They hail originally from all corners of the U.S., but on this date they are the pride of a hometown university whose global appeal has spread its wings far and wide, and well beyond the imagination of any who are native to the same community.
Obviously, we speak of Lee University and the inspiring voices of some of its finest young musicians who will travel by bus to lay a lyrical welcome mat for President Barack Obama on Jan. 21, the day of the U.S. leader’s second inauguration.
These voices are many, yet on the upper west terrace of the U.S. Capitol they will sing as the voice of one. They will perform as students of Lee University, as ambassadors of Cleveland, Tenn., as citizens of the United States of America and all that her Constitution and flag embrace, and as humanitarians who still believe in the innate goodness of all mankind.
They are the Voices of Lee.
They are the Lee Chorale.
They are the Ladies of Lee.
They are the Lee Singers.
They are the Campus Choir.
They are the Evangelistic Singers.
They are the Choral Union.
On a day which also celebrates the life and work of one of history’s greatest humanitarians — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — they will sing to the heavens as the 200-member Festival Choir.
Slightly more than two months ago U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander traveled to Cleveland to issue to Lee University the invitation to come to Washington on behalf of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Admittedly, when it comes to Lee University and the world class School of Music that Dr. Paul Conn has developed, we lose all objectivity. To know that our kids at Lee — whether their families reside in Cleveland or on a continent an ocean away — is a source of pride, one that glows with every mention of this latest milestone.
Lee’s Festival Choir, which is a merger of the school’s finest singers and groups, has come together for previous engagements, but never for an event so heralded as the inauguration of a U.S. president. Past performances have been quick and sometimes a little segmented, as would be expected for such a musical assembly of its magnitude.
But this time it’s ... well, let’s just say this time it’s worth all the marbles.
Dr. William Green, dean of Lee’s School of Music, will lead the combined choir. He wasted little time getting his young vocalists prepared. Shortly after the students’ return from Christmas break, they began long practices. Some were tiring. Some were trying. And some were terrific.
We believe it is the latter that the Festival Choir will take to President Obama’s inaugural ceremonies.
Long known for its quality of music instruction, Lee University has entrusted the leadership of its flagship curricula to a man who understands the definition, and the power, of good music.
In an interview with Managing Editor David Davis, Green told us music is more than voices that comfort, words that move or techniques that inspire. Music is emotion. And when singers emotionally connect, their listeners will rise to unparalleled heights.
Assuredly, Lee’s miracle-makers of harmony will bring a world to its knees and an air of hope to the heavens above.
Yet, it won’t be extraordinary.
It’s just what Lee University musicians do.
That which defines Monday’s performance won’t be quality of music, but the size of audience. The beauty once reserved predominately for Cleveland ears will become the world’s to hear.
We congratulate President Obama on his special day.
May he find love and a true American spirit in this precious gift from a blessed town and a proud university in Southeast Tennessee.