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Mind

Gabriela Montero

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollDecember 18, 2008 7:43 AM

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The bad news is that Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, will be giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration. A terrible choice; reaching out to evangelicals is fine, but honoring bigoted homophobes is a bad strategy. The good news is that pianist Gabriela Montero will be performing at the inauguration! (Along with some other jokers: Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Anthony McGill.) Hopefully this prestigious venue will bring an incredibly talented performer to much-deserved wider recognition. If you tend not to click on YouTube clips of musicians, you might want to make an exception this time. Here is Montero at a concert in Germany. She asks the audience to suggest a German song for her -- "Mer losse de Dom in Kölle," if commenters are to be believed -- and gets them to sing it. She catches the tune (which apparently she's never heard before), and starts improvising based on it. (There's not nearly enough improvisation in modern classical music, in my jazz-inflected opinion.) It's a throwaway, but quite joyous and beautiful. And most of all, fun.

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