- February 11, 2009
New John Williams Composition Performed at President Obama's Inauguration by Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, Gabriela Montero and Itzhak Perlman
Now Available Exclusively at iTunes
"Air and Simple Gifts" is a classical quartet written by American composer John Williams for the January 20, 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. The piece was first heard by the public in Washington, DC, and on simultaneous broadcasts around the world in a performance by Anthony McGill (clarinet), Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Gabriela Montero (piano). The premiere of Air and Simple Gifts came immediately before the oath of office. Barack Obama officially became the President at noon, as stipulated by the United States Constitution, while the piece was being heard.
John Williams based the piece on the familiar nineteenth-century Shaker hymn Simple Gifts by Joseph Brackett. The source piece is famous for its appearance in Aaron Copland's score for the ballet Appalachian Spring. Williams chose the selection knowing that Copland is one of President Obama's favorite classical composers.
Click to hear an excerpt from “Air and Simple Gifts.”
- January 16, 2009
On the heels of Yo-Yo Ma’s current success with his best-selling album, " Songs of Joy & Peace," the superstar cellist has been invited to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Obama on January 20, 2009. After Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in by Justice John Paul Stevens, Yo-Yo Ma along with Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet will perform the new work composed by John Williams, "Air and Simple Gifts." Then, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will administer the oath of office to Mr. Obama, who will then deliver his inaugural address.
Buy "Songs of Joy & Peace" from Amazon.com or iTunes
- January 15, 2009
Winner To Receive Opportunity To Record With Yo-Yo Ma
NEW YORK – January 16, 2009 – Today on NPR News’ All Things Considered, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will announce the grand prize winner of the Indaba Music contest, “Celebrate and Collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma.” Through Indaba Music, the leading online music collaboration web application and social network, Ma made available a pre-recorded melody of the classic piece, “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Give Us Peace). Members of the Indaba Music community, including musicians from all over the world, were challenged to record a counterpart to Ma’s cello or create a set of variations based on the main musical theme. The grand prize winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record with Yo-Yo Ma.
“I have always been a believer in what I can learn from other musicians of all ages, from all musical traditions,” says Yo-Yo Ma. “Through Indaba Music’s growing community of artists, I feel that I will find not only amazing talent with which to work but also engage a new audience – I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.”
An online community of professional, amateur and student musicians, Indaba Music offered this opportunity to work with Yo-Yo Ma to its more than 125,000 artists. Several prominent music schools and music educators used this as a teaching opportunity and integrated it into coursework.
Musicians had until December 31, 2008 to submit their piece. Ma challenged musicians to be creative and inspire him by submitting versions that move beyond the classical genre.
“Yo-Yo Ma values new kinds of artistic collaboration. His latest album, Songs of Joy and Peace, features creative collaborations with some of his favorite artist friends - James Taylor, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss, Chris Botti and Renée Fleming,” says Alex Miller, Senior VP/General Manager of Sony BMG Masterworks & Victor Label Group. “With Indaba Music, we extended an open invitation to the worldwide music community and are excited about what those musicians created.”
- December 22, 2008
On the heels of Yo-Yo Ma’s current success with his best-selling album, Songs of Joy & Peace, the superstar cellist has been invited to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Obama on January 20, 2009.
Associated Press said: “Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill will perform a new work composed by John Williams, who also provided music for Obama's election night rally in Chicago's Grant Park.”
For more information, please see complete article below.
Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma part of Obama inauguration
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays a piece by composer George Gershwin during a special convocation held to present Sen. Edward M. Kennedy with an honorary degree at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass.
WASHINGTON — Aretha Franklin will sing, the Rev. Rick Warren will pray and more than 11,000 U.S. troops will be watching over inauguration ceremonies in case of an attack during President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in on Jan. 20.
As many as 4 million visitors are expected to be on hand when Obama takes the noontime oath from Chief Justice John Roberts on the steps of the Capitol.
Some 4,000 local police, 4,000 police from around the country and security agents from other government agencies will be on hand, taking direction from the Secret Service. About 7,500 active duty military and 4,000 National Guard troops also will participate.
That includes a contingent on alert to respond to a chemical attack.
A "big chunk" of active and guard units will perform ceremonial work involving parades, reviews and honor guards, the U.S. commander in charge of domestic defense said Wednesday.
Planners are working under the assumption a terrorist or rogue element might try to interrupt the event, said Gen. Gene Renuart, head of the U.S. Northern Command. "So it's prudent for us to plan for the possibility of that kind of event, and to be prepared either to deter it or to respond to it," he said in a session with defense writers.
Also Wednesday, officials announced the list of participants for the inauguration.
The program is to feature poet Elizabeth Alexander; the Rev.
Joseph Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader; the U.S. Marine and Navy bands; and the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
"So it's prudent for us to plan for the possibility of that kind of event, and to be prepared either to deter it or to respond to it," he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said the day would be "an event of historic proportion." "It is appropriate that the program will include some of the world's most gifted artists from a wide range of backgrounds and genres," she said.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill will perform a new work composed by John Williams, who also provided music for Obama's election night rally in Chicago's Grant Park.
The committee did not release a title for the work by Williams, who is best known for his film scores such as "Star Wars" and "Jaws." Vice President-elect Joe Biden will take his oath from Justice John Paul Stevens.
Others on the schedule were a nod to Obama's election as the country's first black president.
Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr., was scheduled to offer the event's benediction.
Franklin, a living legend with 21 Grammies, performed for President Bill Clinton in 1993, but this would be her first Inauguration. During a Labor Day weekend rally in Detroit, Obama sang a bit of Franklin's "Chain of Fools" to her.
Alexander, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist and Yale University professor, centers her poems and essays on race relations and social movements.
She is only the fourth poet to have a speaking role at a presidential Inauguration. Robert Frost, who was 86 at the time, wrote a poem for Kennedy's inaugural in 1961 but couldn't make out the words of the poem in the sun's glare. Instead, he recited an earlier work. Clinton chose Maya Angelou to write a poem for his first inaugural in 1993, and Miller Williams read "Of History and Hope" at his second inaugural.
Liberal groups criticized the inclusion of Warren, whose "Purpose Driven Life" books and lectures have made his church among the largest in the country. People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said Warren's support for California Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, should have blocked his invitation.
A popular figure among evangelicals, Warren remained publicly neutral during the presidential campaign. He invited both Obama and his Republican rival John McCain to his Saddleback Church in Orange County for a forum on faith and public service.
- December 16, 2008
It's a "Yo-Yo Ma Holiday Party" radio special. Really great coverage on primary public radio stations in the biggest cities - 18 stations in the top 20 markets.
Click here to find the station, date and time nearest you.
- December 15, 2008
Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss perform "The Wexler Carol" from Yo-Yo Ma's new album, "Songs of Joy and Peace" on the CBS Early Morning Show.
Visit CBS.com to see the video.