“We do not yet know who will be inaugurated president in January,” Alexander said, “but we do know who will be singing that day: the Lee University choir.”
Nearly 2,000 students erupted in cheers when Alexander made the announcement Thursday morning during chapel in the Conn Center.
Lee University’s performance will occur immediately before the official swearing-in ceremonies at midday on Jan. 21, 2013. The chorus will perform outdoors on the upper west terrace of the United States Capitol.
Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn said 200 voices will be selected from among the seven choirs on campus. The seven directors will choose the voices and music. Dr. Bill Green will lead the a cappella choir.
“What you heard today was 100 voices selected from three of the choirs,” Conn said. “What you’ll get is 200 people selected from seven choirs.”
Green said performing at the inauguration was definitely his highest honor.
“It will be a highlight of my musical career and I am thrilled to be conducting this group at the Capitol and thrilled we get to let these students experience that,” he said. “It will be an amazing experience for all of us and we have pledged to the senator that we will bring stellar material. I’m looking forward to getting started on that.”
Sophomore Caroline Eaton, of Sugarland, Texas, said, “I think it’s great. It’s a huge honor for our school — it’s just a huge surprise right now, but it is a really big honor.”
In light of other national and international performances, she said, “I don’t know if there is such a thing as too much (exposure) at this point, because we really have an awesome school and people should know about it.”
State Rep. Kevin Brooks, who majored in history at Lee University joked that he was going to immediately begin voice lessons. But, seriously, he said, “There is really in my mind, no larger stage than the inauguration of the President of the United States of America. And, to have this Christian campus to be represented on that world stage, while the world is watching, what a huge honor. I’m proud to be a Lee alumnus and can’t wait to join them in Washington.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said, “I am always delighted when Sen. Alexander comes to Cleveland. He always has good news, but this is a tremendous day. Once again, it gives us national prominence that just continues as this great university continues to grow and shows the world the great talent and great students we have here.”
Alexander issued the invitation on behalf of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, of which he is the Vice Chair.
He said thousands of Americans will stand in the cold, millions of Americans will watch on TV, and many more millions of people around the world will watch the inauguration.
“Just hearing the music today just reminds me of how wise a recommendation it is for the inaugural committee that the Lee University choir perform, because I’d like for the whole world to hear what I heard this morning,” he said.
Conn said when the senator called to invite the choir, it was suggested he might need a day to think about it.
“I said, senator, I don’t need 24 hours. We accept your invitation and I guaranteed him either President Romney or President Obama would have a prelude that will be offered by wonderful college students who are so thrilled and privileged to be a part of this great pageant of American life,” Conn said.
Conn said Lee University is a patriotic campus. At the last presidential inauguration, classes were suspended so students could watch the ceremonies together on TV in large groups around campus.
“This is an added reason for us to watch this one,” he said.
This is not the first time Alexander has extended an invitation to Lee University students to participate in an inauguration. He invited Lynn Golden of Lee College, as the university was called at the time, to sing the national anthem when he was sworn-in as governor of Tennessee on January 20, 1979. The new governor had met and heard Lynn sing during his 1,000-mile campaign walk across Tennessee. He began in Maryville on Jan. 26 and ending in Memphis on July 6.
Lee University’s musical program is world-renowned. Its choral ensembles have toured extensively at home and abroad for 50 years, singing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the World’s Fair in New York City, the Kennedy Center, the White House and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.