Thanks to the techies

On a night of small plea­sures, the Bowl’s au­dio­vi­sual sys­tem proves its met­tle.


It was a lit­tle thing. Still, the more in­for­ma­tion ex­plodes, the more we turn to un­der­stand­ing big events through the seem­ingly small. We fol­low, say, the progress of mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion through the de­vel­op­ment of the pen­cil, or we trace mi­nus­cule cur­rents caused by smash­ing a gnat on Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard to the hot African winds cur­rently plagu­ing Rome.

On Tues­day night, Vasily Pe­trenko walked onto the Hol­ly­wood Bowl stage and, as I’ve never seen be­fore at the Bowl, led the Na­tional An­them while stand­ing among the Los An­ge­les Phil­har­monic play­ers, be­fore mount­ing the podium to be­gin the pro­gram. One way to read this ap­peal­ing ges­ture was as Rus­sian con­duc­tor show­ing cul­tural ca­ma­rade-

“If there was ever a time to pay at­ten­tion to the arts and hu­man­i­ties, it’s now,” added Lear, 95, a long­time sup­porter of lib­eral causes who has been a fre­quent critic of Trump. “It’s what brings us to­gether, it’s what con­nects us, it’s what holds us to­gether cul­tur­ally. And the arts and hu­man­i­ties could not be more im­por­tant than now, when we are so badly splin­tered.”

He added that if Trump wished to talk to him at some point be­fore or af­ter the cer­e­mony, “I wouldn’t say no.”

The awards are given in recog­ni­tion of life­long achieve­ments in the per­form­ing arts, in­clud­ing dance, mu­sic, theater, opera, mo­tion pic­tures or tele­vi­sion. Re­ceiv­ing the honor along with Lear are singer­song­writer Gloria Este­fan, hip-hop artist-ac­tor LL Cool J, dancer-chore­og­ra­pher Car­men de Laval­lade, and singer-song­writer Lionel Richie. The honorees will be saluted at a gala at the Kennedy Cen­ter Opera House. CBS will broad­cast the event on Dec. 26.

Este­fan, the first Cuban Amer­i­can to re­ceive the honor, has said that she plans to use the oc­ca­sion as an op­por­tu­nity to speak with Trump about the achieve­ments made by im­mi­grants. Trump this week un­veiled pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to limit le­gal and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, fa­vor­ing for­eign­ers who can speak English and have cer­tain ed­u­ca­tion lev­els.

“Mr. Pres­i­dent, as a proud im­mi­grant of this coun­try, it’s very im­por­tant for me that you see the won­der­ful con­tri­bu­tions we have made,” the singer said in an in­ter­view with the New York Times.

The Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors have been given out an­nu­ally since 1978. There have of­ten been sharp po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween the re­cip­i­ents and the pres­i­dent in of­fice at the time, but Lear is be­lieved to be the only one to ac­tu­ally skip the re­cep­tion hosted by the pres­i­dent.

Singer and lib­eral ac­tivist Bar­bra Streisand at­tended the re­cep­tion hosted by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush when she was hon­ored by the Kennedy Cen­ter in 2008.

In a state­ment fol­low­ing the awards, Streisand, who had been highly crit­i­cal of Bush over the Iraq war, said she was sur­prised when she ex­tended her hand to the pres­i­dent and he said, “‘Aw c’mon, gimme a hug and a kiss,’ and then he pro­ceeded to em­brace me. I must say, I found him very warm and com­pletely dis­arm­ing .”

She added that “in some small way, he and I proved that we could agree to dis­agree, and, for that week­end, art tran­scended pol­i­tics.”

Brian van der Brug Los An­ge­les Times

THE KENNEDY Cen­ter will honor Nor­man Lear.

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