Bill Clinton turns 73 today. In honor of his birthday, today we look back at his 2003 appearance with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
Though he was known for his saxophone playing during the 1992 campaign and his days in the White House, his ASO appearance (much like the album for which he won a Grammy Award) did not involve him playing. Instead he provided narration to a symphonic work.
On March 25, 2003, former President Bill Clinton took the stage of Robinson Center Music Hall to perform with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Entitled “Let Freedom Ring – A Patriotic Celebration,” the evening was a joint fundraiser for the Symphony and the Clinton Foundation.
Before a packed house, Clinton narrated Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait which weaves excerpts from Lincoln speeches with Copland’s own unique classical take on American heartland music. Clinton also narrated Let Freedom Ring, a symphonic setting by Alexander Miller of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
The evening also consisted of Broadway veteran and Little Rock favorite Lawrence Hamilton singing “Wheels of a Dream” from the musical Ragtime. On Broadway and on national tour, Hamilton had previously sung the song.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra also performed An American in Paris by George Gershwin and “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst. This final selection was a tribute to the seven astronauts who had died in the crash of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003.
David Itkin, who was then the musical director of the ASO, conducted the concert.