David Ludwig's The New Colossus will be performed by Ben Hutto and St. John's Choir during the worship service preceding Monday's Presidential Inauguration.
The piece was commissioned from Ludwig - a Curtis Institute of Music composer and artistic chair of the performance studies dept. - in 2002. But its text, from the Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statute of Liberty, is topical today. Ludwig writes: “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…’ And it is not just some people that the Statue welcomes, but everyone—even the ‘wretched refuse.’ This to me was the true spirit of the United States embodied in poetry: our strength in diversity and tolerance.”
The pre-Inauguration service is a private event for the president, vice president and members of the cabinet, at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
Ludwig's grandfather played at the White House twice - in 1966 and 1970. He himself was on the faculty of the Curtis Institute, and from 1968 to 1975 was director of the school. His name, in case you have not already guessed, was Rudolf Serkin.