October 13, 2010 / 3:10 PM / 8 years ago

Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon to kick off Kennedy celebrations

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs during the Dan David Prize award ceremony in University of Tel Aviv May 21, 2006. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, actress Julie Andrews, singer Paul Simon and musician Herbie Hancock will take part in a concert in January celebrating the legacy of former President John F. Kennedy and his commitment to the arts, the Kennedy Center said on Wednesday.

The January 20 concert at the Kennedy Center will kick off three weeks of performances and events to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration as U.S. president.

They will include American Ballet Theater staging’s of works favored by Jacqueline Kennedy, and the world premiere of a new orchestral piece “Remembering JFK: An American Elegy” by Peter Lieberson, which includes narration by actor Morgan Freeman of texts taken from President Kennedy’s speeches and writings.

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. is a living memorial to President Kennedy’s drive to develop a national performing arts center and to honor America’s greatest artists.

The three week anniversary program will also include recreations of the “Concerts for Young People by Young People” of the 1960s, exhibitions and a new theater work.

The Jan 20 opening event will be hosted by TV journalist Diane Sawyer and director Mike Nichols. Andrews, Simon, Hancock, tap dancers The Manzari Brothers and African-American soprano Harolyn Blackwell will be among the performers and presenters.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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