Music instructor sings at White House
Lansford, Qualls perform Irish tunes for St. Patrick's Day
|Julia Lansford brought back a book about the White House, a St. Patrick's
Day reception program and many memories from her trip to Washington D.C.
during Spring Break.
Lansford reached another milestone in her singing career, performing at the White House on St. Patrick's Day.
"We felt very good about our performance," Lansford, associate professor of music, said.
She performed traditional Irish music with Pat Qualls, a graduate of Arkansas State University, accompanying on the harp.
Qualls, who graduated in 1964 with a bachelor's degree, said she and Lansford have been performing together since 1990.
Qualls said it was exciting that the Irish music they performed at the White House was the same program they performed at their first joint recital.
In addition to the duet, the guests enjoyed bagpipe performances, an Irish dance team and an Irish singer.
Qualls said the bagpipe players announced the president, and then she and Lansford played outside the room in which the president greeted guests.
"We did the program three times," she said. "That whole time the president was greeting people."
Lansford said even with all the time the president took meeting the guests, he still took time to listen to their performance for a few minutes.
"We enjoyed him applauding us when he came by," she said.
Lansford said the two were able to visit with the president and the prime minister of Ireland during one of their breaks.
She said the atmosphere of the White House was overwhelming.
Lansford said it did not matter what political party people were in, because the historical significance of the event outweighed the importance of party affiliation.
Lansford said she enjoyed the opportunity to visit different rooms in the White House, because it was her first time there.
Lansford said one of the highlights of the trip was when she saw a print Evan Lindquist, professor of art, gave President Bill Clinton when Clinton dedicated the Dean B. Ellis Library hanging in the White House.
"That was exciting to see a touch of ASU there on his wall in his music room," she said.
Lansford said Qualls was the reason the pair received the opportunity to perform.
She said Qualls wrote a letter to the social director and later sent a videotape of her and Lansford performing Irish music.
Lansford said it was a wonderful surprise when she discovered that White House staff had invited them to perform on St. Patrick's Day.
The experience was even better than they expected, she said.
Qualls said performing at the event was definitely an exciting experience.
"This is a high honor, a milestone in my life," she said. "It's something I've wanted to do since he became president."
Lansford said she has been lucky to receive several surprise opportunities during her singing career.
"It was fantastic, even more exciting than we anticipated," she said. "I've been very fortunate in life to have had things given to me or afforded to me that I really never expected.
Other highlights in her career have been a New York debut in an opera and being selected to sing at the Kennedy Center, Lansford said.
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