09/11/09

Dave Brubeck Named Kennedy Center Honoree

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced its annual honorees on Wednesday and among the list of notable figures in arts and culture was pianist Dave Brubeck. The other honorees are Mel Brooks, Grace Bumbry, Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen. The honorees sit with the President and First Lady during the presentation, which is always star-studded and sometimes surprising for its combination of attendees. In a press release, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, “This year, the Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world.” He added, “Dave Brubeck’s genius has dazzled us for six decades and has helped to define an American art form.”

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Don Hunstein

Dave Brubeck

The presentation caps off a whole slew of activities for Brubeck and the other honorees. The President (don’t call him The Boss) and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominated them at the White House prior to the gala performance. The Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer. (Yes, we too are imagining Springsteen, Brooks and De Niro cutting loose with the Obamas on the dance floor.) And, finally, the medallions are presented to the honorees on the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Hillary Clinton.

Some questions remain. Who will perform in tribute to Brubeck? And will the audience chant BRUUUUBECK, when Dave is introduced? We’ll all find out Dec. 6 when the show is taped or Dec. 29 when the program airs on CBS.

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