Say It Ain't So, Yo-Yo

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

CLASSICAL MUSIC greats Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues won plaudits and admiration on Inauguration Day for braving the frigid weather to perform a piece called "Air and Simple Gifts," by John Williams. Yet it turns out they weren't so brave. Rather than risk imperfection, as Aretha Franklin was willing to do, or having to cope with a broken string, they pre-recorded the music and just played along on Tuesday. It was a show, but it wasn't a genuine performance.

"It's not something we would announce, but it's not something we would try to hide," an inaugural spokeswoman told the New York Times. Oh, please. The intent obviously was to have the audience, on the Mall and on television, believe that they were hearing the masters, live. Somehow they thought we could not accept the possibility of error -- the possibility that great musicians, playing in what Mr. Ma called "wicked cold," might prove that they are human. So instead, we are left with yet another case of fakery in a world where the line between real and artificial already is far too easy to blur. Next time, we'll have to wonder if the president is lip-syncing the oath.

Though, come to think of it, that's something the chief justice might want to consider.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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