“The band is playing somewhere and somewhere hearts are light” wrote Ernest Lawrence Thayer in his legendary evocation of Casey at the Bat. And, as the College World Series wraps up its glories, a large ensemble of other kinds of players assembles to perform another kind of score, a musical version of the tale. Stepping up front is Omaha actor Scott Kurz to vivify the words, while the Nebraska Wind Symphony plays personifying melodies and rhythms from 2001 by America’s Randol Alan Bass. Whizzing by are snatches of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and a pungent slice of something by Richard Strauss. Bass said that his style here is inspired by the classic cartoons of yesteryear.
As home-grown as baseball are most parts of this concert. Songs from Grease, something by Sousa and John Williams, for example. Other names: Henry Fillmore, John Joseph Richards, James Barnes.
Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey and John Farrar created the songs for Grease. Michigan’s John Moss arranged them for wind groups. From famed John Williams comes “Hymn to the Fallen,” first heard in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Paul Lavender, long-time collaborator with Williams, created this version.
You may have heard of Fillmore before. He was well-known for the kind of circus marches, rapid-time, upbeat audience-stirrers called “screamers.” Fillmore also often showed influences of ragtime. His “Lightning Fingers” from 1930 apparently will call for virtuoso clarineting
Kansas-based, Welsh-born John Joseph Richards gained fame for his marches, and the best-known one, 1941’s “Emblem of Unity,” strides forth. There is something from 1983 by another composer with Kansas roots, James Barnes: Appalachian Overture wherein he wants to create a feeling for folk melodies of the American Southeast, the region of those glorious mountains.
Add to all this an Armed Services Medley, Sousa’s “Riders for the Flag” plus “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
But wait! There’s more. The 18-member jazz team, the “Swingtones,” first rolls out to play oldies but goodies from the Dorsey, Basie and Glenn Miller books.
Music Director Larry MacTaggart and Associate Conductor Keith Michael Davis leads the 75-member Symphony. This program is heard twice, June 26th and July 4th.
The home team reminds us, American music is cause for celebration.
This concert is June 26, Stinson Park, Aksarben Village, 2285 South 67th St, Sun. 6 p.m. And July 4, Chalco Hills Recreation Area, 154 St & Giles Road, 6 p.m. Mon. Free admission. www.nebraskawindsymphony.com