January 20, 2009

Tuned in

I caught part of the inauguration of Barack Obama. All very impressive – even the new President’s bumbling of the oath-of-office, which finally showed, in a much needed way, that he’s human.

I liked the stellar and politically correct quartet of cellist  Yo-Yo Ma (Chinese-American), Itzhak Perlman (Israeli-American), clarinetist Anthony McGill (African-American) and the half-finger-gloved pianist Gabriela Montero (female-American), who all are at the top of their tree when it comes to their instruments. Of course they played an arrangement by the Hollywood classicist, John Williams, since there’s nothing more Hollywood than Washington, DC, these days.

Watching them, I couldn’t help thinking that all of us pipers and drummers have been there: sitting around in the freezing cold awaiting our turn to play. (Sometimes this happens in August in Scotland.) Pipers harp on about keeping four reeds in tune, but I am sure that sustaining the intonation of four cat-gut strings or 88 pieces of piano wire is at least as challenging.

And then playing together and (roughly) in-tune before an audience of a gazillion or so. Terrific.

I have a lot of time for Ireland (before the Euro, anyway) and other countries that put their greatest artists, and not always their politicians, on their bank notes. I like that the inauguration included great music and poetry. It bodes well for people like us.


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