Gwyneth Walker


for Narrator and Piano (2011)

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Download a PDF file of the piano score of this composition.

Sportsongs are dramatizations (narratives with music) on the topic of athletics. The poems, by May Swenson and Virginia Hamilton Adair, explore the intricacies of sport in a knowledgeable, quizzical and sometimes confused (!) manner. This poetic approach to sports is infused with fanciful imagination!

In the opening scene, "Analysis of Baseball" (poem by May Swenson), the narrator explains to the audience the function of baseball equipment - ball, bat and mitt. Non-athletic associations arise frequently. "Bat waits for ball to mate...ball flirts...don't keep the date." The narrator attempts to catch a fly ball hit beyond reach. "Mitt has to quit in disgrace." The elements and details of baseball seem to overwhelm the narrator. Yet, there is a joyful conclusion that "It's done on a diamond, and for fun. It's about home, and its about run."

The narrator, probably not an adventurous swimmer, stands on the beach, "Holding the Towel" while searching the waves for a friend. The only clue to locating the friend is an orange bathing cap, which the narrator often confuses with a buoy. Many "round heads" are seen "dipping, rising, tipping." Alas, they are only floats. Narrator gives up on the search and leaves the beach (doing a mock breast stroke).

The game of chess is now described - from the viewpoint of the smallest chess piece - in "Summary by the Pawns" (poem by Virginia Hamilton Adair). With the stage transformed into an imaginary chess board, the pawn (Narrator) takes short steps, moving from spot to spot. "First the black square, then a white..." The steps are rigid. Yet the pawn observes the more varied movements of the larger pieces. "While around us with free gaits move the taller potentates." The pawn can occasionally dislodge another piece ("remove a man"). Yet, without warning, the pawn is knocked from the board. "Off, off, off, we go!"

"The Football Fumbler" is based on May Swenson's charming poem, "Watching the Jets Lose to Buffalo at Shea." The poet, not a knowledgeable football fan, has attended a game with the New York Jets at their home field, Shea Stadium. Ms. Swenson immediately forms a "nurturing bond" with the football, which she refers to as a "leather baby." She hugs the ball as she runs down the field, "to deliver the baby to a cradle of grass at the goalposts." Oh, but it is knocked away. She fumbles!!! Chastising herself, she laments, "Oh, what a blooper and a fumbler you are..." She pretends to cuddle her "leather baby" at the goal posts. Imagination triumphs over reality as she raises the football aloft in triumph, accompanied by the Notre Dame Cheer Song!

With this focus on sports, a narrator with athletic experience might deliver a suitable and comfortable presentation. However, a narrator entirely unfamiliar with sports might present a highly entertaining rendition. This would truly be "a new look athletic accomplishment!"

Notes by the composer