South Asian Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn Nivanthi Karunaratne has been invited to represent the orchestra in the Hope & Harmony Ensemble, formed by industry-leading concert tour company Classical Movements in honor of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Led by world-renowned conductor Marin Alsop, the 14 musicians represent the Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Peabody Institute, South Asian Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and Utah Symphony.
At a time when the orchestra world has been virtually silenced by the pandemic, Classical Movements has made a deliberate effort to bring together orchestras from every part of the United States and to reflect the diversity of the country. Half of the performing musicians are women and 6 are musicians of color.
The performance features two masterpieces of American classical music that perfectly represent our President- and Vice President-Elect:
Aaron Copland’s iconic “Fanfare for the Common Man” to celebrate the American people and in honor of Joe Biden; and
Joan Tower’s dynamic “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” for Kamala Harris, our remarkable and “uncommon” first woman Vice President.
An Unprecedented Show of Unity within the Orchestra Industry
The virtual “Fanfare for Joe and Kamala” will be streamed on social media on Tuesday, January 19 at 12pm US-Eastern. In an extraordinary demonstration of cooperation between our nation’s top orchestras, this performance will be livestreamed simultaneously by Classical Movements, all 14 orchestras and other partners, with a combined digital footprint of over 7.6 million and growing.
In addition to footage of each musician, recorded in their homes and on site across the country, the presentation incorporates photographs and video illustrating “America the Beautiful” and the context of the struggle for civil rights and equality for women in the United States. Classical Movements has partnered with video and sound engineers Arts Laureate to produce these videos.
The Hope & Harmony Ensemble is conceived, produced, and directed by Classical Movements. In the middle of a pandemic that has so seriously disrupted the classical music industry, we have transformed the necessity of virtual performance into an opportunity to bring together this diverse and representative group of musicians from all over the country in a way that would not have been possible under other circumstances. After 28 years working closely with the nation’s finest orchestras, Classical Movements is uniquely placed to bring together these incredible musicians and gratified by the enthusiastic response from participants and partners.
A Fanfare for Our Times, 12 Years in the Making
Classical Movements Founder and President Neeta Helms first envisioned an inauguration tribute to honor the first female president during the Democratic primaries in 2008, approaching Marin Alsop before having to set the idea aside. After reviving the idea in 2016 for Hillary Clinton’s potential inauguration, it is only now that the opportunity arrives - assuming additional significance in this historical and cultural moment.
Says Neeta, “I am elated to be able to finally celebrate our first female Vice President. I am deeply inspired by Kamala Harris – and as an Indian-born American, I feel particular personal pride that her mother was Indian and in her archetypically American background,” notes Neeta Helms. “In this time of difficulty and hardship, it is also fitting that we celebrate Joe Biden, an example to us all for his ideals of decency and hope and his perseverance in the face of hardship and tragedy. Filling a unique and vital role in the music industry that has been hit so hard by the pandemic, it was essential to us to create an ensemble that represented and celebrated our nation’s diversity, featuring women and men equally.”
Marin Alsop adds, “It’s a privilege to pay tribute to this new leadership team and celebrate this historic moment in America!”
Nirupama Rao, co-founder and trustee of the South Asian Symphony Orchestra, says “The South Asian Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to be a part of this truly inspirational musical offering on the occasion of the Presidential Inauguration. We are happy that Nivanthi Karunaratne who is a wonderful exemplar of our mission to promote peace and the understanding that bridges divisions , is a participant. It is indeed a true privilege to give voice, through this "Fanfare for Joe and Kamala", to our belief that music fosters love, forgiveness and compassion and that it touches the core of human existence."
Nivanthi Karunaratne comments, “I performed for then-Vice President Biden in 2015 and remember being struck by how warmly he treated the musicians; he mentioned the many personal tragedies he’s faced, and thanked us, saying “our favorite music gets us through those times.” It is an honor to be part of the Fanfares celebrating his Presidential Inauguration. As an American woman of Lankan descent, I also find it so exciting to have Kamala Harris, who shares South Asian heritage, as our new Vice President. The world is undergoing a reckoning; more and more, we rightfully acknowledge and uplift the contributions of BIPOC individuals and women. The same is true of Classical music. This exhilarating project---featuring music by Joan Tower---reflects and celebrates that hard-won yet joyful progress.”
Two Triumphs of American Music
Aaron Copland is perhaps one of the most iconic of American classical composers, and his work, in the words of conductor Leon Botstein, “helped define the modern consciousness of America's ideals, character and sense of place.” Born to Lithuanian Jewish parents in Brooklyn in 1900, Copland’s compositions remain some of the most famous to ever emerge from the American classical music movement, and “Fanfare for the Common Man” is one of the most recognizable orchestral pieces of all time.
GRAMMY Award-winning American composer Joan Tower is consistently acclaimed as one of the most successful composers of her generation. Currently the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, Joan Tower is notable for her bold and energetic compositions, shaped by her childhood and adolescence living in South America. Her “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” series, one of her most famous works, is dedicated to “women who are adventurous and take risks.” The first work in the series, featured on this program, was premiered in 1987 and is dedicated to Marin Alsop.
Marin Alsop is undoubtedly the most famous and lauded female orchestral conductor in the world. She is currently the Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony and chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony. She was a protégé of Leonard Bernstein and was the first woman conductor of a major American orchestra. Her many accolades include conducting the Last Night of the Proms, and she was the recipient of a 2010 GRAMMY Award.
Since founding Classical Movements in 1992, Neeta Helms has pioneered a model of concert touring for orchestras and choirs that emphasizes cultural exchange with local communities in 145 countries, with particular focus on frequently overlooked destinations. Under her leadership, Classical Movements has been the driving force behind ground-breaking projects. For her vision and commitment to transformative projects, she has been awarded the 2014 BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America award, named one of Musical America’s 2017 Movers & Shapers and received the 2019 ArtsMatter Award from the New Orchestra of Washington.
The South Asian Symphony Foundation
The aim of the South Asian Symphony Foundation (SASF) is to promote greater cultural integration for the cause of peace in our region of South Asia, through the medium of music and the creation of a South Asian Symphony Orchestra. The inspiration has come from Ambassador Nirupama Menon Rao’s years in diplomacy and what she saw as a felt need for providing a platform to promote more dialogue, cultural synergy and friendly understanding among the youth of the eight countries in South Asia, including India.
The Foundation will hold music workshops, master classes, lectures and training in orchestral music for young musicians by internationally renowned master teachers of orchestral music. The aim is to foster artistic talent and creativity among these young musicians of promise. We will organize performances of the South Asian Symphony Orchestra in various cities of India and South Asia, as also the rest of the world. In due course, we will enable the development of orchestral repertoire, including classical and indigenous music from South Asia.
About Classical Movements
The premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, Classical Movements creates meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries. An industry leader for over a quarter-century, Classical Movements organizes more than 60 tours every year, producing some 200 concerts every season. Producer of two international choral festivals— Ihlombe! in South Africa and Serenade! in Washington, D.C.—and the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival, in addition, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned 97 works from Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. Winner of Americans for the Arts’ BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts Award, since its founding in 1992, as a truly global company, Classical Movements remains committed to facilitating cultural diplomacy across the world—promoting peace through the medium of music. During Covid-19, Classical Movements has continued to lead the way with innovative projects representing a pivot towards domestic touring and international tours for individuals and small groups, as well as presenting the first live chamber concerts in the United States since the pandemic.