The Kennedy Center

Yo-Yo Ma

National Symphony Orchestra: John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration with Yo-Yo Ma

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 8:00 PM

JFK Centennial Celebration National Symphony Orchestra

A world premiere work from Mason Bates unites the iconic American voices of President John F. Kennedy and poet Walt Whitman in this concert celebration of JFK's monumental legacy that also features world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

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Led by conductor Joshua Weilerstein in his National Symphony Orchestra debut, this concert celebration of John F. Kennedy's monumental legacy features a world premiere from Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates. Passage examines the theme of American exploration through the visionary words of Walt Whitman and John F. Kennedy. Composed for renowned mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the NSO, the work imaginatively sets Whitman's "Passage to India" alongside recorded fragments of JFK's moonshot speech. Two iconic American voices—that of poet and President—come together on a journey to the ever-expanding human frontier.

World-renowned cellist and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large Yo-Yo Ma, called "the best-known, most versatile music soloist in this country and perhaps in the world" (The Washington Post), also joins the program in a concerto by another American icon, John Williams, who wrote the work with Ma in mind.

Includes a free post-concert AfterWords discussion.

This event is part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy, inspired by five enduring ideals often ascribed to JFK: Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service, and Gratitude. Learn more about this event's connection to the celebration.  

Performance Timing: Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Watch and Listen

Mason Bates: Passage