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Campbellsville University’s Reese Land performs in Spielberg movie ‘Lincoln’

Nov. 26, 2012
For Immediate Release

Dr. Reese Land, fourth from left, associate professor of music/trumpet at Campbellsville University, was in the new Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln.” He got to meet Spielberg at the 149th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address at Gettysburg, Penn. Nov. 19.
Dr. Reese Land, fourth from left, associate professor of music/trumpet at Campbellsville University, was in the new Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln.” He got to meet Spielberg at the 149th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address at Gettysburg, Penn. Nov. 19.


By Samantha Stevenson, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.— Imagine keeping a secret as big as being in a Steven Spielberg film to yourself for a year.

Dr. Reese Land, associate professor of music/trumpet in Campbellsville University’s School of Music, did just that. And he is now able to talk about his role in the newly released movie “Lincoln”” starring Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Steven Spielberg, who has been called one of America’s most popular and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

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, played by Day-Lewis, 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.

Land 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.

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. Land was one of three band members from Kentucky who appear in the film.

Other Kentuckians include Michael Tunnell of Louisville and Wayne Collier of Lexington. Land had Tunnell as a professor at the University of Louisville, where he completed his graduate studies.

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 was 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.

Renowned composer John Williams, who has won numerous Grammy and Academy Awards and Golden Globes and is best known for composing music in the Star Wars and Harry Potter films, also arranged the old Civil War song, “We are Coming, Father Abraham.”

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 has performed little as an actor on stage.

“I did a few musicals in college, but they were all very small roles. I was only on stage when the band was on stage.”

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.”

The film is expected to arrive at Green River Cinema Six in Campbellsville at the beginning of December.
After watching the premiere in Louisville, Land predicts an Oscar nomination for the film.

“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.

Spielberg spoke in reference to Lincoln’s address, his presidency and the film. An Abraham Lincoln impersonator and other civil war reenactments were also present at the ceremony.

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

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is