John Williams, who has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other person as well as written an olympic theme has been tagged for providing new music for the inauguration of Barack Obama today, “Air and Simple Gifts,” a four and a half minute piece for classical quartet. Clarinetist Anthony McGill, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Gabriela Montero comprise the illustrious group to perform the new piece. Mr Ma and Mr Perlman chose the ensemble.
The instrumentation is the same as Messiaen's “Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps” (“Quartet for the End of Time”) but is similar to Copeland in style. “We wanted something that could reference America, the president-elect’s fondness for Copland, something that’s both uplifting and solemn, that traverses time but is also quintessentially American,” Mr. Ma said. Mr Williams reportedly created a hymn-like piece which will interpolate the ‘Simple Gifts’ melody from Copland’s 1944 ballet ‘Appalachian Spring’ in its mid-section.