Mark Sparks was appointed Principal flute of the St. Louis Symphony by Hans Vonk in 2000. Recognized for his colorful tone and charismatic style (described by the Denver Post as "Mesmerizing"), Mr. Sparks has performed as soloist, orchestral artist, and recitalist in most of the world's major venues, including numerous solo appearances with the St. Louis Symphony. He has performed with some of the world's best orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony, among others. Previously he was Associate Principal flute with the Baltimore Symphony and Principal flute in the San Antonio Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, and Canton Symphony.
Mr. Sparks is a faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he is Principal flutist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony. A frequent guest at schools and festivals internationally, he has been on the coaching faculty of numerous top programs, including the New World Symphony, the Pacific Music Festival, and the National Orchestral Institute. Mr. Sparks is noted for his enthusiastic teaching, and regularly presents master classes in the U.S. He also presents a yearly master class in St. Louis and maintains an active private teaching studio in his home. Mr. Sparks is a former full-time faculty member of the Peabody Institute.
Sparks is an avid writer about the flute, and is a regular contributor to Flute Talk Magazine. He has recorded 2 solo albums for the Summit and AAM labels, Mark Sparks, flute, and Fantasie. Mr. Sparks graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as a student of Robert Willoughby. He lives in the historic Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis with his wife, cellist Valentina Takova.