Music From Presidential Inauguration Released by Sony Masterworks Exclusively on iTunes

Yo-Yo Ma Joined by Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero & Anthony Mcgill in New Work - Air and Simple Gifts - Written Especially for Barack Obama's Inauguration by John Williams

Air and Simple Gifts Available February 11, 2009


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. The recording of Air and Simple Gifts is available to the public on February 11, 2009.

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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."

Yo-Yo Ma has been enjoying one of the most successful recordings of his illustrious 30-year career with Sony Masterworks. The release of Songs of Joy & Peace debuted at #1 on Billboard's Classical Overall and Classical Crossover Charts and reached #20 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, Ma's highest position ever. It also had the unusual distinction of selling more recordings in one week than any other in the history of his recording career.

Yo-Yo Ma is a world-renowned cellist, educator, and ambassador for the arts. His awards include the Avery Fisher Prize, the Glenn Gould Prize, and the National Medal of the Arts. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the United States Department of State in 2002, Yo-Yo Ma has met with, trained, and mentored thousands of students worldwide. In 2006, Secretary General Kofi Annan named him a U.N. Messenger of Peace, and in 2007 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon extended his appointment.

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