Playing for the President: Michael Lynn and Marilyn McDonald to Perform at Inaugural Luncheon
Dec. 16, 2008
Marci Janas ’91
Professor of Violin Marilyn McDonald
Professor of Recorder and Baroque Flute
McDonald and Lynn, who is also Associate Dean of the Conservatory, were invited to bring their period instruments and join in the music making by Kenneth Slowik, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Chamber Music Society and Curator of the Division of Music at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian always provides the music for the inaugural luncheon, which is hosted by all of the members of the United States Senate, and Slowik, who is also Artistic Director of Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute (BPI), has performed and collaborated with ensembles for every inaugural luncheon since the first one held for Ronald Reagan in 1981.
McDonald has performed on one other occasion. “The best part,” she recalls, “was seeing all the former presidents together in one room.” As for Michael Lynn, the luncheon in honor of Obama’s inauguration is, well, his inaugural, too. “It would be exciting to perform at any inaugural event at the capital,” says Lynn, “but this one is really exciting because of the historical significance.”
Besides Slowik, McDonald, and Lynn, the other musicians are violinist Julie Andrijeski, a member of the BPI faculty; harpsichordist Jim Weaver, who has also taught at BPI; and percussionist Daniel Shores.
The Smithsonian advocates the use of historically correct instruments by the players for the program, which consists of music from Thomas Jefferson’s library. According to McDonald, Jefferson owned a fine collection of works by Handel and Haydn. Slowik says that the program will also include a variety of American music written for or played in front of presidents, for example, ”A Menuet Danced Before Mrs. Washington,” or ”General Washington's Triumphal Entry Into Trenton.” Some are anonymous; some are by such notable American composers as Alexander Reinagle and Philip Pfile.
Because so many representatives of the United States government attend the luncheon—the newly inaugurated President and Vice President, all of the members of the Senate, Supreme Court justices, and cabinet members—Slowik finds the experience “a lot of fun. No matter who is in office, it certainly shows all of the pomp and circumstance of our American democracy at work.”