On one of my columns recently, where much inauguration controversy was raging, my blogging friend Rob wisely commented:
Not going to touch some of the controversy, but I did want to say that the highlight of the event for me was the instrumental quartet that performed in the middle of the inauguration.
What a gathering — the best violinist and cellist of our modern day, a rising star of a clarinetist, and the pianist to whose concert I once took a group of my piano students.
It was unexpected and beautiful. I had not expected anything in the inauguration to move me to tears, but that song was just so beautiful, I couldn’t help but thank God for inventing music and giving these people such gifts to share with the world.
I agreed with his assessment, and this morning was interested to learn that what most people heard was not live music, rather a recording. The report is that the extreme cold was feared to have made it impossible for the instruments to stay in tune. As I understand it, the quartet played live, also, matching note for note the recording.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill made the decision a day before Tuesday’s inauguration after a sound check to use a previously recorded audio tape for the broadcast of the ceremonies.
Please listen to this hauntingly beautiful performance, a stellar component of the inauguration of President Obama.
EDIT Friday Jan. 23: Now it seems there is a flap over this being done. Yahoo News reports:
NEW YORK – To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, here we go again.
The revelation that millions of people who saw the inauguration of President Barack Obama were actually listening to recorded music instead of the actual performance of the Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman-led quartet has led to comparisons of lip-synching (though, in this case, might the correct term be hand-synching?) and drawn comparisons to other infamous cases, including Ashlee Simpson’s “Saturday Night Live” debacle and perhaps music’s most famous pantomimes, Milli Vanilli.
More details here.