Update: In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park today, Friday, April 20, legendary composer and conductor John Williams led musicians from the Boston Pops Orchestra in the world premiere of “Fanfare for Fenway,” the maestro’s special tribute to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, commissioned by the Boston Red Sox for the occasion. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart was also present at the pre-game celebrations to lead the orchestra in a John Williams arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Hymn to New England,” also composed by the legendary maestro.
“Fanfare for Fenway,” just over three minutes long, was recorded Saturday, March 24, at Boston’s Symphony Hall, by musicians from the Boston Pops Orchestra with Williams conducting.
Earlier, the stirring sounds of the massed brasses from the Boston Pops Orchestra rang out in Symphony Hall, only a short walk away from Boston’s legendary Fenway Parks where miracles do happen, at least once in a while.
The reason for the recording session was a new Fanfare for Fenway, composed by John Williams, being readied for the opening of the new baseball season on April 13, 2012 and its 100th Anniversary on April 20.
Only a few minutes from Symphony Hall to Fenway Park
For many years I lived smack dab in between Fenway Park and Symphony Hall and would arrive home from my office in Symphony Hall to hear the sounds of fans cheering a home run through the windows of my apartment. Having one foot in culture and another in Fenway Park always gave me a thrill. The excitement of a thousand people applauding a concert is gratifying, yet the sound ten thousand fans make as they pour out their hearts sends a chill down my spine every time.
The Boston Marathon Connection
Each year, just before baseball season begins, there is the Boston Marathon, an event that was so close to my digs that I was able to walk a few blocks to the finish line. To see the runners make the final effort to cross the line and then collapse in exhaustion can never be adequately conveyed by television. The Marathon is a huge populist undertaking. My last year in Boston was 1996 when the race had 35,000 runners. To me, the story is in all the people who push themselves to finish the race. In 1897, the first Boston Marathon only had 18 runners.
Sports and the Arts
I liken sports to theatre, or perhaps the other way around. My favorite thing to tell newcomers to the arts is that they are like sports, not every game is exciting, and the home team doesn’t always win, but get into the habit of going and you are going to witness great moments. Historic events. The stuff real memories are made of.
Like the Berkshires, Boston is indeed an amazing place to live. While sports were peripheral to my work, one day I found myself talking with Tony Conigliaro about that famous black eye (During the Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season of 1967, he was hit in the face by a pitch, causing a severe eye injury and derailing his career. Though he would make a dramatic comeback from the injury, his career was not the same afterwards.) Serendipity also had me meeting several times with Dave Cowens on how to fund and locate a permanent sports museum (Link), a task he took on after retiring from the Celtics. At 6’9″ some thought him too short to play the center position. We had a good laugh over that one.
Anyway, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park, legendary composer and conductor John Williams has composed “Fanfare for Fenway,” the maestro’s special tribute to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark during its centennial.
The piece, just over three minutes long, was recorded Saturday, March 24, at Boston’s Symphony Hall, and performed by musicians from the Boston Pops Orchestra with Williams conducting.
Maestro Williams is also a loyal and passionate fan of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, and his music has had a long-time connection to the team and ballpark. A portion of the 2005 Opening Day Ring Ceremony, celebrating the first Red Sox Championship in 86 years, was set to a John Williams medley that featured the “Main Theme” from Star Wars, “Raiders March” from Indiana Jones, and the “Theme” from Jurassic Park, performed by musicians from the Boston Pops. Williams’ music was also featured prominently during the 2008 Opening Day Ceremony as players received their World Series Rings and the second World Championship banner in four years was hoisted to the composers “A Hymn To New England,” performed by the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble. That opening ceremony also featured the “Main Theme” to Superman, “Throne and End Title” from Star Wars: Episode IV, and “Raiders March” from Indiana Jones.
The Boston Pops and the Boston Red Sox have had a storied history of working together in recent years. In 2009, the Boston Pops Orchestra released The Red Sox Album, produced in conjunction with the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball, on opening day of the Red Sox 2009 season. In celebration of the release, Keith Lockhart and members of the Boston Pops were featured in a performance during the Red Sox opening day festivities. Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, and Boston Symphony Music Director Laureate Seiji Ozawa have also had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Red Sox game.
Additionally, various members of the Red Sox, both past and present, have appeared in performances at Symphony Hall including Manager Terry Francona and 1967 Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg. Various Pops ensembles have also performed at Fenway Park during some of the Red Sox’ most memorable moments.
Off-key National Anthem
On July 4, 2007, right in the middle of what would become a World Series-winning season for the Red Sox, Keith Lockhart led members of the Boston Pops in a controversial “Star-Spangled Banner.” Rearranged by Williams with some changes in pitch (into a minor key) fans were surprised at the innovations, yet gave it a rousing welcome.
Later that fall, for Game One of the 2007 World Series, the ensemble returned to Fenway Park for another performance of the National Anthem, this time under the direction of John Williams. While the arrangement is not that radical, it is worth a listen. There are other recordings on You Tube, but this one, from MLB.com is the best: (link)
|April 13, 2012||Home Opening Day
2012 Red Sox home opener
|April 19, 2012||Fenway Park Open House (Free)
A free event for fans to come into Fenway Park and enjoy every part of the 100-year-old ballpark. There will be historical artifacts, photographs and banners on display along with a chance to meet Red Sox legends and visit parts of the ballpark generally inaccessible to fans
|April 20, 2012||100th Birthday of Fenway Park
Will commemorate 100 years of history at Fenway Park with a large-scale pre-game ceremony. The Red Sox will play the New York Yankees, same team (then the New York Highlanders) they played on April 20, 1912. Both teams will wear 1912 throwback uniforms
|May 2, 2012||Throwback Day
Against the Oakland Athletics