Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has just announced the official program for the inauguration of America’s 44th president (Barack Obama). Without official tickets for admission, you can still take part in the show if you snag a seat up close on the National Mall closest to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman are among the scheduled guests.
From the official release of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the order of the program (with artist biographies) will be as follows:
The United States Marine Band
The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
The Honorable John Paul Stevens
Musical Selection, John Williams, composer/arranger
Itzhak Perlman, Violin
Yo-Yo Ma, Cello
Gabriela Montero, Piano
Anthony McGill, Clarinet
Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama
By the Chief Justice of the United States
The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.
The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
The National Anthem
The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”
Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher. She is the author of four books and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She has received many grants and honors, most recently the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954,” and the 2007 Jackson Prize for Poetry. She is a professor at Yale University and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University this year.
Aretha Franklin is often described as "The Queen of Soul." In a career spanning more than 50 years, she has earned a reputation as one of the greatest singers of our time, with a repertoire that includes soul, jazz, rock, blues, pop, and gospel. Franklin has won 21 Grammy Awards, including the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. In 1987 she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other awards include the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Kennedy Center Honors.
The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, considered the dean of the civil rights movement, co-founded along with Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and served as president and chief executive officer from 1977 to January 15, 1998. He served as pastor of Atlanta’s oldest predominantly Black United Methodist congregation, Central Methodist Gardens for 18 years, and as pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church from 1986 to 1992.
Anthony McGill is the principal clarinetist of the New York Metropolitan Orchestra, a member of the Peabody Conservatory faculty in clarinet, and a much sought after soloist and chamber musician. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, he is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, a program designed to provide support for up-and-coming instrumentalists. He has performed at many music festivals, and appeared as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, New Jersey, and Hilton Head, and performed at Lincoln Center as a member of Chamber Music Society Two. McGill has also toured Europe and Japan with a chamber ensemble including Mitsuko Uchida and members of the Brentano String Quartet.
Yo-Yo Ma is a world renowned cellist, educator, and ambassador for the arts. His recordings are among the most successful recordings in the classical field, and reflect his wide-ranging interest in many musical genres and traditions. He began studying the cello at age four. He studied at the Juilliard School, and is a graduate of Harvard University. His awards include the Avery Fisher Prize, the Glenn Gould Prize, and the National Medal of the Arts. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the United States Department of State in 2002, Yo-Yo Ma has met with, trained, and mentored thousands of students worldwide. In 2006, Secretary General Kofi Annan named him a U.N. Messenger of Peace, and in 2007 Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon extended his appointment.
Gabriela Montero is a pianist known both for her impeccable classical playing and her improvisational gift. Montero gave her first public performance at the age of five. At age eight she made her concert debut with the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra, and was granted a scholarship to study in the United States. At twelve she won the Baldwin National Competition and AMSA Young Artist International Piano Competition. She won the Bronze Medal at the 13th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1995, and since then has played at recital halls and festivals around the world. Her recordings include both performances of well known classical compositions, as well as improvisations on themes by Bach and other classical composers.
Itzhak Perlman is one of the greatest violinists of our time. Following his training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and the Julliard School, Perlman won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964. Since then, Perlman has performed with every major orchestra throughout the world. He has also conducted orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic. He has won 15 Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, and numerous other awards including the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, and the Medal of Liberty, presented by President Reagan in 1986 to honor the nation’s most distinguished naturalized citizens during the centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty. Perlman is also an educator, teaching at the Perlman Music Program and the Juilliard School, where he holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair.
Dr. Rick Warren founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980 with one family. Today, it is an evangelical congregation averaging 22,000 weekly attendees, a 120-acre campus, and has more than 300 community ministries to groups such as prisoners, CEOs, addicts, single parents, and those with HIV/AIDS. He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. TIME magazine named him one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004,” and in 2005 one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
John Williams is one of the most successful and best-known composers of our time. He studied at UCLA, Los Angeles City College, and the Juilliard School. Williams has composed the music and served as a music director for more than one hundred films, has received forty-five Academy Award nominations, and won five. He also has been awarded seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), twenty Grammys, four Golden Globes, four Emmys, numerous gold and platinum records, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Williams has written many concert pieces, and special compositions for events including the Special Olympics, and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. From1980-1993, Williams conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra, and assumed the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor after retiring in December 1993. Williams also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.
The San Francisco Boys Chorus ( SFBC ) was founded in 1948 and has become an internationally acclaimed Grammy-award winning organization. The chorus has over 240 singers from 50 Bay Area cities and more than 120 schools at three Bay Area campuses. SFBC has toured in four continents where they performed for dignitaries such as: Pope John Paul II, HRH Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, HM Prince of Wales, the President of the former Soviet Union, and U.S presidents. SFBC celebrated their 60 year anniversary this year.
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) is comprised of more than 300 singers, ages 7-18, from 160 schools in 44 Bay Area cities. SFGC was founded in 1978 and has become a regional center for choral music education and performance. The Chorus can also be heard on several San Francisco Symphony recordings, including three Grammy Award-winners. In 2001, SFGC became the first youth chorus to win the prestigious Margaret Hillis Award given annually by Chorus America to a chorus that demonstrates artistic excellence, a strong organizational structure, and a commitment to education.
The United States Marine Band, founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, is America’s oldest professional musical organization. Also called “The President’s Own,” the Marine Band is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances. The Marine Band performs a varied repertoire including new works for wind ensemble, traditional concert band literature, challenging orchestral transcriptions, and the patriotic marches that made it famous. The band frequently features its members in solo performances that highlight their virtuosity and artistry.
The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters" is the official chorus of the United States Navy. In 1956, Lt. Harold Fultz, then the Band's assistant leader, organized an all male group of singers from the Navy School of Music in Anacostia for the State of the Nation dinner. The group was an instant success, so Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, transferred them to the Navy Band, named them the “Sea Chanters,” and gave them the mission of carrying on the songs of the sea. Women joined the “Sea Chanters” in 1980. The chorus appears throughout the United States and has also sung with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.