Yo Yo Ma and Friends' Musical Ode to Honor Obama
Presidents have chosen poets, sopranos, and even choirs to perform at past inaugurations.
But never before has one picked a classical quartet during such a critical moment in the ceremony.
It all began when the President-elect had asked Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman to perform, and they, in turn called John Williams, a frequent collaborator with both artists, "to help them prepare something to play." Mr. Ma chose the other two performers, clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gabriela Montero to round out this unique and diverse quartet.
He's perhaps the most recognized classical musician on the planet. He's a cultural humanitarian whose good works have caught the ear of the next president of the United States.
"I have to pinch myself to actually believe that 'yes we can' do it," said renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
It won't be his first serenade, Yo Yo Ma has played for five sitting presidents.
We brought him to the Kennedy Presidential Library to share one of those memories.
At the tender age of seven, he and his sister played for President John F. Kennedy.
"This is unbelievable, isn't it? It was like 45 years ago," he said.
Mr. Ma is both student and teacher with a humility that can offer a lesson to even the most hopeless of cases.
The quartet played the piece for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 13, in New York. They will rehearse again and record it with Mr. Williams on Sunday, Jan 18 as an emergency back-up in case of inclement weather.
Chamber groups are not usually conducted so Mr. Williams will not be seen on Jan. 20, as he attends the inauguration as part of the crowd.
Along with Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, clarinetist Anthony McGill, and pianist Gabriella Montero will introduce their ode to Mr. Obama, a piece created by famed "Star Wars" composer John Williams.
Additionally, the quartet will also perform the traditional Shaker hymn, The Gift to Be Simple from Mr. Copland's 1944 ballet, Appalachian Spring, which Mr. Williams had arranged for this special quartet. It is well known in the classical music circle that Mr. Obama likes Aaron Copland's works.
Inauguration-related Articles provided by this writer on NP:
- Inauguration Day Program - Jan.20, 2009
- Mr. Obama Honors McCain, Powell, and Biden
- Opening Ceremonies Kick-Off at the Lincoln Memorial
- Presidential Inauguration 2009 Schedule and National Security
- Obama-Biden Whistle Stop Train Tour to Washington D.C.
- Lincoln Memorial Celebration - Preliminary Program
- Pre-Inauguration Lineups: Bipartisan Dinners; Children's Concert
- The Smithsonian Acquires Barack Obama's Image
- Techno-Access to Presidential Inauguration 2009
- The Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball
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- Unofficial Presidential Inaugural Balls
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