Timothy Johnson, Professor of Music Theory, will give a presentation at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, held May 29-31 at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
In his presentation, titled “The Band is Playing Somewhere": Unpacking the Music of “Casey at the Bat,” Johnson will discuss a music composition for band by Randol Alan Bass that features the famous baseball poem. The occasion will mark Johnson's fifth time presenting at the Hall of Fame.
Johnson will discuss how this version illuminates the poem by musically illustrating many of the actions described within the verses, by punctuating certain lines, by providing a late nineteenth-century context through its evocation of band music (common in that era), and by incorporating baseball’s most famous tune, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
In addition, one of the most impressive aspects of this piece is its evocation of a musical setting consistent with the time period of the poem—1888.
“The presentation will discuss the importance of band music in small-town America,” Johnson said, “in which most towns supported a local band to give concerts and participate in parades. The importance of band music during this time helps situate the poem in its era and also ties it directly, through its cultural association, with the American Pastime.”
“The Band is Playing Somewhere”: Unpacking the Music of “Casey at the Bat,” will be illustrated with clips from an on-campus video recording of Johnson performing the piece as narrator with the Ithaca College Symphonic Band, under the direction of School of Music Professor Elizabeth B. Peterson, in April 2012.
The Symposium will feature more than 50 presentations selected from academic paper submissions across the country, with a wide variety of topics exploring the unique relationship between the National Pastime and American culture. Johnson’s presentation will be one of 20 breakout sessions on topics ranging from baseball and the law to baseball in Civil Rights, as well as a featured panel discussion on the business and promotion of baseball.
For more details on Johnson’s professional accomplishments, visit his faculty profile.