February 5, 2021

Capturing the Mood of a Presidential Moment: Peter Boyer’s ‘Fanfare for Tomorrow’

OPTIMISM AND GRAVITY: “As an American composer, I certainly felt the weight of this historic occasion" said composer Peter Boyer about a performance of his "Fanfare for Tomorrow" at the presidential inauguration ceremony. (photo credit: by Dario Acosta)

Hopeful, sober, triumphant, celebratory: Peter Boyer’s “Fanfare for Tomorrow” captures a multitude of moods—and served as fitting music for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.

Performed outside the nation’s Capitol, just weeks after an attempted insurrection took place there, the composition strikes a tone of healing and optimism that Boyer said the nation needs now.

“Music can be a great vessel for optimism,” said Boyer, who holds the university’s Helen M. Smith Chair in Music, “and in these days of such profound challenges for our country and the world, contributing music which conveys optimism and hope would seem to be a worthy role for a composer.”

Proud to play his part: Boyer announces his involvement on Twitter.

Commissioned specifically for the presidential inauguration, Boyer’s “Fanfare” served as one of the hallmarks of a one-hour musical prelude performed by the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band as guests arrived for the ceremony. The Marine Band is well familiar with Boyer’s work, having performed other works by the composer in recent years.

Boyer noted, proudly, that his “Fanfare” was performed at the very moment when the new president and vice president first arrived in front of the Capitol.

Boyer said it was the first time his music has ever been chosen for the highest ceremony of the U.S. government.

A Sense of Gravity

Boyer is not unfamiliar with achievements and high distinctions. A celebrated composer, he has had his work performed by acclaimed singers, actors (including Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman), and many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including the London Philharmonic.

Boyer has been celebrated with some of the nation’s highest honors as well: His “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” has been broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances and in 2019, that work led to his selection for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a distinction officially recognized by Congress.

And yet, despite his many honors, Boyer said the selection of his work for the Biden-Harris inauguration ceremony struck him with a deep sense of pride and humility. He said it is one of the great honors of his career—and that he was keenly aware of the moment’s significance and gravity.

“As an American composer, I certainly felt the weight of this historic occasion,” he said. “Seeing Biden and Harris’s arrivals at the Capitol while hearing my newly composed music being performed was quite a surreal moment.”

A Varied Musical Career

“Fanfare for Tomorrow” began as a brief piece for solo French horn, originally commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra last year, as part of their “Fanfare Project” in response to the pandemic. Boyer significantly expanded and developed that music for a full concert band for this commission.

A professor of music at CGU since 1996, Boyer is also widely active in the film and television music industry. He has contributed orchestrations to some 35 feature film scores as well as composing scores for The History Channel and arranging music for Academy Awards telecasts. His music also has appeared in short films, documentary films, and various television programs.