With the Eagles now headed toward the playoffs with their win Sunday over the Rams, another of the city’s big teams is cheering them on — musically.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has recorded “Fly, Eagles, Fly” in a specially orchestrated version by Nashville-based composer/orchestrator Jim Gray, and it is luxe.
Timpani drive the music forward and cymbals crash in the “Score a touchdown, 1-2-3” section, and then, for “Hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low,” violins race across the field with a gee-whiz melody while the cellos take the stirring counter-melody.
The entire ensemble turns to the camera for “E-A-G-L-E-S – Eagles!” with a flourish of bows in the air.
Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts in — what else? —an Eagles jersey, No. 8 (he is counted as the orchestra’s eighth music director, since Charles Dutoit’s title was chief conductor).
It just so happened that the video was posted on a day when the Eagles may have lost star quarterback Carson Wentz for the season due to a knee injury, suffered during Sunday’s game. That put a damper on the Eagles’ win. The orchestra noted Wentz’s injury in a tweet with the video:
— PhilOrch (@philorch) December 11, 2017
“Fly, Eagles, Fly” — originally credited to Philadelphia ad men Charles J. Borrelli and Roger Courtland as the “Eagles Victory March,” and then updated with new words written by the Philadelphia Eagles Pep Band — has phased in and out of popularity since first appearing, most likely in the 1950s.
More recently, in 2014, it was named one of the 10 top NFL fight songs by Billboard. “Super-short and instantly memorable, ‘Fly, Eagles, Fly’ works more like a great jingle than a great fight song. There’s not much musical pizzazz, but everybody at an Eagles game knows all the words,” wrote Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz.
The orchestra has entered the sports arena before, or at least made plummy noises at the sidelines. It performed “Casey at the Bat“ at the Mann Center in 2013, and in 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series and the city celebrated with a parade, the orchestra opened its doors to a matinee concert and programmed festive music with musicians in Phillies garb.
“The orchestra is an important part of the fabric of our city. We’re here to celebrate our successes together as much as providing comfort in times of sadness and tragedy,” said the orchestra vice president for artistic planning, Jeremy Rothman. “The city is rallying behind the amazing run the Eagles are experiencing, and this is a way for us to hopefully bring even more joy and energy to the city.”
And how might the Eagles reciprocate? Some might argue that the orchestra, as one of the great ensembles nationally, has been at Super Bowl status, or the musical equivalent, for decades.
Says Rothman: “l think we’d gladly let them bring the Super Bowl trophy to an orchestra concert sometime in February. No pressure, of course.”