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Classical Notes

Classical Music at the Inauguration

Posted at 4:41 AM on December 27, 2008 by Gillian Martin (9 Comments)

Aretha Franklin isn't the only musician on the program for Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20th.

Composer and film music legend John Williams has been commissioned to write a new piece, to be performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill.

I can't find anymore information about the piece, but you can find out more about the program for the inauguration here.


Comments (9)

JOHN WILLIAMS?? That poseur?

Out of all the SERIOUS COMPOSERS working today in this country they can't do any better than that phony???

JUST SHOOT ME NOW!

Posted by Montaigne | December 27, 2008 11:24 PM


Oh, the gloves are off now! If you were inaugurated as President, what living American composer would you commission to write a piece?

Posted by Gillian Martin | December 29, 2008 1:17 AM


Me? I'd just book the Cantina band: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mos_Eisley_Catina_Band
Yet another reason I'll never be inaugurated as president. I pal around with aliens!

Posted by Alex Coppock | December 29, 2008 11:12 AM


Gillian wrote:

Oh, the gloves are off now! If you were inaugurated as President, what living American composer would you commission to write a piece?

Eric Whitacre? John Adams?

You just KNOW that with the choice of Williams the Obama presidency has staked out its claim on safe middle-brow mediocrity. This is what it's going to be like for four years. Oprah for spiritual leadership fits just fine with the choice of Williams.

Just shoot me now.

Posted by Montaigne | December 29, 2008 11:36 PM


John Williams is a popularist, it's a fact. Everyone loves Star Wars, etc. Most everyone I know (and I know mostly classical music fans) hates modern "serious" composers like Adams. Of course they're going to choose Williams. And frankly I'd rather have Williams there to direct people toward more serious music than someone like Adams to drive them away. Then again, this is an inauguration, and has nothing to do with music. I'd still love to see Obama inaugurated to something like the Throne Room theme!

Posted by hackel | December 30, 2008 3:11 PM


How about Kernis.  He could write something as inspiration from black progressing to blue, or something reflecting the bumpy years ahead in  "black and blue". Happy New Year!

Posted by kris | January 1, 2009 2:30 AM


kris wrote:
How about Kernis.


First, I want to apologize for my...um...excess of zeal -- plain bad, offensive taste, actually -- in a previous comment. Sometimes the devil makes me hit *Send* even when I know I shouldn't.

But for us uninitiated, who is this "Kemis?"

Posted by Montaigne | January 2, 2009 3:24 PM


That would be Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Other good choices who wouldn't drive casual listeners towards their mute buttons would be John Harbison and John Corigliano. And honestly, I like a lot of Adams's stuff, but for a presidential inauguration? I'd stay away from minimalism and other postmodernist experimentalism - there's really nothing wrong (or anti-intellectual) about a melody...

Posted by Sam | January 2, 2009 10:07 PM


Thanks to Sam for enlightening me about Mr. Kemis.

It seems there is no shortage of good candidates for the inauguration composer job without having to completely PUNT and go to the likes of Williams. RIGHT GILLIAN?

Who started this whole canard about movie music being "serious" music? IT'S MOVIE MUSIC FOR CRIMINY SAKES ALIVE!

Posted by Montaigne | January 4, 2009 12:31 AM