Lizzo Played a 200-Year-Old Crystal Flute During a Concert, Revealing the Sounds of History

American singer and rapper Lizzo gave an unforgettable performance on September 26, 2022. However, it was not her iconic hits or dance moves that stole the show. Lizzo partnered with the Library of Congress to give a rare performance of President James Madison's crystal flute that hasn't been heard in 200 years.

While Lizzo is famous for her Grammy-winning album and electric concerts, she began her musical career as a classically trained flutist. The librarian of Congress Carla Hayden reached out to Lizzo on Twitter and offered the pop star a chance to check out their collection of 1,800 flutes, which is the largest in the world. Lizzo, of course, jumped at the opportunity, specifically requesting to play the crystal flute belonging to James Madison.

The exquisite instrument was made in 1813 by Claude Laurent, a clockmaker from Paris, and presented to James Madison at his second inauguration as president. Today, only 185 flutes by Laurent still exist, including only two crystal flutes—one of which is kept by the Library of Congress. In preparation for the special occasion, Lizzo visited the Library on Monday and practiced playing the stunning piece. Then, the instrument was brought out again during her concert, supervised by Library curator Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford and a security officer.

Lizzo, dressed in a gold sequined bodysuit, grasped the crystal flute and brought it to the mic. “It's crystal, so it's like playing out of a wine glass. So be patient,” she said after accepting the delicate object. Once she found a comfortable position, she began playing a few delicate notes, which made the crowd roar with excitement. As she held a trilling sound, she also accompanied the music by twerking, always making sure she kept the artifact secure in her hands. Then, out of caution, she brought the flute back to the Ward-Bamford and ran back to the mic to address the crowd again. “We just made history tonight! Thank you to the Library of Congress for preserving our history and making history freaking cool.”

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden reached out to Lizzo on Twitter when she heard the pop star was performing in Washington, D.C., inviting her to see the flute collection.

As a classically trained flutist, the Grammy winner enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

Lizzo met with staff at the Library of Congress and practiced playing President James Madison's 200-year-old crystal flute.

She later played it to a roaring crowd in D.C.:

Lizzo: Kimo | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [Neatorama, Hyperallergic]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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