Pastime: a tribute to baseball for concert band

Baseball. America’s pastime. Anyone who knows me knows my love for the Chicago Cubs. Since elementary school, I have watched the boys in blue play in the Friendly Confines. The play of Ryne Sandberg first drew me in. His ability to run down any ball hit his way and throw out a runner was amazing. He would range to his right, reach across his body, spin and throw a bullet to first.

Then, of course, there was Harry Caray. How could you not love listening to him call the play-by-play of the game? Or, comment on the guy wearing a sombrero in the stands.

Anytime I wear my Cubs attire someone will ask “are you from Chicago?” Of course, the answer is no. I can never tell if they are disappointed in my response. While growing up, there were not 250 channels on cable plus subscriptions services. We had about 30 channels in the mid-1980’s when I started watching baseball. There were two options for baseball at the time: WGN or TBS. Cubs or Braves. I think I choose wisely.

This brings me to my piece for this week’s Monday Morning Music. It is Pastime by Jack Stamp, a salute to the game of baseball. In the piece, Stamp borrows ideas from Take Me Out to the Ballgame and sweeps them through polytonal moments and a fugue.

The fun of Pastime lays in the way it tributes the game itself. There is a moment when the flutes and glockenspeil play the notes “B-A-B-E” to salute Babe Ruth (You know, the Great Bambino….using my best Ham Porter voice). Stamp quotes part of Meet Me in St. Louis as tribute to Mark McGwire. Rehearsal number match player numbers or milestones, like the 61 home runs hit by Roger Maris.

I always listen to this piece on baseball’s opening day. While this episode is a couple weeks late, it is still worth the time to listen. Or, you can check out Fanfare to the Hammer by Anthony O’Toole. And, Joel Puckett premiered his opera The Fix depicting the great Black Sox scandal of 1919.

So, sit back and enjoy some music celebrating our National Pastime.

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