By now nearly every American has heard that Beyonce faked her way through performing the National Anthem live at President Obama's inauguration on Monday, January 23, 2013 with many people crying foul play. According to recent reports the pop princess didn't have enough time to rehearse with the U.S. Marine Band and decided to lip synch to a pre-recorded track. It seems like a great deal of time was wasted recording the track when the singer could have been rehearsing with the band instead. It was, after all, the same music she used for her recording.
It's been done before, however, it was for completely different reasons. In 2009 world class classical musicians cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero, and clarinetist Anthony McGill did not play John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts" that was projected onto the Mall.
NPR spoke to Yo Yo Ma on "All Things Considered" about the 2009 inauguration. Famed film composer John Williams composed a special theme for the day, "Air and Simple Gifts" using the same melody which Aaron Copeland used in music for the ballet "Appalachian Spring." The day of the inauguration in 2009 the quartet showed up for a sound check in below-freezing temperatures. The keys of Montero's piano were sticking. The violin and cello refused to stay in tune. The piano technician disconnected the keys from the hammers on the piano. To prevent disaster and damage to million dollar instruments, Ma and Perlman used alternates and soaped their bows to dampen the strings. The quartet pretended they were playing live.
It is, perhaps, the force of modern convention which creates this very problem. Rather than a private affair for a few invitees inside the White House, the presidential inauguration has become a stadium event on the lawn. Since the inauguration must take place by January 21st, the winter weather is always a crap shoot. Said Yo-Yo Ma four years ago:
Let me put it to you this way. If we had not done that, we would have had four and a half minutes of absolute disaster. Everything would have been out of tune. We would have had broken strings. Basically, you would have had a very poor, "American Idol "rendition of what, you know, what John Williams had created, which is a beautiful piece of music. And we really knew that our purpose there was to serve the moment just before the swearing-in of the president.
This does not appear to be the case at all for Beyonce. She arrived perfectly coiffed, her make up was perfect, she had time to purchase a gown or have one purchased for her, she even had time to rehearse in front of a mirror. She just didn't make the time to rehearse with the band. By contrast Kelly Clarkson sang "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" live with that same U.S. Marine Band.
For future performances it is suggested that a classical quartet could perform in a heated plexiglass cage giving the illusion on being in the same place. Either that or perhaps it's time to televise from indoors somehow since the crowd is so large that not many can even see what's going on. And, of course, it's time to hire one of the many talented, classically trained, or together professional singers who can handle the demands of coordinating time to rehearse, one of the basics of professional conduct.
Read more articles about the National Anthem:
- Yes, Beyonce lip-synched The National Anthem, so what?
- O say can you sing the National Anthem?
- Christina Aguilera's National Anthem, Fergie of Black Eyed Peas Defends Her
- Christina Aguilera's National Anthem snafu, do you know the words?
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