World-famous musician Yo-Yo Ma kicking off national arts program in Corona

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is bringing an internationally acclaimed musician to Corona next week.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will discuss “the current state and bright future of the arts” with Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter at 2 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the Historic Civic Center Theater. The event filled up within hours after registration became available on the Corona Chamber of Commerce website.

Corona was picked for a pilot initiative called “Arts Across America” through the help of Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona.

“Of all the hundreds and thousands of cities in the United States, Corona is chosen,” Mayor Karen Spiegel said by phone.

She made the announcement at the Wednesday, Feb. 21, Corona City Council meeting.

The Kennedy Center is a performing arts venue in Washington D.C. that sponsors education programs, including Arts Across America. The program is intended to celebrate “unexpected” cities “that use the arts to heal and connect,” according to Kathy Fletcher, who told Spiegel Corona had been chosen and visited the city for two days before the announcement.

Fletcher is national director of Turnaround Arts, a Kennedy Center program that brings arts to schools with local partners, including Barton Elementary School in San Bernardino.

What happens in Corona will play a role in determining how the initiative goes forward, Kennedy Center director of public relations Michelle Pendoley said by phone.

The Corona launch will include a school visit and lunch with business leaders, Fletcher said by phone.

Spiegel said that when she announced Ma was part of the package, “that was over the top. People are ecstatic.”

A winner of 18 Grammy awards, Ma has been a star since the 1980s.

This is not first time he has visited the Inland Empire as a speaker. In 2012, he participated in an Esri conference called “Reinventing the Art of Conversation,” in which he conversed with magician David Blaine.

Ma is on tour performing Brahms’ piano trios with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos. He will visit Corona before sold-out concerts scheduled for Saturday, March 3, in San Diego and Sunday, March 4, in Los Angeles.

Tickets for 410 seats became available shortly after the council meeting, but by Thursday afternoon were gone.


What: “Corona: A Cultural Conversation” with Yo-Yo Ma, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter and local representatives.

When: Friday, March 2

Where: Historic Civic Center Theater, Corona

Notable: Corona was chosen from cities across the nation to launch the “Arts Across America” pilot program.

By FIELDING BUCK | | The Press-Enterprise
PUBLISHED: February 22, 2018 at 11:54 am | UPDATED: February 22, 2018 at 10:49 pm

Congratulations to the first The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts #ArtsAcrossAmerica site #Corona. Thank you for the incredible hospitality! Yo-Yo Ma (Kathy Fletcher)
What an incredible afternoon enjoying A Cultural Conversation with Yo-Yo Ma! His passion for the arts makes me ever more thankful that my girls have invested their lives in theater. Thank you to Cyndi Jones Monroe and Don Kindred for organizing such a wonderful event for our community! Thank you to The Kennedy Center for recognizing the arts in Corona! The cast of Godspell performed a number from the show and the crowd loved it! Get tickets folks! (Linda Medina Pettijohn)
Great day at El Cerrito Middle School. I love my job. You know you have built a quality program when Yo-Yo Ma is 6th chair. (Lori Bonner-Fruchter)
Yo-Yo Ma (Cello) and Kathryn Stott (Piano) perform the ‘Arc of Life’ Suite at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa on Saturday night. Photo by Nick Koon / Staff Photographer.
Yo Yo Ma with Corona’s two Ambassadors for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Its not every day you meet Yo Yo Ma. (Melanie Steinkirchner)