The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden takes place Wednesday. Music has been central to the Office of the President of the United States, including the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. Music also has been an important face of White House cultural life, from celebrations to somber moments.
WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about the many different musical compositions that have become vital to the presidency and our culture.
Stewart on Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait:
“This is an amazing piece that lasts about thirteen minutes and is divided into three sections: an opening section about Lincoln’s gentleness—and some of the tragedy that was to come, a spirited middle section which evokes the times and spaces of Lincoln’s life, and the third section (about seven minutes in) when the narration begins.
This piece brings in those musical elements which are immediately identified as Copland-esque: simple harmonies, pungent dissonances, energetic rhythms, and orchestral textures ranging from intimate solos to gigantic sweeps.”
On the “President’s Own” band:
“The Marine Band is a remarkable group of world-class musicians who log over 500 concerts and ceremonies annually. The band has played at every U.S. Presidential Inauguration since Thomas Jefferson’s in 1801. While today there are many musicians from the armed services performing as a part of Inauguration, only “The President’s Own” participates in the swearing-in ceremony itself, the parade, and the ball. You can always see “The President’s Own” seated directly beneath the inauguration platform where the swearing-in ceremony occurs.”