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Musical audiences might be surprised by what they find swimming in a sea of poised musicians, polished brass instruments and quivering strings in the Harvard Pops Orchestra (HPO). The 60-member classical orchestra meets all-American baseball and old-school poetry in a scintillating new and creative musical adaptation this weekend called “Casey at the Bay.”
HPO will present a musical version of the classic poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest L. Thayer, Class of 1885. Their imaginative rendition—which includes audience participation—may have audiences dreaming of baseball diamonds and cracker jacks.
“Casey at the Bat” was written by Thayer in January of 1888 for the San Francisco Examiner, a newspaper which was then headed by Thayer’s classmate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was an editor of the Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine.
The poem was Thayer’s last contribution to the publication, but lives on as an American favorite, after a comedian picked up the verse years later to perform it after a baseball game. To bring the poem back to life, Allen G. Feinstein ’86, who directs HPO, wrote and composed the adaptation of the poem that will be played this Saturday.
The orchestra promises a narration of the poem and performances by student musicians-actors. “It’s incredibly accurate in how it portrays the changing mood in the story,” HPO Co-president Mark E. Goldin ’05 says.
And the trumpet player says different baseball motifs and props will dramatize the performance.
Maybe after watching the trombones throw pitches and still others play shortstop, the observing audience might be tempted to jump in and do the wave.
—The Harvard Pops Orchestra will perform at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Sanders Theatre.
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