The somber classical sounds that filled the Washington Mall ahead of Barack Obama's swearing-in came from a tape, reports the New York Times. When Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and the rest of the quartet realized that the freezing weather and strong winds would likely wreak havoc with their instruments they decided to play along to a recording they had made earlier.
Organizers stress that the intent was to avoid distracting slip-ups rather than fool people. The performers say using the tape was a last resort. "I really wanted to do something that was absolutely physically and emotionally genuine,” Yo-Yo Ma said. “We also knew we couldn’t have any technical or instrumental malfunction on that occasion. A broken string was not an option. It was wicked cold.”