Celebrating Father’s Day, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra performed The Baseball Music Project, narrated by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Before the show began, members of the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball displayed their unique uniforms and equipment. Players from the Franklin Farriers and the Nashville Maroons were onhand to discuss their sport and rules (which don’t include using gloves, among other variations).
The program began with the smashing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, followed by the retired Major League Baseball player introducing himself to the audience. Some of the most intriguing aspects of the program was all the background information on the music, as well as the player, shared by Winfield.
Baseball Polka was one of the first songs performed. Written in 1858, it happens to be the oldest recorded music, relating to baseball. The National Game was another song, noteworthy because it was composed by John Philip Sousa and requested by the Major League Baseball Commissioner at the time.
As the narrator, Winfield shared his fondest baseball memories, which were not found in the spotlight, during his MLB days. They took place while playing catch with his older brother. He also professed his passion for the sport by stating, “Baseball keeps us young.”
Throughout the performance, hundreds of vintage photographs were displayed on the big screen highlighting springtime Americana, around the horn. Some photos included the original fields of Comiskey Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park. Other photos included candid, behind-the-scenes moments of former baseball players, as well as video of exhibition games played alongside female baseball players.
Other songs were dedicated to past players, including a jazz song for Jackie Robinson, a somber song for Lou Gehrig, a Latin number for Roberto Clemente and others devoted to Nolan Ryan and Satchel Paige. Probably the most amusing song of them all was “Let’s Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn,” which detailed the team’s departure from New York by a fan’s perspective.
A rousing rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was performed by The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, which included the original 1908 opening verse detailing a female fan wanting to see a baseball game. I enjoyed that one the most.
The show wrapped with a medley of music from The Natural and Field of Dreams, two truly great movies (and even better soundtracks).
The Baseball Music Project was an absolute hit. Conductor Robert Thompson, Soloist Misty Castleberry and Soloist Woody Mankowski kept the show lively and fun. I was surprised to discover this was their first performance of the year. Together, they formed a cohesive unit that felt like they’ve been performing as a group for many years.