Saturday, January 24, 2009

'Tis A Gift To Be Simple, 'Tis A Gift To Be Free

*please play the video below as you read






Musicians breathe together like lovers.

On this Inauguration Day 2009...
The cello danced. The violin cried. . From Copland's ballet "Appalachian Spring" (1944), a world class quartet played through the stroke of midday as Barack Obama became the 44th President of The United States. I think I held my breath the whole time. The first shadow drawn from Perlman's bow.....and then a leaning crescendo from the dancing cellist. Oh, how Ma can dance with the strings. The flag danced with the violin. Did you see it? Birds flew over the Capitol. The weight of the world just moments away...... and then a gloved hand on his shoulder. A wink for his daughter.... The ballet begins anew. John William's new arrangement "Air and Simple Gifts" for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration - featuring Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo Yo Ma (cello) Gabriela Montero (piano) Anthony McGill (clarinet) Cold fingers on fast keys... and joyful duets

23 comments:

Travis said...

The music captured the essence of the moment so well for me. It was uplifting and full of the promise of hope.

Julie said...

Thanks for doing this Mimi...this was a glorious moment for the day.

JHS said...

It was beautiful. I love the new arrangement, esp. the way the "Simple Gifts" theme seems to creep in from nowhere, then takes off joyfully. Williams is brilliant, as are all of the musicians who played. (In fact, one of the bands I am in just performed Frank Ticheli's "Simple Gifts" in December. That's also a lovely arrangement.)

I laughed when I heard some radio personalities criticizing the musicians for recording the performance in advance. Any musician knows the power of temperature changes. I can imagine what could have happened out there and am glad I have never been asked to play in temperatures that cold!! My lips would probably freeze onto the mouthpiece of my flute or piccolo!

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - It was definitely a highlight for me. I could listen to this piece over and over.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julie - I believe you and I were talking while in real-time at this very moment. Remember? You'll be the "who-were-you-with" person for me! lol

Mimi Lenox said...

Janie - Williams IS brilliant. I loved the tempo changes. It felt like a journey, a novel, a story, a symphony.

I, too, laughed at the commentary and criticism of the recording.
They just don't get it.

CrAzY Working Mom said...

It was an exciting day!!!!

bobbie said...

thank you so much for posting this, Mimi. It was wonderful on Jan.20th, and is as wonderful now. I've copied it to my own music blog.
Your accompanying pictures are also wonderful.

Tarheel Rambler said...

Before I learned of the recording I remember thinking that it was amazing that they sounded that good in that weather. In fact, I was wondering how that was possible, because being a musician, I know it's not possible for instruments to be in tune when it's that cold.

Mimi Lenox said...

Tish - I will revisit this post a lot just to listen. It was a fabulous day for all of us.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bobbie - I'm glad you enjoyed it. The first and last images I snapped right from my TV screen as it was happening. It seemed a bit silly at the time but now I'm glad I did. There are more I should post for posterity.

Mimi Lenox said...

Tarheel - Pianos lose their tone after 2 hours if it's below 55 degrees. They played with the recording of course. There really was no other way to do it. Can you imagine the scrambling they would have had to do had it snowed? Or rained? Yikes.

I find it particularly interesting that the music played the Shaker Hymn at the exact moment he became President....even before the oath. At 12:00 they were already engaged in the music and he became President during the piece.

Perfection.

Mimi Lenox said...

P.S. There are moments in our lives when all the stars are aligned perfectly. This was such a day. And THIS especially was such a moment.

Kanani said...

The arrangement by John Williams was wonderful, and to have four of the finest musicians in the world playing was perfection!

fishingaround said...

It was so lovely.

I like how Yo Yo Ma always looks so happy when he plays.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good pictures. Why Were you not playing the piano?

Jamie said...

I think people respond to this piece simply because it is so old with so much history. Copeland took it from Shaker Hymn Simple Gifts that got its melody from the Olde English hymn Lord of the Dance with the life of Jesus in its lyrics that the Shakers would dance to in their services.

Barbara said...

Hi Mimi,
I'm sorry that I have been missing from your blog. I've been busy and onto some new projects.
I'm programming again time for catching up.

I didn't miss the Inauguration and followed the whole ceremony.
I was mighty proud, even so far away from my home nation.

I'm proud as an American and as a former Hawaii resident too. I'm hopeful too but also realistic.
It's "roll up your sleeves" time.

Hugs to you, my friend xx

bundleocontradictions said...

That shot of Obama's expression at his wife's touch. Makes you wonder what's going on in his mind.

Desert Songbird said...

I loved this arrangement. I was mesmerized while listening on Inauguration Day.

Julie said...

Well of course Mimi! I will always remember that moment with you.

*flutters eyelashes*

Ferd said...

I caught this performance while I was in a patient's room. It stopped me in my tracks. When it was finished, I walked out to wipe tears from my eyes.

P.A. said...

What a monumental moment.

Music can really be helpful in binding people to unite.

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