Well I’m a little “overwhelmed”* by it, but on Monday my choral work “The New Colossus” is going to be performed at the Worship service for the President’s Inauguration. Yes, he will be there. Yes, his cabinet, congressmen, heads of state, et al will be there. No, I will not be there…(the guest list comes straight from the White House, and I’m not a regular there at this point. I am, however, a regular here –but between getting official word from the Inaugural committee and trying to get security clearance, there was no time, anyway, to even try.) Ben Hutto selected the piece to be sung as the Introit before the liturgy of the service at St. John’s Lafayette Square. It’ll all go down right after the President is seated at the church on Monday morning, and I am just honored beyond words.
I realize that not a lot of composers get to have their pieces performed for the POTUS and his closest few hundred friends. I think it was probably the right piece at the right time and place. I wrote it ten years ago for one of Judy Clurman’s choirs as a commemorative work for 9/11, which had just happened the year before. Judy suggested to set the words from the Statue of Liberty, written by Emma Lazarus, a Jewish immigrant living in New York in the late 19th Century. Have you ever read the words to the whole poem? They are staggeringly beautiful and inclusive, inviting in everyone to the USA, no matter how tired, poor, and wretched they are—everyone. Given the role the Statue has played in our history and the role of Ellis Island in immigration, it’s no wonder they chose the poem for that landmark.
You can listen to the piece right here on my website, but Judy recorded it so beautifully for Sono Luminus with her Essential Voices USA chorus, that it would be great if you ordered the CD! Hal Leonard/GC Schirmer will publish the piece in March.
And I got the program from Ben when I saw him a week later. That’s one I’ll be framing…
* totally freaked out