Snopek Plays Ball

The first time I became aware of Sigmund Snopek III was during the mid-70’s when he had a one-man band at the Summerfest comedy tent. He’d entertain the restless crowds waiting for the next comedian with such original tunes as “Waukesha Window” and always end his set with the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” Even back then his musical virtuosity was evident to any who’d pay attention. He’s kept busy since then by leading such diverse bands as “The Bloomsbury People” and “Snopek.” He’s toured round the world and been featured on recordings by both the Femmes and Tom Paxton. “It was the late 1960s, long before the phrase ‘prog rock’ was coined,” he says. “I began a quest to find a new musical voice. At the heart was a desire to combine classical music with rock music, electronic music, and theater — to explore new ways to share ideas and images. In part, my journey was launched by my musician’s disdain for ‘commercial’ pop music. More importantly, my natural inclination to search outside of traditional music genres fueled my explorations into unusual chord progressions, distinctive rhythms, and unexpected melodies. I felt certain that there were new depths to be found in modern music, new mysteries to be discovered.” As a classical composer, Snopek has written symphonies, operas, ensemble compositions, and song cycles. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Theatre X, Summerfest, Irish Fest and Present Music have showcased many of his works. In 1995, his opera “Trocaire” (Gaelic for “compassion”) premiered at Irish Fest. Sung in English, Irish, and Somalian, the one-hour work featured, among other things, a choir, seven principles, and an Irish folk band. Condensing 5,000 years of Irish history into three acts is no easy trick. Even for a man who is part Irish — his mother’s maiden name is Behan. “Legend has it that the great Irish writer Brendan Behan is a relative,” he adds with a sly smile. Indeed, his current band, “Angel Breath,” combines elements of Irish music with original material and features Sigmund himself on keyboards A current project, “Baseball,” was birthed by Angel Breath when he asked his musician friends if they had any songs about baseball. The result is a two CD set, eclectic in nature, featuring “musical baseball cards” orchestrated and sung in a post-modern John Adams or Phillip Glass fashion. Molitor, Bonds, Sosa, Gantner, and Robinson are a few of the “cards,” which are interspersed with whimsical commercial jingles written by Snopek for Riverwest bars: The Tracks, the Uptowner, and Klingers. You can purchase it through, or at any of his live performances. He’s easy to find at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn where he plays at 10 p.m. the first and third Monday of every month.