Mark Sparks is the principal Flutist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, appointed by the late Hans Vonk after an extensive international search. Recognized for his colorful tone, spirited phrasing, and charismatic style (described by the Denver Post as "mesmerizing"), 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, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Bergen (Norway) Symphony Orchestras, and was a member of the Baltimore Symphony under David Zinman. Mr. Sparks is 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. He can be heard with various orchestras on the Sony, Telarc, Nonesuch, and Decca labels, and has recorded a solo album for Summit Records. Mr. Sparks appears with distinguished colleagues in the book "Flute Stories: 101 Stories of the World's Best Flute Players", has been featured in articles and interviews for numerous publications, including TIme Magazine and the Flutist's Quarterly and has written performance guides for Flute Talk Magazine.
Mr. Sparks has presented master classes in South America, Japan, and Norway, and numerous U.S. Institutions, including the Manhattan School of Music, Yale, the New World Symphony, the Sarasota Music Festival, NRO, Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, to name a few. He received an award from the Baltimore Public Schools for helping to initiate the Baltimore Symphony's Musicians-in-the-Schools program. Mr. Sparks is a former full-time faculty member of Baltimore's Peabody Institute, where he pioneered an orchestral audition training course for his students, many of whom have successful performing careers. Mr. Sparks presents an annual Professional Flute Seminar for advance flute students at Innsbrook Institute in Missouri.
Born in Baltimore, MD in 1960 and raised in Cleveland and St. Louis, Mr. 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.