Seiji Ozawa Becomes Just Second Asian American to Receive Kennedy Center Honors Award
posted by Randall
Seiji Ozawa Portrait at Tonehalle, Düsseldorf. Photo by Jun Seita
By Ed Diokno
(Note from the Editor: The Kennedy Center Honors award has been given out since 1978 to those in performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture. Japanese American Seiji Ozawa is the first Japanese American among the 203 recipients of the award and just the second Asian American. The first was Yo Yo Ma in 2011.)
Seiji Ozawa is a Red Sox fan. Who would have thought … that interests as divergent as the all-American pastime and composer Johann Sebastian Bach could be found in a single individual?
After 29 years conducting the Boston Symphony, it makes sense. The Japanese American conductor is also a fan of the New England Patriots.
The legendary conductor, 79, was honored three weeks ago at the Kennedy Center Honors event in Washington D.C. but the occasion was aired only last week (Dec. 29) on CBS. If you get a chance, you should view it. It was a whale of a show! It made me so proud to be American.
Ozawa’s multiple interviews gave a glimpse of the revered conductor as a regular guy with a wide range of interests and who has lived an extraordinary life. It took place on the red carpet prior to the formal ceremonies and performances. He touches on why, instead of pursuing a career as a pianist, he became a conductor, (ironically because of a sports-related injury).
He finds time to come out of retirement to occasionally conduct orchestras around the globe.
Secretary of State John Kerry with 2015 Kennedy Center Honors recipients
To honor Ozawa, close friend cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed Tchaikovsky’s “Andante Cantabile.” Ma, who was similarly honored in 2011, performs with such “soul.”
Ozawa’s fellow 2015 inductees included director George Lucas, actresses Rita Moreno and Cecily Tyson and songwriter Carole King.