Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

The Voice

There are lots of famous speaking voices in the world. They’re usually famous because they’re distinctive, either because of their tone and timbre or their unique cadence … distinctive enough that you wouldn’t mistake them for anyone else.

Such as?  Right off the top of my head, I think of people like Groucho Marx … John F. KennedyWoody Allen … Carol Channing … Johnny Carson … William Shatner … James Earl Jones … probably most of the cast of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” … and for those of us in the marching band world, there’s nothing quite like the voice of Chuck Henson.

And, certainly in western Massachusetts, there was nothing like Jim MacRostie.

 

Jim MacRostie passed away this weekend.  He was a lot of things (I certainly learned some things from reading his obituary!), but perhaps his most public “gig” was, during the 1990s and much of the 2000s, as the voice of the UMass marching band. “Annnnd nowwww… please welllll-come… the POWERRRRR [just a bit of a growl to that word] and CLASS! [an ascent of at least a major sixth, in pursuit of that word] –of New England … … the University of Massachusetts .. Minuteman .. Marching .. BAND!”

There were those of us who thought his “AND NOWWWWW…” could be a wee bit over-the-top. Certainly, any time anyone holds forth in a booming voice, any mispronunications or halting turns of phrase are similarly amplified. Occasionally, particularly if it sounded as if perhaps MacRostie was improvising a bit toward the end of his post- postgame remarks, I would find myself murmuring with a combination of sympathy and embarrassment, “…ah, Jim…”

But if ever there was an organization that was a bit over-the-top itself, it would be the Minuteman Band. One might be forgiven for getting stentorian. When MacRostie began his UMMB intro, you couldn’t miss it. Sometimes it seemed he didn’t need amplification, so large was his voice.

The Jim MacRostie memory that makes me smile the most … is in fact a MacRostie impersonation. On a Drum Major Academy summer afternoon, one of my learned DMA staff colleagues unleashed his MacRostie impression on a dorm hallway full of other staff members — and it was so good and so funny that it cracked everybody right up, and caused one particular staff audience member to laugh in such a way that she almost literally couldn’t draw a breath. Part of the ferocious impact of his impersonation was thanks to his own rather humorous self — and surely part of that impact was due to the fact that the impersonator looked NOTHING like his source material — but if Jim MacRostie’s voice had been less distinctive, the impersonation might have fallen flat.  Or … he might never have ended up as the Voice of the Minuteman Marching Band to start with.

 

Perhaps when we next hear a rumble of thunder in the distance … it might be the start of a marching band show, up yonder.

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March 26, 2012 - Posted by | band, DMA, entertainment, marching band, UMMB | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] energy that I remembered. And still every performance began with the legendary voice that, to all of us from a certain era, was synonymous with the Power and Class of New […]

    Pingback by And Now … « Creative Exfoliation | March 26, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] energy that I remembered. And still every performance began with the legendary voice that, to all of us from a certain era, was synonymous with the Power and Class of New […]

    Pingback by And Now … « Creative Exfoliation | March 26, 2012 | Reply


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