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Curtis Part of Inauguration Day Ceremonies

Choral work by Curtis Composition Faculty Member David Ludwig Performed at Presidential Worship Service Preceding January 21 Inauguration

The New Colossus based on Emma Lazarus poem at the Statue of Liberty

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(January 21, 2013) The New Colossus, a choral work by Curtis Institute of Music composition faculty member David Ludwig, was performed at the morning worship service preceding the Presidential Inauguration on Monday, January 21. A setting of Emma Lazarus's poem that appears on the Statue of Liberty, The New Colossus was sung by the St. John's Choir led by Ben Hutto as the Introit before the liturgy. The first event of the Inauguration day, the performance took place immediately after the President and his cabinet were seated at 8:42 a.m.

A private event for President Obama, Vice President Biden, their families, the cabinet, and other dignitaries, the morning worship service took place at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House. A procession to the Capitol for the inaugural ceremony followed the service.

The New Colossus was commissioned by Judith Clurman and the TODI Music Festival Choir and premiered in 2002. Writing about the piece, Dr. Ludwig said "I was very moved by the sentiment of welcome that Lazarus—herself an immigrant—conveys in the message: 'give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...' This to me was the true spirit of the United States embodied in poetry: our strength in diversity and tolerance. I wrote the work soon after 9/11, and because of that, the words of the poet were particularly poignant to me."

Judith Clurman recorded the work with Essential Voices USA for Celebrating the American Spirit, released on the Solo Lumnius label. Hal Leonard/G. Schirmer will publish the piece in March; the score is currently available on

The Curtis Institute of Music also played a role in President Obama's first inauguration in 2009. Curtis alumnus Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera, performed Air and Simple Gifts by John Williams with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration ceremony.

David Ludwig holds the Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Chair of Performance Studies and is artistic director of the 20/21 ensemble in addition to serving on the Curtis composition faculty. His music has been described as "arresting, dramatically hued..." (New York Times), "supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion" (Fanfare) and that it "promises to speak for the sorrows of this generation," (Philadelphia Inquirer). NPR Music listed him as one of the Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the world in 2011.

Commissions for prominent artists and ensembles include soloists Jonathan Biss, Jaime Laredo, and Jennifer Koh; ensembles like eighth blackbird and ECCO; and orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and National Symphony. Along with numerous awards and honors, he has held residencies with the Marlboro Music School, Isabella Gardner Museum, and MacDowell and Yaddo artist colonies, among others. Dr. Ludwig directs composition programs at the Atlantic and Lake Champlain festivals and is guest faculty at Yellow Barn.

Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he comes from a musical family going back many generations; his grandfather was the pianist Rudolf Serkin and great-grandfather the violinist Adolf Busch. He holds degrees from Oberlin, the Manhattan School of Music, Curtis and Juilliard, as well as a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 165 students with full-tuition scholarships and personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. The school's distinctive "learn by doing" approach has produced an impressive number of notable artists since its founding in 1924; Curtis alumni hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra, and each season they are featured as guest soloists with the world's leading orchestras, opera houses, and chamber music series.

Curtis's innovative programs encourage students to perform often and hone 21st-century musical skills, and the school's facilities offer superb spaces for music-making as well as state-of-the-art technologies to enhance learning. Students perform internationally with Curtis On Tour in addition to more than 150 performances in and around Philadelphia each year. When they graduate, they become musical leaders, making a profound impact on music around the globe.


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