Baseball Game for Orchestra (2005)

Duration: eight minutes

Program Notes:

This piece, written as a variation on a theme by James Hartway, was conceived and inspired by the summer of 2005. Driven by a renewed interest in the sport during this particular summer, I decided to write a piece reflecting my overall experience of attending a professional baseball game. The overall character of the piece is one of serenity and timelessness, supported by the use of an unresolved suspension (1-4-5-8) throughout each movement. The primary elements of each movement are also derived from this chord.

The first movement, “Batting Practice,” is an introduction to the ball park, and to the teams on the field. Each team is represented by a differently tonality of the aforementioned suspension chord. The horn and oboe introduce the main theme of this piece, while the strings carry the suspension chord throughout, never allowing it to change. Different moving lines begin to stack on top of the strings, eventually ringing  in the start of the game, along with the replicated sound of a baseball bat.

The second movement, “Play Ball!” reflects the bulk of the game, including moments of slight intensity; perhaps a hitting streak or double play. It also represents more atmospheric parts of the game, later in the movement, with a short dialogue between woodwinds and brass.

The third movement, “Full Count,” was created as an homage to one of sport’s greatest cliches. It is the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases are loaded, the home team is down by three, and the batter has a full count. The early parts of this movement make use of the war like drum beats, signaling the approaching battle between the pitcher, and perhaps the evening’s last batter. As the ‘at bat’ progresses, the intensity of the orchestra builds to the final pitch. The orchestra is disrupted by the crack of the bat, sending the baseball sailing to the left field fence. Once the ball lands in the crowd, the percussion accents the heroic batter stepping onto each base, finally meeting his awaiting teammates at home plate.