The heating up of the political season is bringing back memories of a musical experience I will never forget. It was January of 1993. Bill Clinton had just been elected as President, and a huge concert-event was being put together to welcome the new commander-in-chief to Washington. A full symphony orchestra was assembled using wind and string players from all the branches of the military. Quincy Jones produced the extravaganza. Ray Charles performed with us, Kenny G., Dianna Ross, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Dylan, Whoopie Goldberg, Kathleen Battle, – oh, and Michael Jackson was the special surprise guest – who simply didn’t have to rehearse, and who’s limo was stuck in traffic, so it held up the whole show until his weirdness could make it to the stage. There they were – Bubba & Jacko together – both soon to have sexual abuse charges aimed at them.
The most unforgettable part of this event was not who it was for, or who performed, but where and when; It was January… and it was outdoors – on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The temperatures never rose into the 30s, and the wind next to the Potomac River whirled around us constantly. Rehearsals ran for several days prior to the actual concert – all day long. I held in my gloved hand a $5,000 Loree English horn. Thank goodness, it belonged to my Uncle Sam. There were no provisions for heating afforded us. We simply sat, huddled together until it was time to try to play the next number. Tens of Millions of Americans proudly watched the event on HBO from the warmth of their living room sofas.
Without a doubt – the worst musical job I have ever played!