Inauguration Day also a big moment for Eastman School of Music graduates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Inauguration Day on Wednesday was a big moment for the country, and it had it’s fair share of moments from musicians, and artists.

In addition to Rochester’s connection to President Biden’s suit, two prominent artists who spent time in Rochester studying at the Eastman School of Music had their moments to shine on Inauguration Day.

Renee Fleming, the Greece native and international opera super star (with 17 Grammy nominations in tow), sang for then-president-elect Biden before the official swearing in.

“It was an honor to sing at the private mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral this morning for President-Elect Biden, Vice President-Elect Harris, and congressional leaders from both parties,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

She sang Schubert’s setting “Ave Maria,” as well as “America the Beautiful.”

Fleming earned her master’s (’83) at Eastman, and would eventually receive an honorary doctorate as well.

Another Eastman graduate, Gene Scheer (‘81E, ‘82E (MM)) had one of his musical works “American Anthem,” quoted by the newly minted President of the United States.

Scheer works as a librettist, composer, and lyricist. He works on classical art songs, operas, and other projects.

I wrote American Anthem in the late 1990s. The piece has been performed by many wonderful artists including Denyce Graves, Nathan Gunn and Norah Jones,” Scheer wrote on his website. “Norah’s rendition is featured in Ken Burn’s PBS film about World War 2 entitled ‘The War.'”

Another group of Eastman graduates had their moment in the spotlight as well. Six members of “The President’s Own,” the US Marine Band, call Eastman their alma mater:

  • Clarinetist Master Sergeant William Bernier (’98)
  • Clarinetist Staff Sergeant Lucia Disano (2011)
  • Bassoonist Staff Sergeant Matthew Gregoire (2015)
  • Cornetist Master Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Harding (’96)
  • Saxophone player Staff Sergeant Rachel Perry of Otselic, N.Y. (MM 2013)
  • E-flat Clarinetist Master Sergeant Michelle Urzynicok (’94)
Master Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Harding

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