is a work that reflects both the composer’s American roots and his eclectic approach to composition. Pastime
is a co-commission by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the African American Cultural Center of Greater Pittsburgh. The work is a collaboration by Danielpour with the celebrated American writer, Michael S. Harper.
The title of this work has several meanings for Danielpour. The most obvious is baseball’s longtime status as America’s “national pastime.” The title also refers to the fact that the individuals celebrated in the work “are part of history, part of our past.” But also, when Jackie Robinson finally broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, it was, according to the composer, “damn well past time!”Pastime
is scored for narrator (baritone) and orchestra. The music of Pastime
often evokes popular styles of the times in which Gibson, Robinson and Aaron played, jazz in particular. The use of jazz is both an evocation of the historical eras and a reflection of how Danielpour views Michael S. Harper’s poetry, with a style “not unlike how jazz composers riff.”Pastime
is set in five movements. The outer movements serve as Prologue and Epilogue, “mosaics about the game itself.” The middle three movements pay tribute to three African-American baseball legends.
The second movement, Josh Gibson, Master of the National Past,
is a portrait the great Negro Leagues star and home run king, who played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1930-1937_ and Homestead Grays (1937-1946). Josh Gibson died on 20 Jan. 1947, just a few months before the integration of Major League Baseball. He was 35 years old.
--Kenneth H. Meltzer