"Do I dare disturb the universe?"
~T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A musical Inauguration brings hope for the Arts

Music played a crucial role in President Obama's inauguration today, and with it came a feeling of invigorating relief and forward motion.

CNN broadcasted the words of American jazz musician/composer/arranger Quincy Jones during their coverage of the Inauguration.  As a friend of Barack Obama's, he is requesting that Obama create a new official cabinet position: Secretary of the Arts.  With arts funding suffering under the previous administration, and especially now, due to the economy crash, our role in being arts advocates is even more imperative.  I might be being too idealistic, but I really hope that Obama's approval will come to pass.  To sign a petition to support it, click here: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/esnyc/petition.html

Regarding other thoughts, a quartet that consisted of Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano), and Anthony McGill (clarinet) performed "Air and Simple Gifts," arranged by John Williams, at the Inauguration.  The piece opened with Perlman's angelic, rubato strains, and Yo-Yo Ma entered with the deep, resonant tone of the cello.  When the clarinet sang the first familiar phrase from Simple Gifts, one could not help but think of "Appalachian Spring" and the inherent American sound of Copland.  The piano joined and it became a swift journey of the American spirit, and a sound of new hope for the future in this coming era.

Josh Groban, who never fails to move me with his genuine musicality and rich, true voice, performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" on Monday the 19th with Heather Headley and the DC Gay Men's Chorus, a really fantastic blending of voices.  The two unique voices each brought out different colors and blended fantastically with the choir.  U2 also performed a passionate "In the Name of Love" among other songs on Sunday, one of numerous other artists to perform on inaugural weekend.

Many a marching band also carried this spirit through the parade, including the first openly gay band to march in the Inaugural parade (a contingent from the Lesbian and Gay Band Association).

I only felt that a physical manifestation of this excitement was lacking.  Perhaps a Secretary of the Arts would put dance in its proper place, at the forefront of the arts, for the first time.

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