Irish violinist Patricia Treacy to play for Joe Biden and family

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image copyrightCBOI/Ana Marie Meiu/AM Photostar
image captionPatricia Treacy is a former soloist with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland

An Irish violinist is looking forward to being a "part of history" when she plays for US President-elect Joe Biden and his family on his inauguration day.

Patricia Treacy, an award-winning musician from County Louth, has travelled to Washington DC at the invitation of the Biden family.

She met them on a number of occasions when Mr Biden was US vice-president.

She will perform for the Bidens at a private church service, shortly before they go to the inauguration ceremony.

"I will be playing at the inaugural Mass on Wednesday morning," she told BBC News NI.

"It's incredible to be here and be a part of history."

Her performance will include a rendition of The Proclamation by Irish composer Patrick Cassidy.

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It is the same piece of music she played in Dublin five years ago, as part of the state commemorations of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Ms Treacy is one of Ireland's leading concert violinists.

She made her debut as a soloist in New York's Carnegie Hall and is a former soloist with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland.

Wednesday's event is not the first time she has been invited to play for Mr Biden in the US.

Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTÉ last year, Ms Treacy explained how her connection with the Bidens has developed over the past five years.

Secret Service motorcade

She first met him in March 2016, when the then US vice-president hosted a St Patrick's Day celebration at his official residence and Ms Treacy was among the performers.

He spoke to her afterwards and ended up phoning her elderly mother back in Ireland for a chat, after Ms Treacy told him her mother had been her "inspiration" throughout her musical career.

image copyrightCBOI/Ana Marie Meiu/AM Photostar
image captionPatricia Treacy said she owes her musical talent to her mother

They met again later that year when Mr Biden made an official visit to Ireland as vice-president.

She played for him in Cooley peninsula in County Louth, as he toured the area where some of his Irish ancestors hailed from before emigrating to America.

Ms Treacy is from the nearby seaside village of Blackrock in Louth and after her performance, the Bidens invited her to a reception in a local pub.

"The Secret Service whisked me off in the motorcade to Lily Finnegan's bar where I got to spend time with the family," Ms Treacy told RTÉ.

"Then the vice-president came in again and said he wanted a photograph taken with his 'Irish violinist', and he got his niece to take the photograph.

"So just since then, I've been very friendly with the whole lot of them."

image copyrightUS Embassy in Ireland
image captionMr Biden, whose Finnegan ancestors hailed from Cooley, visited Lily Finnegan's pub in the area in 2016

In January 2017, Ms Treacy was invited to the White House to watch Mr Biden receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Then during the 2020 election campaign, she was asked to perform at a some of Mr Biden's US rallies.

Heavy security presence

Live music usually forms a huge part of the presidential inauguration ceremony, but this year's event has been scaled back significantly due to the pandemic and the recent riot at the US Capitol building.

Five people died after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on 6 January.

There is currently a heavy security presence in Washington DC, with thousands of National Guard reserve soldiers deployed to prevent any repeat of those violence scenes.

image copyrightEPA/JUSTIN LANE
image captionUS Capitol Police officers in riot gear walk through the grounds around the US Capitol on Tuesday

In contrast to the estimated two-million-strong crowd which witnessed Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2008, only about 1,000 tickets were allocated for Mr Biden's ceremony.

There will still be live performances however - Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez will also take to the stage.

But most of the music stars celebrating Mr Biden's victory will take part in a 90-minute TV special as an alternative to appearing before large crowds, due to coronavirus concerns.

The inauguration ceremony is due to begin at about 11:30 EST (16:30 GMT) on Wednesday and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are expected to be sworn in about half-an-hour later.

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