Biden Invites Irish Violinist to Play for Inauguration Day Morning Mass

January 21, 2021, 10:28 PM · Music makes the magic when it comes to setting the tone for a major event, milestone or celebration.

So it's significant that violin music was what Joe Biden wished to hear as he attended morning mass on Wednesday, the day he would be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. In fact, he personally invited Irish violinist Patricia Treacy to play for the occasion.

Here she plays Patrick Cassidy's "The Proclamation" on a c. 1700 Omobono Stradivari violin, provided especially for this occasion by Joe Bein at Bein & Company Rare Violins:

The video above, filmed last weekend at Chicago's Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church, was made to be broadcast at the mass in the event that Treacy would not be permitted to play live in D.C. due to security concerns. But in the end, she actually did perform Wednesday morning at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., in a mass service attended by Biden, his family, and high-ranking members of Congress.

In addition to "The Proclamation," she also played "Ag Críost an Síol," and she joined Renée Fleming for the Catholic favorite "On Eagle’s Wings," as well as Schubert’s "Ave Maria" and the Celtic Alleluia. Treacy has played for Biden on a number of occasions, one being in 2016 when he visited his ancestral home in County Louth, Ireland, where she is a citizen.

The violin that Treacy played for this special event merits some attention - it was made by Antonio Stradivari's younger son, Omobono and is currently valued at about $4 million. It's also known as the "Blagrove" Omobono Strad, having belonged to a musical family with the last name Blagrove, and more recently it belonged to violinist Jesse Ceci for almost 50 years. (Ceci was the concertmaster of the Denver Symphony, now the Colorado Symphony, for 20 years, and I remember him well from the many DSO concerts I saw as a child in Denver.) The fiddle happens to be for sale by Bein & Company Rare Violins, the shop recently established by Joe Bein, son of the late Robert Bein, co-founder of Bein and Fushi.

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January 22, 2021 at 09:57 PM · Laurie, many thanks for reporting on this unique violinistic event. I, along with countless others, watched Joe Biden's Inauguration on television in real time. Your report helps to flesh him out, as good journalism does; as well as giving Patricia Treacy useful publicity.

January 23, 2021 at 03:08 PM · An innocent and genuine question:

Why, during major performances (with the possible exception of church performances), do female soloists tend to show a lot more skin than male soloists? Have they succumbed to sexism, and a double standard, or is there some other explanation?

January 23, 2021 at 05:00 PM · David, This is an expression of the modern emphasis on sexuality. There is no double standard really. Men are not expected to show off their sexuality in public as women are because of the two different sex roles.

Look at the change in wedding dresses. Some now are very revealing, strapless and sleeveless. This would have been considered scandalous even within my lifetime.

January 23, 2021 at 05:23 PM · David, I have noticed this and wondered too.

Strapless evening dresses have been around for a long time. (Think of the gorgeous creations in old B&W movies.)So if men wear suits to perform, women wear evening gowns as the equivalent standard of dress.

I suspect Ann is correct as to the reasons.

Has the fashion trend for female soloists mirrored the bridal wear trend? What did they wear 100 years ago?

I imagine strapless gowns give much more freedom of arm movement.

January 24, 2021 at 05:01 PM · Ann wrote:

"David, This is an expression of the modern emphasis on sexuality. There is no double standard really. Men are not expected to show off their sexuality in public as women are because of the two different sex roles."


Ann, isn't that a double standard? Who expects that: Men or women? What would happen if a woman didn't display sexuality via clothing choices? Would she be shunned, or be unable to find a partner?

January 24, 2021 at 07:22 PM · I would not say there is a double standard because I believe that men and women are different. Women who do not display their sexuality are generally treated badly (mostly by women), I have observed. Men tend to not care as much about appearances, I have noticed. Excessive emphasis on appearances is often equated with shallowness as expressed by "judging a book by its cover." Things have changed mightily in this regard in the last 50 year, fueled by TV and now internet with their power to change public tastes.

Surely you must have noticed this. Unless you are arguing for its own sake. I'll stop now. Enough has been said.

January 24, 2021 at 09:35 PM · What a lovely article - it's great to hear about artists who the President is supporting, and including in events.

I wonder if the violin has sold since Wednesday! I wouldn't be surprised.

January 25, 2021 at 11:36 AM ·

Some of the things I was curious about: Is this style imposed by men, or managers or promoters? Do performers do it out of the perception that it has some relationship to success? Or is it done just because that's what the performers personally enjoy?

I've heard the cliche from women that "women dress up for each other", but didn't want to make the mistake of assuming that a cliche makes something true, or that it tells the whole story.

January 25, 2021 at 01:34 PM · David, I appreciate your caring about this. The issue is tied up in many things that are wrong about our culture that nobody seems to notice and you expressed your question in a very intelligent way. Thank you.

January 25, 2021 at 05:49 PM · I do admit that I find it frustrating when a discussion about a successful female artist immediately turns to what she is wearing rather than her playing and accomplishments. I do understand, though, that David is raising a question about "how we got there" and the evolution of formalwear, that is is one thing for men and another for women. It's worth a thoughtful discussion.

January 25, 2021 at 11:43 PM · Apologies for bringing up a tangent, which may have deviated from your original intent.

I have lived through times when some people claimed that men and women are exactly the same, and that any perceived differences were sourced upon bias and prejudice.

My personal situation is this: I grew up in a family where my mother was the mover and shaker, and made most of the important decisions. She got much better grades in college than my father, got a grad degree and a tenure track way before he did, and it was she who pushed him into enrolling and moving to Princeton (where I was born) to get his graduate degree. Neither of them ever wore fancy, semi-revealing, or expensive clothes.

So I am genuinely wondering how some of this stuff shakes out today, in the world outside my microcosm.

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