Outgoing San Francisco Symphony Director Michael Tilson Thomas and singer Linda Ronstadt were both lauded at the annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday — and the ceremony itself will be broadcast on CBS this coming Sunday, December 15.
"What a night for San Francisco. I’m in absolute awe," said Leslie Carrara-Rudolph on the red carpet, per the Chronicle's Datebook. The Walnut Creek native was there as part of a gang of puppeteers helping to honor Sesame Street creators Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett.
And it wasn't just Tilson Thomas' and Ronstadt's honors that were about San Francisco — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got to be the honored dignitary for the event after two years in which our arts-despising president has declined to show his face at the event. Pelosi and her husband sat in the President's Box, as the Chronicle reports, and her introduction from the stage by Kennedy Center chair David Rubenstein was met with a standing ovation.
The other honorees this year are actress Sally Field and R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire. As always, each honoree is feted from the stage with "This is Your Life"-style montages, medleys, and cover performances.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was given host duties at a dinner for honorees in Washington on Saturday night, and as CNN reports, Ronstadt made sure to get in a dig at Trump. Pompeo referenced Ronstadt's 1975 hit "When Will I Be Loved" and said to Ronstadt, "Thank you and congratulations. And I will say my job, as I travel the world, I just want to know when I will be loved?" Ronstadt got to take the microphone after that, and she replied, "I'd like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he'll be loved, it's when he stops enabling Donald Trump."
Celebrating @mtilsonthomas & @joshuasf at the @kencen #honors with my fellow @nwsymphony alumni was a highlight of my musical life. Congratulations #MTT & thank you to the Kennedy Center for putting on a moving & powerful show. Next Sunday on @CBS!! https://t.co/H6Ik3mERYl— Teddy Abrams (@teddyconducts) December 9, 2019
At 73, Ronstadt suffers from Parkinson's disease, and she officially retired from singing in 2011. CNN commentator Peggy Drexler notes that Ronstadt's remarks stood out at the State Department event because they were so impolite, and because they "did not follow traditional rules of decorum expected — from women, especially — at such events."
Ronstadt was praised during the ceremony by onetime Pirates of Penzance costar Kevin Kline, as well as given tribute by singer Carrie Underwood, who performed her famous song "Blue Bayou," itself a cover of Roy Orbison.
Tilson Thomas was celebrated by Terms of Endearment star Debra Winger, and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, among others.
Tune in Sunday at 8 p.m. to see the whole affair.