About the Honoree
Stephen W. Hawking is one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists. His dramatic breakthroughs into the origin of the universe and the properties of black holes are among the most revolutionary insights into the nature of the cosmos since the work of Albert Einstein. Until stepping down last October, Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Isaac Newton. In presenting Professor Hawking the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama stated that “he’s led us on a journey to the farthest and strangest reaches of the cosmos. In so doing, he has stirred our imagination and shown us the power of the human spirit here on Earth.”
Stephen W. Hawking is one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists. His dramatic breakthroughs into the origin of the universe and the properties of black holes are among the most revolutionary insights into the nature of the cosmos since the work of Albert Einstein. Over a 40-year academic career, he has made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity. With Roger Penrose, he showed that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have begun at the Big Bang and ended in black holes, suggesting it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory. In 1974, this led him to the astonishing discovery that black holes should emit radiation, today known as Hawking radiation.
Dr. Hawking’s extraordinary ability to communicate complex theories in an accessible way has opened the mysteries of distant worlds to the broader public. His popular books include the 1988 A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than ten million copies. With his daughter, Lucy Hawking, he has authored two children’s books: George’s Secret Key to the Universe and George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt. Among his many honors are a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Until stepping down last October, Dr. Hawking held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics for a historic 30 years, a chair that was once held by Isaac Newton. He continues working in Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics University as Director of Research.
Alan Alda, a seven-time Emmy® Award winner, played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H, and appeared in continuing roles on ER, The West Wing, 30 Rock, and The Blacklist. He has starred in, written, and directed many films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. His interest in science led to his hosting the award-winning PBS series Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years, on which he interviewed hundreds of scientists. Also on PBS, he hosted The Human Spark, winning the 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award, and Brains on Trial in 2013. On Broadway, he appeared as the physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED. He is the author of the play Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie. He has won the National Science Board’s™ Public Service Award, the Scientific American Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Chemical Society Award for Public Service, among others. He is a Visiting Professor at Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.
Danny Burstein is a native New Yorker who got his Equity card at 19 and has been working ever since in summer stock, regional theatre, movies, television and on and off Broadway. He played Luther Billis in the Broadway revival of South Paciﬁc at Lincoln Center Theater, for which he received a 2008 Outer Critics Circle Award and Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. Burstein was also nominated for a 2006 Tony Award for the role of Aldolpho in the original Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone. He spent three seasons as an original company member of Tony Randall’s National Actors Theatre, where his credits included Three Men on a Horse(with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall), Saint Joan (with Maryann Plunkett and John Neville), The Seagull (with Jon Voight and Tyne Daly), A Little Hotel on the Side (with Lynn Redgrave), and The Flowering Peach (with Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson). Other Broadway credits include A Class Act, Titanic and Company. His film and television credits include Boardwalk Empire (directed by Martin Scorsese), Transamerica, Duane Incarnate, Deception, all three versions of Law & Order, Ed, Conviction, Hope & Faith and the BBC hit Absolutely Fabulous.
Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher, who composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Among her many awards was the first Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” Dr. Alexander has published five books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), American Sublime (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association’s “Notable Books of the Year;” and, most recently, her first young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color (2008 Connecticut Book Award). She is also the author of two essay collections and a play.
Currently chair of African American Studies at Yale University, Dr. Alexander has taught numerous poetry workshops and served as both faculty and honorary director of Cave Canem, an organization dedicated to the development and endurance of African American poetic voices.
Grammy-nominated Eldar Djangirov is one of the top jazz pianists on the scene today. He has played with many of the masters, including Dave Brubeck, Michael Brecker, Wynton Marsalis and Dr. Billy Taylor. His latest recording Virtue, made it to the Top 20 on Billboard’s Jazz album chart and Jazzweek’s radio chart by the third week. Originally from Kyrgyzstan, Djangirov has toured throughout North America, Europe and Asia, appearing at the Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and at the notable jazz venues, including Blue Note (NY, Japan, Italy), the Vanguard, and Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center. He has also appeared at numerous festivals, including IAJE, Lionel Hampton, Jakarta, SXSW and CMJ.
John Lithgow’s many Broadway appearances include The Changing Room, My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the Wells, Comedians, Anna Christie, Once in a Lifetime, Spokesong, Bedroom Farce, Beyond Therapy, Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Front Page, M. Butterfly, Sweet Smell of Success, The Retreat From Moscow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and All My Sons. Off-Broadway: Mrs. Farnsworth, Stories by Heart and most recently, Mr. & Mrs. Fitch. England: Malvolio in Twelfth Night (RSC). Television: 3rd Rock From the Sun and Dexter. Film: The World According to Garp, Terms of Endearment, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Footloose, Cliffhanger, Shrek and Kinsey. Dance: Carnival of the Animals (NYC Ballet). For children: eight best-selling picture books, three CDs and concerts with major U.S. orchestras. Awards: two Tonys (of five nominations), three Drama Desk Awards, four Emmys (of 10 nominations), two Oscar nominations, four Grammy nominations, two Golden Globes, two SAG Awards.
Arturo Delmoni, violinist and violist, has earned critical acclaim in the United States and abroad for his stylish, elegant interpretations of classical masterpieces. His distinctive playing embodies the romantic warmth that was the special province of the great virtuosi of the golden age of violin playing. Delmoni made his debut at Carnegie Hall at age 14 playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Little Orchestra Society under Thomas Scherman. Since then, he has been soloist with the St. Louis, Dallas, Spokane, Jupiter, El Paso, Glendale and Tucson Symphony Orchestras; the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the California Chamber Symphony, the New York City Ballet Orchestra; the Rhode Island, Brooklyn, Boston, Omaha and Kansas City Philharmonics; and the Boston Pops.
He has appeared as a recitalist throughout the United States and Europe, the Middle East, Japan and Hong Kong. As a chamber musician, Delmoni has performed with colleagues such as Pinchas Zukerman, Andres Cardenes, Elmar Oliveira, Emanuel Ax, Nathaniel Rosen, Jon Kimura Parker, Jeffery Kahane and Dudley Moore. For three months of the year, Delmoni holds the distinguished position of concertmaster of the New York City Ballet. He plays a J.B. Guadagnini, 1780, and a viola from the same period.
Tiler Peck has danced leading roles in ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, in addition to a wide variety of choreographers, including Peter Martins, Susan Stroman and Christopher Wheeldon. She has also had numerous works created for her, most recently by Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor for the 2010 New York City Ballet Spring season.
Peck entered the School of American Ballet, the official school of NYCB, full time in the fall of 2003. In February 2005 she joined the NYCB as a member of the corps de ballet. In December 2006, she was promoted to Soloist and in October 2009 she was promoted to Principal.
She is a 2004 recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation – USA Dance Fellowship, a 2004 Mae L. Wien Award recipient, and Janice Levin Honoree for 2006-2007. She has also performed in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Manon Broadway and as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and recently appeared as a special guest star on the hit television show Dancing with the Stars.
Kelli O’Hara recently starred in the Tony Award-winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, enrapturing audiences and critics alike with her interpretation of Nellie Forbush, garnering a third Tony-nomination in the process. Her other Broadway shows include The Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic Award Nomination), Light in the Piazza (Tony and Drama Desk Nomination), Sweet Smell of Success with John Lithgow, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde and Follies.
Among her film and television credits are Sex & the City 2, The Dying Gaul starring Patricia Clarkson and Campbell Scott; Alexander Hamilton starring Brian F. O’Byrne, NUMB3RS and All My Children.
In addition to her critically acclaimed performance of Eliza Doolittle in the NY Philharmonic production of My Fair Lady, O’Hara’s concerts include a solo concert at Carnegie Hall with NY Pops conducted by Rob Fisher, Carnegie Hall with Barbara Cook, The Kennedy Center with Marvin Hamlisch and the NSO, The New York Philharmonic with Marvin Hamlisch and a sold-out run at Café Carlyle. Her voice can be heard on numerous cast recordings and her solo album Wonder in the World (Ghostlight Records.)
David Hallberg has danced the title role in Apollo, Solor in La Bayadère, Albrecht in Giselle, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, among many others, for the American Ballet Theatre. He joined ABT’s Studio Company (now ABT II) in September 2000 and then joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. He was promoted to Soloist in January 2004 and Principal in May 2005.
During the fall of 2008 and 2009, Hallberg was a member of Kings of The Dance, which toured Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia, and he has been a guest artist with many companies including the Royal Swedish Ballet, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and the Kiev Ballet. He has danced at galas throughout the world from Japan to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Hallberg was a recipient of the Princess Grace Fellowship and the Chris Hellman Dance Award for 2002-2003. He received a nomination for the Benois de la Danse Award in 2006.
The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. In 1998 Mr. Ma established the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. By examining the flow of ideas throughout this vast area, the Project seeks to illuminate the heritages of the Silk Road countries and identify the voices that represent these traditions today. The Project’s major activities have included the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which included more that 400 artists from 25 countries and drew more than 1.3 million visitors, concerts at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, and Silk Road Chicago, a city-wide year-long residency in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the City of Chicago. Mr. Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai.
Mr. Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist, and his discography of over 75 albums (including more than 15 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list.
Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Sonning Prize (2006) and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008). In 2006, then Secretary General Kofi Annan named him a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2007, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended his appointment. In January 2009, at the invitation of President-Elect Barak Obama, Mr. Ma played in the quartet performance of John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts at the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.
Mr. Ma and his wife have two children. Mr. Ma plays two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.
The Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of internationally renowned performers and composers from more than 20 countries. Each Ensemble member’s career illustrates a unique response to what is one of the artistic challenges of our times: to maintain the integrity of art rooted in authentic traditions while nourishing global connections. Many of the musicians first came together under the artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma at a workshop at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts in 2000. Since then, in various configurations, Ensemble artists have collaborated on a diverse range of musical and multimedia projects, presenting innovative performances that spring from Eastern and Western traditions and contemporary musical crossroads.
Brad Lubman, conductor/composer, is founding co-Artistic Director and Music Director of Ensemble Signal, hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most vital groups of its kind.”. He has gained widespread recognition during the past two decades for his versatility, commanding technique, and insightful interpretations. His guest conducting engagements include major orchestras such as the DSO Berlin, Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie, WDR Symphony Cologne, Cracow Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, performing repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary orchestral works. He has worked with some of the most important ensembles for contemporary music, including London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, musikFabrik, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, and Steve Reich and Musicians. He has recorded for Albany, BMG/RCA, Bridge, Cantaloupe, CRI, Kairos, Koch, Mode, New World, Nonesuch, Orange Mountain, and Tzadik. Lubman’s own compositions have been performed in the USA and Europe and can be heard on his CD, insomniac, on Tzadik.
Lubman is Associate Professor of Conducting and Ensembles at the Eastman School of Music, where he has directed the Musica Nova ensemble since joining the faculty in 1997. He is also on the faculty of the Bang-on-a-Can Summer Institute. He is represented by Karsten Witt Musik Management.
Emalie Savoy made her Carnegie Hall debut as the soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s Paulus with The Oratorio Society of New York. A lover of concert and recital, she has also been seen in performance at Alice Tully Hall and the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Savoy’s operatic credits include Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; Susan B. Anthony in Thomson’s The Mother of Us All; Giulietta in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Doriclea in Cavalli’s La Doriclea; Norah in Shield’s The Poor Soldier and the Countess in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.