 2019.
Demirjian opened the evening with a work dripping with drive, momentum, and energy, Jonathan Leshnoff’s 2008 work, Starburst. Thanks to a remarkable orchestration that pulses with life, the work has moments of punctuation, moments of flowing rhythm, and moments of sonic surprise that inevitably force the listener into a state of optimistic elation.
—Alan Sherrod, Arts Knoxville, September 22, 2018
Vibrant orchestral colors and shimmering textures characterized the music. Conductor Michael Stern achieved a marvelous orchestral balance with melodic fragments moving among the strings, winds, brass and percussion. A restrained central section preceded an explosive ending. ‘Starburst’ proved to be a perfect work to open the season.
—Timothy McDonald, Kansas City Star, October 9, 2010
It’s [Starburst] a curtain-raiser in the best sense of the word, full of energy and anticipation. The composer’s most distinctive talent may be for creating deeply lyrical themes, but here, his focus is on propulsion and creating a sense of almost frantic searching... Even a momentary repose partway through can’t stop the sense of urgency... It’s a colorfully orchestrated work, and Alsop had the ensemble articulating deftly.
—Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun, April 30, 2010