MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Inauguration Fanfares

Let the music begin.

On Tuesday 19 January at 12pm EST, the Hope & Harmony Ensemble will give a livestream performance in honor of the upcoming Inauguration. Led by Marin Alsop, they will play Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman*.

The Hope & Harmony Ensemble brings together 14 brass and percussion players from all around the United States: one musician each from the Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Peabody Institute, South Asian Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Utah Symphony.

This tribute is the brainchild of Neeta Helms, founder and president of the DC area-based tour company Classical Movements. Helms conceived the idea over a dozen years ago and sees it as an offering to unite a bitterly divided country through the power of music. The Hope & Harmony Ensemble was chosen to reflect the diversity of the American people.

“I am elated to be able to finally celebrate our first female Vice President. I am deeply inspired by Kamala Harris – and as an Indian-born American, I feel particular personal pride that her mother was Indian and in her archetypically American background,” says Neeta Helms. “In this time of difficulty and hardship, it is also fitting that we celebrate Joe Biden, an example to us all for his ideals of decency and hope and his perseverance in the face of hardship and tragedy. Filling a unique and vital role in the music industry that has been hit so hard by the pandemic, it was essential to us to create an ensemble that represented and celebrated our nation’s diversity, featuring women and men equally.”

In addition to footage of each musician, recorded in their homes and on site across the country, the presentation incorporates photographs and video illustrating “America the Beautiful” and the context of the struggle for civil rights and equality for women in the United States. Classical Movements has partnered with video and sound engineers Arts Laureate to produce these videos.

You can watch the presentation on Classical Movements’ YouTube channel and Facebook page.

*My profile of Joan Tower starts on p. 27 here. And here’s a little background I wrote on Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1:

Tower alludes in several ways to Copland’s 1942 Fanfare for the Common Man, which had been commissioned as one of a series of fanfares to support the Allied struggle in World War Two. Tower similarly scores for a brass and percussion ensemble but uses a much more extended array of percussion instruments. With its mix of tuned and untuned instruments, this section actually resembles a miniature orchestra of its own. Tower also packs a greater variety of thematic material and textural contrast into her fanfare. 

Filed under: American music, Joan Tower, music news

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