American conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas has today been announced as one of the five 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees.
First presented in 1978, the honour celebrates “icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness” (Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein), and is one of the most prestigious in the US. In distinguished company, MTT is honoured alongside R&B collective Earth, Wind & Fire, actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt and children’s TV programme Sesame Street.
Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter says,“When I look at this class, I see the hopes, aspirations, and achievements not just of these honorees, but of the many generations they have influenced and continue to influence. We’re not just looking back; these honorees are urging us to look forward as well.”
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubinstein says, “Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score: he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.”
MTT and his fellow honourees will be celebrated at a star-studded gala on 8 December 2019, recorded for broadcast on CBS on Sunday 15 December at 8pm ET, and produced by the team behind multiple Super Bowl half-time shows, 18 consecutive Tony Awards®, and the Primetime Emmy Awards®. The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday 7 December, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner.
“The life of an artist, or of an arts institution, has essentially two moments. The first is inventing yourself which takes vision and gumption. The second is going the distance, sustaining the vision and sharing it. I was fortunate to grow up around people who did both. My family and my devoted teachers lived every day reaffirming the highest standards and ideals of the arts and of our nation. They understood that the arts really matter when they have a creative role in a living tradition. I am honored that the Kennedy Center, which is a living center of both arts and ideals, has chosen to recognize my work. I hope that I can be thought of as a representative for all American classical musicians at this remarkable event.”
You can find out more about all of this year’s nominees at the Kennedy Center website.