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Senior League players greeted with anthems

Bangor Daily News | BDN
Bangor Daily News | BDN
Bangor Band member Stu Markoon displays the variety of national anthems the band plays for the teams visiting at the Senior League World Series before the opening ceremony of this years games in Bangor, Saturday, August 14, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/Michael C. York)

BANGOR, Maine — When members of the Bangor Band tuned up for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Senior League World series at Mansfield Stadium on Saturday evening, they faced a challenging program.

Five national anthems were on the agenda, one for each country represented in the ballgames. “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada” are old standbys, said Bangor Band president and principal trumpet player Lori Wingo. Italy’s “Il Canto degli Italiani” (The Song of the Italians) and Aruba’s “Aruba Dushi Tera” (Aruba Precious Country) have each been on the program once before, she said.

But “Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi” (In the Middle of the Sea), the anthem of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is new to the Bangor Band this year.

So new, in fact, that the musicians didn’t even see the music until their 6 p.m. rehearsal Saturday, about an hour before the 7 p.m. concert and opening ceremonies at Mansfield Stadium.

The Bangor Band has been providing a musical backdrop to the Senior League games for four years, Wingo said. At first, their job was to play some cheerful pre-game marches while fans filed into the stadium. More recently, they’ve undertaken to play the national anthem of each team represented during the opening ceremo-nies. Locating the music for tiny, far-flung nations such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands can prove a challenge, she said, especially since many countries are politically unstable.

“With all the coups and political upheavals, you could start some kind of international incident if you played the wrong anthem,” Wingo said.

Wingo discovered that the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” keeps an up-to-date archive of the national anthems of every country in the world — some 195 by most counts. A phone call gets the music sent as a PDF document to her e-mail box, usually within a few hours.

Most national anthems aren’t too complicated, Wingo said optimistically Saturday afternoon. Even if they’re full of tricky trills and flourishes, she said, it’s worth the trouble it takes to play them live at the Senior League opening ceremonies.

“There is nothing more gratifying than watching those boys’ faces light up when they realize someone’s actually playing their anthem,” she said. “They’re so far away from home, and here’s the Bangor Band, way out here in the middle of nowhere, playing their national anthem.”

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