On the evening of June 6th, Lincoln Center held the first Performing Arts Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Gala at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan. The legendary artists inducted Louis Armstrong, Plácido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra McDonald, Leontyne Price, and Harold Prince are the first class to be honored. The 2017 world renowned talents were celebrated for artistic excellence and creative achievement in the performing arts.
The glamorous evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the of foyer of Alice Tully Hall. Debora L. Spar, President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts welcomed honorees, presenters, performers, patrons of the arts and guests to the Starr Theater, Adrienne Arsht Stage.
“CBS This Morning” co-host Nora O’Donnell was the emcee for the star studded induction ceremony and performances. The tribute performances were directed by Christopher d’Amboise with music direction by Paul Staroba. A&E Networks produced the moving video montages. The event also honored Lincoln Center’s Founding Members Amyas Ames, George Balanchine, Morton Baum, Vivian Beaumont, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Bing, Anthony Bliss, Gordon J. Davis, Avery Fisher, Bernard Gersten, Lincoln Kirstein, James Levine, John V. Lindsay, Wynton Marsalis, Peter Martins, William F. May, Peter Mennin, Carlos Moseley, Gregory Mosher, Mitzi E. Newhouse, Jerome Robbins, John D. Rockefeller, III, Richard Roud, William Schuman, Martin E. Segal, Beverly Sills, Charles M. Spofford, Carleton Sprague Smith, Alice Tully, and Charles Wadsworth whose spirit of innovation made Lincoln Center possible.
Trumpeter, vocalist and composer, the late great Louis Armstrong performed many times with the New York Philharmonic. His legacy lives on at Jazz at Lincoln Center where his music is featured by members who he has inspired and influenced. Under the direction of Wynton Marsalis the Jazz for Young People an early education program for children continues as the Louis Armstrong Classroom at the Frederick P. Rose Hall in Columbus Circle. Wynton Marsalis who accepted the award on behalf of his hero Louis Armstrong shared, “The depth of his humanity is what made him great.”
Since making his debut in 1968 with The Metropolitan Opera, Plácido Domingo has performed as a vocalist and a conductor in virtually every season. Mr. Domingo has sung over 800 performances and opened the Met's season a record breaking twenty times. He has performed at many concerts and benefits with the New York Philharmonic. His sons accepted the honor on his behalf. Mr. Domingo was preparing to perform in an opera in Vienna.
Yo-Yo Ma was a pupil of Leonard Rose in the junior department of The Juilliard School. He made his New York Philharmonic debut in 1978. His career as a performer boasts 90 albums, performances and collaborations with many musical genres and artistsat The Chamber Music Society, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, orchestras and recitals around the world. He founded the Silk Road Ensemble who performed. Alan Alda presented the award to his friend. Yo-Yo Ma observed, “Music is a human interaction. Think about the power of art for ourselves and our society.”
The Tony's most awarded performer, Emmy and Grammy award-winner Audra McDonald began her career at The Juilliard School. She made her Lincoln Center theater debut in her first Tony Award winning performance in “Carousel". Audra thanked her Lincoln Center family for giving her the life she is so fortunate to lead. Adam Gwon’s original song for Audra McDonald was performed by James Monroe Iglehart, Ashley Brown and Lindsay Mendez, backed by Rosie’s Theater Kids.
Another Juilliard School graduate, Leontyne Price debut at the Metropolitan Opera began her international acclaim as one of the world's reigning sopranos and the first African American opera singer to sing the lead of Cleopatra. Denyce Graves presented the award to Ms. Price’s brother, General who graciously accepted her award. Denise also performed an aria and shared her admiration of the divine diva.
Broadway's most celebrated producer and director Harold Prince has won more Tony Awards than any one. Joel Grey presented the honor to the producer and director of ”Cabaret”. A medley of Mr. Prince’s hit shows The Pajama Game, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Company, and Sweeney Todd was performed. Added Harold Prince, “I don’t spend much time looking back. What excites me so much about this honor is the chance to communicate my love of the performing arts to new audiences each day, with each visitor who spends time on this beautiful campus.”
Broadway best performers included Ashley Brown, Gavin Creel, Jared Grimes, Lindsey Mendez, RANGE a cappella, Emily Skinner, Bria Skonberg and Deborah Voigt. Creative luminaries and patrons moved from the theater to an elegant candlelight dinner prepared by Chef Tim McLaughlin. The evening continued over courses of carrot salad with radish, cucumber and fries with ginger vinaigrette, Oven roasted Merluza with Spring vegetable paella and broccoli with a luscious dessert of strawberry rhubarb crostata topped with Zabaglione Gelato. Thanks to the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund Media and Entertainment co-chairs Nancy J. Dubuc (A + E Networks) Meredith K. Levien (The New York Times) Company and Council members for their generous support of the performing arts. Honorees, presenters and patrons of the arts showed their deep admiration for Lincoln Center and an unwavering belief in the performing arts as a connecting thread for all of humanity.
Proceeds from the historic gala benefit the resident companies of Lincoln Center. The nation’s leading performing arts center is home to The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, the School of American Ballet, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The Performing Arts Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center honors artists and cultural leaders who embody greatness. The evening heralded the dynamic creativity, tenacity, and innovative spirit of these artists and inspires future generations of arts pioneers. The one-night only exclusive celebration raised $1.1 million for the 10 arts organizations of Lincoln Center.