Air and Simple Gifts, the classical work composed to celebrate the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States, has been released by Sony Masterworks exclusively via the iTunes Store. The work, written especially for the talents of cellist Yo-Yo Ma , violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill by the American composer John Williams, was first heard at noon on January 20, 2009, by millions of people around the globe, as Barack Obama officially became President.
Air and Simple Gifts is the first classical quartet to be played at a Presidential inauguration. Williams based the piece on the familiar nineteenth-century Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” by Joseph Brackett. The source piece is famous for its appearance in Aaron Copland’s score for the ballet Appalachian Spring. Williams chose the selection knowing that Copland is one of President Obama's favorite classical composers.
“We are thrilled to be able to make this historic piece of music available to the public as a special memento of the inauguration,” commented Alex Miller, General Manager of Sony Masterworks and the Victor label. “The public’s response to Air and Simple Gifts was as immediate and dramatic as the occasion itself, and captured the optimism and hope of the nation at a pivotal moment in America’s history.”
“I was deeply honored to be invited to participate in the Presidential inauguration with Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero,” Yo-Yo Ma stated. “I am thrilled that this composition by John Williams, which so beautifully expressed the magnitude and emotion of the occasion, can continue to inspire people everywhere."
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