Jennifer Lopez’s Performance at President Biden’s Inauguration Orchestrated by Berklee Alum
Singapore-born arranger, composer, and producer Lenny Wee B.M. ’08 played a key role in the musical portion of President Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., this week. As musical director for Jennifer Lopez, he orchestrated the pop star’s dazzling medley of “This Land Is Your Land,” “America the Beautiful,” and her own 1999 hit “Let’s Get Loud.”
Wee, who’s been based in Los Angeles since graduating from Berklee, said the most difficult aspect of the production was setting the right tone. “Jennifer didn’t want to make this performance about her—this is a presidential inauguration, not a J.Lo concert,” he said. “So it was a balancing act with the arrangement and orchestration. I think we came up with something that had gravitas but was also introspective and poignant for Jennifer to deliver.”
It was special to me because I’m an immigrant from Singapore and Jennifer’s performance did have some elements of celebrating our cultural differences and representing that immigrants can be a large part of our social fabric.
Lenny Wee B.M. ’08
Another challenge was the pandemic itself. Since Wee couldn’t host live sessions in L.A., he had the musicians record their parts individually at home. He then compiled and balanced the tracks before sending them to his mix engineer, fellow Berklee alumnus Justin Moshkevich B.M. '07. “I did end up adding the ‘President’s Own’ United States Marine Band to my arrangement when I got to D.C., so that was a fun experience,” he said.
“It was special to me because I’m an immigrant from Singapore and Jennifer’s performance did have some elements of celebrating our cultural differences and representing that immigrants can be a large part of our social fabric,” he said. “I was proud to be asked and to represent the Asian community.”
In addition to Lopez, who he’s worked with since 2013, Wee has arranged or produced music for Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson ’09H, Céline Dion, Gladys Knight, Whitney Houston, and Kanye West, among many others. He’s also worked on major television shows and broadcasts, including the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards, the Primetime Emmy Awards, and American Idol.
At Berklee, Wee double majored in music production and engineering and contemporary music and production, graduating in less than three years. “I thought I was going to have to choose between being an engineer and being an arranger before I started working, because I didn't think there were jobs that required both sets of skills,” Wee said in a 2010 interview, “but Berklee really prepared me for juggling the two sides of it, the technical and the creative.”