Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming and Q-Tip Named New Artistic Partners of the Kennedy Center

Yo-Yo Ma
Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Three New Artistic Partners to Lead Center-wide Artistic and Community Initiatives
Yo-Yo Ma • Renée Fleming • Q-Tip

Yo-Yo Ma to Serve as Artistic Advisor At Large,
Advocating and Fostering JFK Ideals
Through Programming and Public Engagement

Renée Fleming to Serve as Artistic Advisor At Large,
Curating VOICES Series and Launching Initiatives to Explore and Expand the Impact of Arts in Society

Q-Tip Appointed to Establish a Dynamic New Program as the Center’s First Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture

(WASHINGTON)—As part of its 2016–2017 season announcement, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced three newly appointed roles and key relationships with legendary cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma (Artistic Advisor At Large), superstar soprano and arts advocate Renée Fleming (Artistic Advisor At Large), and renowned Hip Hop artist and socially conscious cultural pioneer Q-Tip (Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture). As artists, curators, and thought leaders, these three new advisory roles will advance important institution-wide initiatives, and explore new facets of the arts on both local and national levels over the next three years. Mr. Ma, Ms. Fleming, and Q-Tip will join the Kennedy Center’s current multidisciplinary team of Artistic Partners including:
Philippe Auguin, Music Director, Washington National Opera;
Mason Bates, Kennedy Center Composer in Residence;
Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra and Kennedy Center; Suzanne Farrell, Artistic Advisor for Ballet Programming and Artistic Director for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet;
Joseph Kalichstein, Artistic Director for Fortas and Chamber Music Programming;
Jason Moran, Artistic Director for Jazz Programming;
Gianandrea Noseda, Music Director Designate, National Symphony Orchestra;
Steven Reineke, NSO Principal Pops Conductor;
and Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director, Washington National Opera.

“Our team has dedicated a great deal of time reimagining how we can put artists at the very center of our work here at the Kennedy Center. The current season already shows many examples of this commitment to artist-centric programming with Jason Moran’s Jason+ series, Mason Bates’s KC Jukebox, and Damian Woetzel’s DEMO,” commented Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “I have invited three very forward-thinking artists, Yo-Yo, Renée, and Q-Tip, to collaborate with us on the deepest levels as we shape the future of the Center’s programming and seize our responsibility to represent the performing arts in contemporary culture. I expect the outcomes of our work with these exceptional artists will have a transformative impact on the way arts patrons interact not only with the Kennedy Center, but the arts in communities around the country.”

Yo-Yo Ma joins the Kennedy Center effective immediately as Artistic Advisor At Large, a three-year role in which he will guide both the Center’s future programming and public engagement around the JFK Centennial theme and ideals of courage, freedom, justice, service, and gratitude. As the Kennedy Center celebrates this milestone, Ma will play a central role in introducing these themes to a wide spectrum of audiences. Focusing primarily on public service and support for culture, Mr. Ma begins his new appointment with the annual Kennedy Center Arts Summit, April 25, 2016, an event he will co-host and co-curate with Renee Fleming. He will also collaborate with Kennedy Center artistic administrators on the development of new programming formats, participate in interactive discussions and interviews, advance the broad work of the Center through advocacy, as well as engage in educational activities through mentorship, master classes, and visits to local schools.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with the Kennedy Center, the living memorial to President Kennedy, and what he stood for,” commented Yo-Yo Ma. “I look forward to working with Deborah Rutter and the great Kennedy Center team as the Center prepares to mark the centennial of his birth.”

American soprano Renée Fleming also joins the Kennedy Center in 2016, as Artistic Advisor At Large, a position that embodies her talents as curator, educator, and performer. An advocate for breaking down perceived barriers between art forms, Fleming will work to inform, innovate, and create new work and initiatives throughout her three-year appointment. As a thought leader for Kennedy Center programming, she will begin by curating a new concert series celebrating the full gamut of vocal expression. She will also contribute to educational and development initiatives, and perform in a variety of creative programming.

Hip Hop culture is defined by the core elements of deejaying, emceeing, breakdancing, and graffiti writing. The fifth element, knowledge of self, was the key contribution of Afrika Bambaataa, founder of the first Hip Hop organization, the Universal Zulu Nation. Q-Tip, an active member of the Zulu Nation, joins the Center as its first Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture. He embodies both the multifaceted nature of the culture, as well as a history of seminal work and longstanding relevance within the Hip Hop community.

“My new position as Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture gives me the ability to show many lanes and perspectives in which Hip Hop is breaking, and has broken, new ground,” commented Q-Tip.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President Kennedy. Under the leadership of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation’s busiest performing arts facility attract audiences and visitors totaling 3 million people annually; Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more.

Opening its doors on September 8, 1971, the Center presents the greatest performances of music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center’s achievements as a commissioner, producer, and nurturer of developing artists have resulted in more than 300 theatrical productions, and dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works.

Read the full press release here.