CAROLINE KENNEDY RETURNS AS HOST OF
�THE 27TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS:
A CELEBRATION OF THE PERFORMING ARTS,�
TO BE BROADCAST DEC. 21 ON THE CBS TELEVISION NETWORK
Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Elton John, Joan Sutherland
And John Williams Are This Year�s Honorees at the Gala to Be Taped Dec. 5
THE 27TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: A CELEBRATION OF THE PERFORMING ARTS, a new entertainment special, will be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 21 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Caroline Kennedy will host for the second consecutive year.
Actor, producer, writer and director Warren Beatty, husband-and-wife actors, writers and producers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, singer and composer Elton John, soprano Joan Sutherland and composer and conductor John Williams will receive honors for the year 2004. Distinguished artists will present spoken and performed tributes at a gala in the Kennedy Center's Opera House on Dec. 5. President and Mrs. Bush are scheduled to attend.
The president and the first lady will receive the honorees and members of the Artists Committee, who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House on Dec. 5, prior to the gala performance. The Kennedy Center Honors ribbons will be bestowed the night before the gala (Dec. 4), at a State Department dinner, hosted by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The Honors recipients are selected each year by the Board of Trustees of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures and television. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement. Over the years, the selection process has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.
Warren Beatty was born on March 30, 1937 in Richmond, Va. In 1962, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded Beatty the Most Promising Newcomer Award. Rarely has anyone lived up to the title so brilliantly -- and so often. He made his film-acting debut in 1961�s �Splendor in the Grass,� and instantly became one of the screen�s most charismatic stars. He made his producing debut with 1967�s �Bonnie and Clyde,� in which he also starred, and created a milestone in American film. He made his writing debut with 1975�s �Shampoo,� which he also produced and starred in, and fashioned a wistful and iconic portrait of American culture. He made his directing debut with 1978�s �Heaven Can Wait,� which he also produced, wrote, and starred in, and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Has anyone else ever held such a prominent, influential place in front and behind the camera -- or so thoroughly captivated the imagination of the film-going public for four decades -- with just 22 films? Part of Beatty�s success, of course, is due to that inexplicable star quality which a lucky few happen to possess. A lot of it, though, has to do with the extraordinary range and depth of his work. There are the early career-making dramas (�Splendor in the Grass,� �Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone,� �All Fall Down,� �Lilith,� �Mickey One�) that established him as his generation�s leading interpreter of sensitive, brooding, troubled young men. But since then he has starred in or created films -- some of them among the most honored motion pictures ever -- in an impressive array of genres: romantic comedy (�Heaven Can Wait,� �Shampoo�), heist adventure (�Kaleidoscope,� �$�), gangster picture (�Bonnie and Clyde,� �Bugsy�), revisionist western (�McCabe & Mrs. Miller�), paranoid thriller (�The Parallax View�), historical epic (�Reds�), comic book adaptation (�Dick Tracy�) and political satire (�Bulworth�).
A measure of his range as a film artist is that Beatty personally has been nominated for 15 Academy Awards, spread out over four categories and six films: �Bonnie and Clyde� (producer, actor), �Shampoo� (co-writer with Robert Towne), �Heaven Can Wait� (producer, actor, director, co-writer with Elaine May), �Reds� (producer, actor, writer), �Bugsy� (producer, actor), �Bulworth� (co-writer with Jeremy Pikser). In 1982, he was awarded the Oscar for Best Director for �Reds.�
�Every project and every performance is different,� writes Stephanie Zacharek on Salon.com. �His [Beatty�s] restlessness is his driving force. His overall sense of vision and his distinct and radical guiding sensibility [have] fueled his ambitions and inspired a remarkable and uncompromising slate of mainstream movies.�
Beatty does have a second Oscar -- the Irving Thalberg Award of 2000, presented to �creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.� With a �remarkable and seldom predictable career,� wrote David Thomson in the New York Times at the time of the award, �maybe no one did more to reinvent (the motion picture) business than Warren Beatty.� �Bonnie and Clyde� changed everything and American films after it was markedly different from what preceded it. The first-time 30-year-old producer made the film as an independent movie -- at Warner Bros. and before anyone had uttered the term �indie.� Thomson writes: Beatty �kept the script �wild,� took the unit away on location; he let Arthur Penn shoot in ways that alarmed old-timers; he used a new breed of actor; he saw how to chase laughter with dread, and to make a merry riot out of slaughter; and�he argued and cajoled and manipulated the studio into making it a success.� Perhaps most importantly, Beatty �educated a generation of young filmmakers on how to use the studio setup to their advantage,� giving birth to what turned out to be the last golden age of American cinema. �Bonnie and Clyde� was a movie so new and different that upon its initial release it was severely panned, quickly disappeared from theaters, and deemed an utter failure. At Beatty�s insistence, it was released again a few months later and subsequently proclaimed a brutal and exquisite masterpiece by the very same critics who had earlier dismissed it. The film both disturbed and thrilled the youthful, rebellious audiences of 1968, and ended up one of the year�s biggest moneymakers, as well as a contender for 10 Oscars. Its influence was widespread: from making stars out of Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons, actors who would dominate American movies for the following decade, to revolutionizing the fashion industry with its depression-era costumes, makeup and hairstyles.
Beatty is the younger brother of actress Shirley MacLaine. In 1992, he married actress Annette Bening. They have four children: Kathlyn, Benjamin, Isabel and Ella Corinne.
Beatty studied acting with the internationally acclaimed Stanislavsky teacher Stella Adler and made his Broadway debut in 1960 in William Inge�s �A Loss of Roses.� Although the play closed after a few performances, Beatty made an impression and was nominated for a Tony Award. More importantly, the veteran playwright took notice of his young star, which led to Beatty making a riveting film debut as the rich and handsome Bud Stamper in �Splendor in the Grass.� Boasting an Academy Award-winning screenplay by Inge and heartbreaking direction by Elia Kazan, the movie remains one of the finest explorations of teenage love and frustration ever filmed. In the movie, Natalie Wood�s Deanie becomes enthralled with Bud -- just as filmgoers everywhere became enthralled with Warren Beatty. Four decades later, the love affair continues -- but not just with the actor, also with the artist.
OSSIE DAVIS & RUBY DEE
Ossie Davis was born on Dec. 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Ga., and Ruby Dee was born on Oct. 27, 1924 in Cleveland. They are one of the most revered couples of the American stage and two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture. As individuals and as a team, they have created profound and lasting work that has touched us all. With courage and tenacity, they have thrown open many doors previously shut tight to African American artists and planted the seed for the flowering of America�s multicultural humanity. When Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were honored by the Screen Actors� Guild with its highest honor, the Life Achievement Award, SAG president William Daniels said: �For more than half a century, they have enriched and transformed American life as brilliant actors, writers, directors, producers and passionate advocates for social justice, human dignity and creative excellence.�
Ruby Dee has appeared in more than 20 films, and her notable stage appearances include roles in �A Raisin in the Sun� (she later reprised her performance as Ruth in the 1961 film) and Genet�s �The Balcony.� Her acting has been honored with an Obie Award in 1971 for her performance in Athol Fugard�s �Boesman and Lena,� a Drama Desk Award in 1972 for her role in �Wedding Band,� an Emmy Award for NBC�s �Decoration Day� and an Ace Award for her ground-breaking performance as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O�Neill�s �Long Day�s Journey into Night.� As Kate in �The Taming of the Shrew� and Cordelia in �King Lear,� she became, in 1965, the first African-American woman to play major parts in the American Shakespeare Festival. She has written plays, musicals and several books of poetry, and she turned her own stories and folktales into the 1998 one-woman show, �One Good Nerve.�
As a playwright, screenwriter, director, producer and actor, Ossie Davis� career spans more than half a century. He has written and directed films (1970�s �Cotton Comes to Harlem�), plays (including 1961�s controversial exploration of segregation, �Purlie Victorious,� and the book for its musical adaptation, �Purlie!�), and television films (�For Us the Living: The Story of Medgar Evers�). One of his books for young people, �Escape to Freedom,� won the Jane Addam�s Children�s Book Award. On television he appeared in �The Emperor Jones� (his TV debut in 1965), �Evening Shade,� �The Client,� �Alex Haley�s Queen,� �The Defenders� and �Bonanza,� and he has received Emmy Award nominations for �Teacher, Teacher,� �King� and �Miss Evers� Boys.� His films include �The Cardinal,� �The Hill,� �The Scalphunters,� �Grumpy Old Men,� �Dr. Dolittle� and �The Client.� On stage he has given memorable performances in �No Time for Sergeants,� �The Wisteria Trees,� �Green Pastures,� �Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire,� �The Zulu and the Zayda� and �I�m Not Rappaport.�
Before they met, they already had a common goal -- to make their mark on the American theater. Davis� ambition was to be a playwright and he set out on foot from his hometown in rural Georgia to attend Howard University. He moved to New York before graduating and joined Harlem�s Rose McClendon Players and studied acting with Lloyd Richards. He made his Broadway debut in 1946 in the title role of �Jeb.� In the cast was the young Ruby Dee, a graduate of Hunter College who, like Davis, started her career in Harlem and was now also making her Broadway debut. Neither Davis nor Dee can remember the moment they met. The play only ran for nine performances and is now long forgotten, but the partnership it produced is a classic. Felicia R. Lee wrote in the New York Times, �Ms. Dee and Mr. Davis remain without peer in an industry not known for nurturing black people, older people or long marriages.� Their illustrious partnership has been celebrated as national treasures by the Academy of Television Arts and Science with a Silver Circle Award, by the American Theater with an induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and by the government of the United States with a National Medal of Arts.
Following their joint stage debut, the pair toured in a production of the American Negro Theatre�s �Anna Lucasta� and married in 1948. They also made their film debuts together in Joseph L. Mankiewicz� acclaimed tale of racial hatred, �No Way Out,� starring Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark. Since then they have appeared together and separately in more than 50 films, perhaps most effectively in several by Spike Lee: �Jungle Fever,� �Get on the Bus,� �School Daze,� �Malcolm X� (in which Davis -- as he did in real life -- delivers the moving eulogy at the funeral of the slain civil rights leader) and �Do the Right Thing,� about which Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times: �Miss Dee and Mr. Davis are not only figures within the film but, they also seem to preside over it, as if ushering in a new era of black film making.�
Their work, in fact, has always explored and celebrated the lessons of black history in the United States, making the couple an inspiration and iconic presence in contemporary African- American culture. In 1976, they produced and Davis directed �Countdown to Kusini,� the first American feature to be shot entirely in Africa by black professionals. Through their company, Emmalyn Enterprises, they produced the 1986 PBS special �Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum.�
Also for PBS, they created the 1980-82 series �With Ossie and Ruby,� and produced �A Walk Through the Twentieth Century with Bill Moyers� in 1984. Both received the NAACP Image Awards for their 1996 CBS series �Promised Land,� and delivered searing performances in �Roots: The Next Generation.� Their joint autobiography published in 2000, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, recounts their work together, not only in the arts, but also as artists at the forefront of political activism, ranging from their vigorous opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy�s Communist witch hunt to their tireless work on behalf of civil rights, voting rights and equal rights for all. �We need to make the changes, do the revolutions and make things right that will make it easier for our children and grandchildren,� says Dee.
�Intensely committed they are to the idea that art and politics are inseparable. They both firmly believe that the arts have the capacity to make viewers more human and teach them, at least on some level, how to live.� (Stagebill)
Elton John was born on March 25, 1947 in London. A force of nature in the world of music, Sir Elton John is one of the most successful and influential musical artists of all time. His artistic reach is long, his generosity breathtaking and his presence powerful not only in popular music but also on the Broadway stage, on the Hollywood screen and beyond. Since his intensely personal 1970 ballad �Your Song,� this inimitable piano man has conquered a field usually dominated by guitars, and broke Elvis Presley�s record for the most consecutive years of Top 40 hits on the Billboard charts with 24 consecutive years on top. He has sold more than 60 million albums to date, and his work is far from over.
Not one to be contained by musical or any other borders, John also has made his mark as a persuasive AIDS warrior and a fearless champion of free speech. From �Crocodile Rock� and �Daniel� to �Bennie and the Jets� and �Candle in the Wind,� from The Lion King to Aida, and from his Watford Football Club to today�s Elton John AIDS Foundation, here is an artist and humanist whose brilliance is drenched in love.
His first hit was a love song. Like much of his work, John�s gentle �Your Song� remains a deceptively simple little gem. It is both a song and a song about a song, unabashedly romantic art reflecting on timeless art, post-modernism revealed to the masses: �And you can tell everybody this is your song / It may be quite simple but now that it's done / I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words / How wonderful life is while you�re in the world.� In the decades that have followed, John has emerged in serious rock and roll armor from his tender 1970 debut. His enigmatic 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was both a straightforward musical meditation and a cultural snapshot of an era that would keep semioticians busy for years. He was a pioneer in moving rock music into ever-larger arenas, which nevertheless seemed somehow barely big enough for John�s outrageously theatrical, larger-than-life productions. His participation in the heart-breaking 1985 AIDS fundraiser �That�s What Friends Are For� and his own �Candle in the Wind 1997,� a heartfelt tribute to the late Princess of Wales that sold more than 33 million copies, helped the world grieve and helped usher in a spirit of hope.
The son of a Royal Air Force trumpet player, the future Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, in the London suburb of Pinner. He taught himself the piano at the age of four. At 11, he won a scholarship to a program for gifted children in the venerable Royal Academy of Music, where he was grounded in the classics even as his heart belonged to rock and roll. He left school after six years, joined the band Bluesology, changed his name to Elton John and began appearing in London cabarets. An audition for Liberty Records did not yield much more than a promise, but it was at Liberty in 1967 that John met Bernie Taupin. The pair became a songwriting team in 1968, and the hit-making machine of John�s music and Taupin�s lyrics has not stopped since.
�Your Song� made Elton John a household name on both sides of the Atlantic in 1970, then the album Tumbleweed Connection that followed fast that same year only solidified his grip on the public imagination. The 1970s were truly his with 1972�s �Rocket Man� marking the start of a four-year streak of 16 Top 20 hits in a row. He founded Rocket Records in 1973, producing albums by Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee. He co-wrote �Whatever Gets You Through the Night� with John Lennon, and he persuaded the ex-Beatle back onstage for a 1975 Madison Square Garden concert on Thanksgiving Day. That was Lennon�s last live performance.
John�s singles �Crocodile Rock� and the ineffably moving �Daniel� became classics. His albums Don�t Shoot Me I�m Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, the precocious Greatest Hits, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and the fun-punning Rock of the Westies, all released between 1973 and 1975, each went platinum. Captain Fantastic became the first album in history to enter the American charts in the No. 1 spot. The frantic pace slowed in 1976 when an exhausted John announced he would cut back his live appearances and record only one album a year. Still, the 1980s saw little slowing down in John and Taupin�s Top 40 singles, all the way to 1990�s �Sacrifice�-- a hit spawned by the album Sleeping with the Past that became John�s first No. 1 hit in his British homeland. In 1993, The One became the first album ever to receive multi-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the same year his collaboration with Tim Rice for the soundtrack of Disney�s �The Lion King� entered the Top Forty. In 1995, �Can You Feel the Love Tonight� from �The Lion King� earned John his first Grammy for Best Vocal Pop Performance.
The stage version of The Lion King opened on Broadway in November 1997, garnering 10 Tony nominations and winning the Tony for Best Musical. He followed the extraordinary success of his first musical with AIDA, which earned five Tony nominations and won a Tony Award for Best Score. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998, the year after �Candle in the Wind 1997� became the second biggest single in history, after Bing Crosby�s �White Christmas.� He continues his work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and has given more than $20 million to help people living with HIV and AIDS. He is returning to musicals with a project to be based on the film �Billy Elliot,� premiering at Victoria Palace in London in March 2005.
Joan Sutherland was born on Nov. 7, 1926 in Sydney. Perhaps the most beautiful voice of the 20th Century and certainly one of the great singers of all time, Joan Sutherland developed the art of the prima donna to soaring heights and gave us in the process one of the most joyful gifts the world of opera has ever known. She helped opera rediscover a long-lost world of beauty, the age of bel canto. Its meaning, beautiful singing, has never been more disarmingly, sweetly explained as when this unassuming woman sings. As her repertory grew in every direction from operatic music to more recent musical comedies and even duets with her neighbor, Noel Coward, Sutherland�s singing continues to inspire the deep affection of music lovers everywhere.
In the United States, as in her native Australia, in Europe and around the world, millions have learned to love opera and love it forever after witnessing the miracle of the meeting of this musician and great music. From her United States debut with the Dallas Opera in 1960, to her other triumphs in the major American opera houses from San Francisco to Miami and from Seattle to New York, Sutherland set new standards for opera and inspired an entire generation of American artists. Her inspiration continues through her unsurpassed recorded legacy.
Her recorded or filmed interpretations, and often reinterpretations, of the major soprano roles thrill and surprise with every new hearing: Bellini�s �Norma, I Puritani,� �Beatrice di Tenda� and �La Sonnambula�; Leo Delibes� �Lakme�; Donizetti�s �Anna Bolena�, �L�Elisir d�amore, �La fille du Regiment,� �Maria Stuarda� and, of course, �Lucia di Lammermoor�; Gounod�s �Faust�; Handel�s �Alcina,� �Julius Caesar,� �Messiah,� �Rodelinda and Athalia�; Lehar�s �The Merry Widow�; Meyerbeer�s �Les Huguenots�; Mozart�s �Don Giovanni�; Offenbach�s �Contes d�Hoffmann�; Poulenc�s �Dialogues of the Carmelites�; Puccini�s �Turandot� and �Suor Angelica�; Strauss� �Die Fledermaus�; Thomas� �Hamlet�; Verdi�s �Ernani, I Masnadieri,� �Il Trovatore,� �La Traviata,� �Rigoletto,� and �Requiem�; and even Wagner�s �Siegfried,� where Sutherland�s studio reprise of her early success as the magical Wood Bird of the Rhineland raised the bar for any future assumption of this unlikely bel canto role. Her studio recitals stand as lessons in the ineffable spell of beauty. Her landmark album, The Art of the Prima Donna, never out of print in four decades, is perhaps the single most influential classical recording for a generation of budding sopranos. Along with the visionary Age of Bel Canto, conducted by Sutherland�s husband and mentor Richard Bonynge, The Art of the Prima Donna whetted the world�s appetite for what was then rare repertory of the 18th and 19th centuries and set the adventurous agendas of opera companies everywhere.
Sutherland began her career in 1947 as a precocious talent and ended it on a high note in 1990 with a miraculous instrument that was peerless. Singing Bellini�s fiendishly difficult I Puritani at the Metropolitan Opera in 1986, days after celebrating her 25th anniversary with the company, Sutherland was in such brilliant vocal state that Donald Henahan of The New York Times described her as �surely the youngest-sounding 60-year-old soprano in modern operatic history.� The following year, after a Kennedy Center concert, Joseph McLellan happily reported in The Washington Post �the Australian soprano�s richness of tone is remarkable throughout her wide range. Her agility in the stratospheric regions above the treble staff remains amazing, not merely for a voice as big as hers but for any human voice at all.� That awe, along with gratitude and smiles, is the common response to any Sutherland performance. Her Lucia is a heartbreaking study in vulnerability expressed through purely musical terms. Her Norma, another signature role, is forever a young, beautiful priestess fallen into unforgivable sin. In both Bellini roles, as well as in so much of the repertory, Sutherland�s singing defines the genre: every note is polished, her trills are clear, her divisions insolent, her legato a marvel, her voice one of nature�s most incredible sounds.
Sutherland first studied in her native Sydney with her mother, a mezzo-soprano. She later trained formally with John and Aida Dickens, made her concert debut as the tragic heroine of Henry Purcell�s �Dido and Aeneas� in 1947, won Australia�s Sun Aria Competition in 1950 and, in 1951, sang the world premiere of Eugene Goossens� �Judith� at the Sydney Conservatorium. Only months later, the young soprano won a scholarship and moved to London to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She joined the company of Covent Garden, making her Royal Opera debut on October 28, 1952, as the First Lady in �The Magic Flute.� Blessed with a voice that seemingly could do anything, Sutherland at first sang roles across the repertory and often far from what would later become her domain. She was Helmwige in �Die Walk�re,� the Overseer in �Elektra,� Amelia in �Un ballo in maschera� and even Aida, as well as Jenifer in the world premiere of Sir Michael Tippett�s enigmatic �A Midsummer Marriage� and Mme. Lidoine in the British premiere of Poulenc�s �Dialogues of the Carmelites.� An early bel canto venture would become the stuff of opera lore, as Sutherland sang the small role of Clotilde to Maria Callas� Norma at Covent Garden in 1952.
In 1954, she married her fellow Australian Richard Bonynge, a brilliant musician and conductor. Under his loving guidance, Sutherland began delving into the intricacies of rare operatic jewels of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a revelation to hear a voice of obviously Wagnerian proportions produce the coloratura fireworks the bel canto repertory demands. It was astounding that such a huge voice also could retain its color, heft, warmth and sheer loveliness under the most intense pressure. With superhuman ease, the range of her voice grew to encompass a vocal range from the mezzo territory up to stratospheric E above the staff.
The collaboration with Bonynge paid off handsomely when Sutherland had the chance of a lifetime: her first Lucia di Lammermoor, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and conducted by Callas� mentor, Tullio Serafin, at Covent Garden on Feb. 17, 1959. It was a debut that changed opera history. What followed was the stuff of opera dreams. Sutherland made her Italian debut at La Fenice in Venice with Handel�s �Alcina.� Her success in the city that had dubbed Callas �La Divina,� earned her the nickname �La Stupenda� among her Italian fans. Paris heard her Lucia in 1960. In 1961, Sutherland took her mad Donizetti heroine both to La Scala in Milan and to the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
By then, the Sutherland-Bonynge team was unbeatable. Role followed great role in giddy succession, with the standard repertory in every major house on top of rarities such as �Maria Stuarda� and later �Esclarmonde� in San Francisco, �Lucrezia Borgia� in Vancouver, �Lakme� in Seattle, �Hamlet� in Toronto, and �Adriana Lecouvreur� in San Diego, where she famously later alternated in the roles of Adele and Rosalinde in �Die Fledermaus� with her friend Beverly Sills. The list of Sutherland�s collaborators is an honor roll of great singers of our age: Marilyn Horne, most unforgettably, as well as Montserrat Caballe, Huguette Tourangeau, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and many others who would testify to the generosity and selflessness of the Australian diva�s genius.
�We don�t really know how it all happened,� reflected Bonynge on their success. �We are both supremely ordinary people with the most ordinary tastes in the world. We are full of energy and don�t know the meaning of boredom. We love life and are happy it has worked out the way it has.� So is everyone who loves music.
John Williams was born on Feb. 8, 1932, in Long Island, New York. His distinctive sound is instantly recognizable, and his scores which have become classics of the cinema have earned him a place of honor in the history of American film and American music. Named �the most successful composer of film music in the history of the medium� by the Boston Globe, John Williams has given us the brassy, unabashedly romantic, optimistic sound of an all-American art form. He �startles you with the quality of his musical imagination,� wrote Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times. �He�s the March King of our era,� wrote the Boston Globe�s Richard Dyer.
Williams� hundreds of musical projects form an impressive panorama of the sounds of our culture, from �Playhouse 90� in 1952 and �Bachelor Flat� in 1962, to �How To Steal A Million� and �Penelope� in 1966, �Valley of the Dolls� in 1967, �The Poseidon Adventure� in 1972, �Jaws� in 1975, �Star Wars� beginning in 1977 and �Close Encounters of the Third Kind� the same year, �Superman� in 1978, �Raiders of the Lost Ark� in 1981, �E.T.� in 1982, �Empire of the Sun� in 1987, �Schindler�s List� in 1993, �Sabrina� and �Nixon� in 1995, �Saving Private Ryan� in 1998, �Harry Potter and the Sorcerer�s Stone� in 2001, �Catch Me If You Can� in 2003, �The Terminal� in 2004 and the next �Indiana Jones� picture, set for release in 2006. Making music for motion pictures for six decades and counting, John Williams has been the most powerful, most persuasive champion of true orchestral music on screen.
There is real affection for the great symphonic tradition in his work which is at once strikingly original and spectacularly accessible. He has revitalized and continues to nourish that tradition, exploring the immense possibilities of the modern symphony orchestra, enjoying a Hollywood career that so far has earned Williams five Academy Awards: for his original scores in �Schindler�s List,� �E.T.,� �Star Wars,� and �Jaws,� as well as for his adaptation of �Fiddler on the Roof.� He also has earned 17 Grammys, three Golden Globes, two Emmys, and BAFTA Awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. His music for the �Star Wars� trilogy alone is an undisputed icon of American popular culture.
Beyond the silver screen, Williams has brought his genius and generosity to the concert stage as principal conductor and now laureate conductor of the world�s most populist symphony, the Boston Pops Orchestra. His own work as a composer may prove as influential as his film music and so far has included acclaimed concert scores performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony, as well as by the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra. His duties as a sought-after guest conductor have taken him coast to coast and around the world. The indefatigable musician is currently artist-in-residence of the Tanglewood Festival.
John Towner Williams moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1948. He attended UCLA and studied composition privately with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He joined the Air Force and, after his service, returned to New York to study at the Juilliard School with the renowned Rosina Lhevinne. Williams cut his teeth as a jazz pianist in Manhattan before returning to Los Angeles, where he began working in films and television. He was a rehearsal pianist for South Pacific, an arranger of albums by artists as diverse as Doris Day and Mahalia Jackson, and a musical assistant and orchestrator for masters of film music including Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann. He worked on television, starting with the �Today Show� and �General Electric Theater,� lavishing his talent on TV gems through the years including �The Virginian,� �Kraft Summer Music Hall,� �Lost in Space,� �Heidi� and, perhaps most unforgettably, in the touching, rousing 1984 Olympic Fanfare that has become an inextricable part of the fabric of Olympic dreams.
He learned from the best and his music has been at least as bright. The sounds of George Gershwin, of Aaron Copland, of Leonard Bernstein all celebrate and define the American experience in music. John Williams, joyfully, is carrying that celebration into the 21st Century.
THE 27TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: A CELEBRATION OF THE PERFORMING ARTS is a production of the Kennedy Center. George Stevens Jr., who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 27th consecutive year. The Honors telecast has been honored with five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Program as well as the Peabody Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television. THE 27TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: A CELEBRATION OF THE PERFORMING ARTS is sponsored in part by General Motors and TIAA-CREF.
RATING: To Be Announced