Ramsey Lewis to compose work on Lincoln

June 20, 2008 7:00:15 PM PDT
Add a musical composition to all the tributes at next year's 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Ramsey Lewis has been commissioned to compose a new work inspired by Lincoln's life. It's being commissioned by the Ravinia Festival, a musical festival north of Chicago. Ravinia has already asked choreographer Bill T. Jones to create a dance theater work as part of the seasonlong celebration of Lincoln.

In announcing the jazz pianist's new untitled work, Ravinia said it will present programs focusing on Lincoln's life and musicians of his day.

The 73-year-old Lewis, Ravinia's artistic director for jazz, said he was pleased that the Lincoln celebration will feature the works of two black people - Jones and himself.

"I think it's extraordinary that in this year when an African-American has a viable shot at the White House that Ravinia would bookend its Lincoln celebration with the works from the black perspective," he said in a statement.

Lewis also said it is appropriate that Lincoln's story should be told through the "purely American music" of jazz.