With the Nashville Predators facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Nashville’s first-ever Stanley Cup Final, hockey fever has swept through the city, including its concert halls.
The Nashville Symphony recently voiced their support with a group chant of “We want the cup,” and visiting soloist Zuill Bailey rocked a Predators blazer during his performance with the symphony this past weekend. Now, you can get the “Preds Fan Discount” when buying most Nashville Symphony tickets.
And they’re no bandwagoners: The symphony has been on board since day one. Here’s a cool, 360-degree performance of a John Williams medley they performed at the Predators’ opening night back in October. The music must’ve set the right mood, since the Preds defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.
It’s not just the Cup that’s at stake. The Nashville and Pittsburgh Operas have agreed on a friendly wager: The artistic directors of each opera will wear the other team’s jersey on opening night of Tosca (both companies happen to be staging Puccini’s work in October) should their team lose.
To help keep the winning momentum going (and to keep the Nashville Opera stage Penguin jersey-free this fall), here’s a playlist curated for Preds fans, featuring some of classical music’s most triumphant works.
Émile Waldteufel: The Skaters’ Waltz (1882)
OK, so maybe this piece isn’t exactly triumphant, but a hockey playlist wouldn’t be complete without Waldteufel’s The Skaters’ Waltz. Think of it as a musical warm-up, and let the swirling music remind you of the absolute finesse it takes be a master on the ice. Let the oompah-pah rhythms be the puck, dancing around the rink at lightning speeds; the cymbal crashes in reverence of the player who is repeatedly body-checked by another 200-pound man and skates on as if it were nothing.
George Frideric Handel: Zadok the Priest, HWV 258 (1727)
Just like the Preds — the underdog team that, earlier this season, few would have predicted would be playing in the Stanley Cup Final — Handel’s famous piece sneaks up on you in the best way. The opening orchestral passage bubbles with an excitement that an unsuspecting listener might miss. When the choir enters, Handel unleashes a wall (Voices! Brass! Timpani!) of victorious sound. It’s no wonder that Zadok is a British coronation favorite, and it’s the perfect piece for the crowning of a new Stanley Cup champion team.
Carl Orff: “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana (1935-6)
After a controversial trade, Preds defensemen P.K. Subban was quick to express his destiny as a Cup finalist: “When I got traded, I said it. I said I believed I was going to have a tremendous opportunity to win a Stanley Cup with this team. Maybe got a little bit of slack for it … but I believe in this dressing room.”
Whether that trade was fated to lead Subban to a victory this season is yet to be seen, but no piece portrays destiny more dramatically than Orff’s “O Fortuna.” With a Latin text about the fickleness of fortune, the work has been used (and abused) in a number of movies and TV spots, including, rather fittingly, this Gatorade commercial about heroic athletes rising to the occasion.
Richard Wagner: “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre (1870)
Speaking of destiny, one of Wagner’s most famous pieces depicts the mythological female spirits who fly over battlefields and help determine the fate of fighting warriors. May the Valkyries ride in our favor.
Queen: "We Are the Champions" (Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra)
As one of the most frequently played songs at sporting events, it would be hard to overlook Queen's classic anthem of victory. Here it is with a classical spin, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Don Jackson.
Nigel Westlake: “Penguin Ballet” from Antarctica Suite for Guitar and Orchestra (1991)
To be fair, here’s something for the Penguin fans out there. “Penguin Ballet” is the lovely and playful third movement from Westlake’s Antarctica Suite, which was originally composed to accompany the IMAX film Antarctica. While Westlake includes one triumphant and dramatic moment in the piece, overall there’s nothing that really screams “Stanley Cup Champion.” Sorry, Penguins!