LRU News

Lenoir-Rhyne Alum appears in Oscar Nominated Movie “Lincoln”

Mon Feb 11 2013

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University is proud to have an alum make an appearance in the critically acclaimed and multi-Oscar nominated film, “Lincoln,” which stars Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis and is directed by Steven Spielberg.   Dr. Reese Land is a 1994 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music.

As a music major at Lenoir-Rhyne, Land concentrated in the trumpet.  One of his professors at Lenoir-Rhyne was Dr. Daniel W. Kiser who still teaches music on the campus.  Kiser recounts that, “Reese was a very serious and self-motivated trumpeter.  His focus and constant practice distinguished him from the average music student.”

Land appears within the first 15 minutes of the film during a flag-raising scene. Land, who is a trumpeter, can be seen to the left of Lincoln, among the crowd containing approximately 200 people. He is in a red Civil War-style uniform playing an over-the-shoulder baritone. Land used an original instrument that dates back to 1865.  He was to remain silent about the production, shot in December 2011, until the premiere. Under a strict contract, Land was unable to tell anyone about his performance or disclose any information about the film until its release.

Land described the set as “chaotic at best.” “Hairdressers, camera men, all of these people were running around. When you have 200 people on set, it gets crazy,” he said.

Today Land is an associate professor of music/trumpet in Campbellsville University’s School of Music in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Land has been playing the trumpet for more than 30 years. He is a member of many ensembles in the region including the President Lincoln’s Own Band, under the direction of Don Johnson. Johnson is involved with the National Association for Civil War Brass Music, which landed the group the role.

The band in the movie play the song “We Are Coming, Father Abram” on their instruments then sing the song once the flag has been raised.  Land said learning the vocals were more difficult than performing the piece on baritone to the poetic language in the song. “I sang some in college, but trumpet is my main thing. We can all sing, so it wasn’t a big deal,” he said.

Land said that even though he wasn’t nervous, performing in front of Spielberg for the first time was surreal. “He really liked what he heard,” Land said. “We were in our costumes, and he really liked the authenticity of it all.”

Land traveled to Petersburg, Va., in December 2011, where the scene was shot. The scene was the final shot needed to complete the film. The flag-raising scene took three hours to shoot with 13 takes. “It was really cold that morning, and we were all freezing to death,” Land said. “It got kind of tiring, but you have to stay focused, which we all did.”

Land and the other members of the band got to meet and be photographed with Sally Field, who plays Mary Todd Lincoln in the film. They did not, however, get to meet Day-Lewis, who stayed secluded from everyone when he wasn’t needed on set.  “He’s a method actor, which means he stayed in character the entire time it was filmed. It was cool to see him acting like Lincoln all the time.”

“It’s a great movie, and not just because I’m in it,” Land said. “Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is incredible, and the movie is very emotional and touching. You wouldn’t think a film featuring lawmaking would have that much emotion behind it.”

President Lincoln’s Own Band was also featured at the 149th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Penn., on Nov. 19, 2012 when Land and other members of the band performed during the ceremony, which featured Spielberg.

In addition to his Bachelor’s Degree from Lenoir-Rhyne, Land is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where he earned his master’s in music. He earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in trumpet performance. This is his sixth year at Campbellsville University.

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