What do the symphony and baseball have to do with one another? Apparently, a lot. Glenn Donnellan is a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He is also the inventor of the “Electric Slugger,” which is kind of a violin made from a baseball bat. Last night he played the National Anthem on it at Nationals Park.
Here’s a clip of him performing the Anthem at Camden Yards in 2011:
Here he is at Nats Park a few years ago discussing his unique musical instrument:
This is so amazingly cool. Just another example of how baseball, music, and art influence one another…
Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will be treated to a talent show featuring students and mentors from the Turnaround Arts program. Among others, the program will feature recent music school graduate and former New York Yankees star, Bernie Williams.
Turnaround Arts is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The purpose of the program is to transform struggling schools “through the strategic use of the arts.” According to the program’s website, “Turnaround Arts brings arts education programs and supplies to a group of the lowest-performing elementary and middle schools in the country. These resources help schools improve attendance, parent engagement, student motivation, and academic achievement.”
Now that he’s a college graduate, Bernie will be serving as an ambassador for the Turnaround Arts program and will be working with Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport, CT. In conjunction with his visit to the White House, he will be visiting members of Congress to discuss the Turnabout Program.
This may not necessarily be a case of where baseball and politics work together, but it is definitely a case of a baseball player sharing his other passion – music – for the good of the community.
This week we’ve covered MVP Bryce Harper, Cuban Baseball, rap music, and the baseball sociology of music. What better a way to round it all out with a song from the Baseball Project? The song, Hola America, is about Cuban players who defected to the U.S. (a favorite topic of mine). According to the band’s website:
“The emotional documentary about Luis Tiant,’The Lost Son of Havana’, was the catalyst for writing this song. Luis had a great career and became one of the most recognizable and beloved players of his era, but he had to escape from Cuba to make it happen. He left his family and friends behind much like Orlando Hernandez (the story behind the first 2 verses) and others who braved the dangerous journey to the U.S. with no promise of returning. Fame and fortune to be sure, but at a heavy price.”
My last few posts about Bryce Harper and the songs about him got me thinking more about the sociology of music – or rather, the baseball sociology of music. Music is linked to both society and baseball. In the same way baseball functions in the society, music can reflect a society or a subgroup of people, or it can even be used to address a social issue. So what happens when baseball, music, and cultural values collide? Really great songs about baseball.
I recently stumbled across the Cuban pop group, Buena Fe. The duo’s members, Israel Rojas and Yoel Martinez, have covered a variety of social and political issues in their music. Even baseball.
Both music and baseball are integral to Cuban society, so a merger of the two is only natural. Both represent Cuban nationalism. In the early 2000’s, Buena Fe wrote a song for the documentary, Fuera De Liga, which is about the Cuban team, Industriales. The documentary, produced by Cuban documentarian Ian Padron, was banned by the government of Cuba. At least at first. Government censors objected to the documentary’s portrayal of the conditions faced by Cuban players as well as interviews with players who defected to the United States, include Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Eventually, however, they relented and the film was released in 2008.
The song title, Soñar en Azul, means “dreaming in blue” and refers to the Industriales’ team color. But the song is likely about more than just baseball. Translated, the lyrics include:
Rise up against the onslaught of a cruel offensive or stay trapped in a game of strikeouts. Could it be that baseball resembles life? Is it possible that without it, we could not dream?
You can judge for yourself with the music video, posted below.
Today our Bryce Harper trilogy ends with the last song that mentions Bryce Harper. This one really isn’t about him, but it in he does get a mention from his pal, Wale.
According to MLB’s Cut 4, Bryce started using Wale’s music as his walk-up songs and later asked Wale to mention him in his next project. The result was Wale’s 2012 song, “Change Up” (warning: explicit lyrics), which includes the line:
“Attire proper, Bryce Harper
though slightly darker”
The friendship continued, including an outing at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., and Wale throwing out the first pitch at a Nats game in 2013:
From MVP to Person of the Year, Bryce Harper got a lot of love last year. Especially in D.C. – we love our Bryce. So much so, rapper Wale penned a song about him. The song also mentions Gio Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, Dusty Baker, Jonathan Papelbon, and Yunel Escobar. The Washington Postprovides a little more insight, or check out the lyrics posted on Urban Islandz.