Julie Andrews, Harolyn Blackwell, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, The Manzari Brothers, Terrence McNally, Lorne Michaels, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Paul Simon are among the artists scheduled to take part in the opening concert of The Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A 50th Anniversary Celebration, to be held on January 20 at 7pm at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer will host the event, which will kick off a three week series of performances that honor the anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration.
At the center of the concert and the series will be Peter Lieberson's new composition Remembering JFK: An American Elegy. The work will be performed by National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and feature narration by Morgan Freeman. The piece was commissioned by the Kennedy Center and includes text taken from President Kennedy's speeches and writings. The work will be subsequently performed January 22-24 and paired with Leonard Bernstein's Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
Other events in the anniversary celebration will be three evening-length performances of mixed repertory by American Ballet Theatre which includes favorite works of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; and tributes to historic performances given at the White House by Pablo Casals and Grace Bumbry performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Denyce Graves, respectively. The event will also feature a new theater work solicited by colleges and universities around the country that exemplifies President Kennedy's legacy; and a newly commissioned play for young audiences and their families based on two collections of poetry selected by Caroline Kennedy titled American Scrapbook: A Celebration of Verse.
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