Jessye Norman, Michael Tilson Thomas among National Medal of Arts recipients

Two eminent classical music stars (and two of my own personal favorites, as if you care) received the National Medal of Arts Thursday at the White House -- soprano Jessye Norman, one of the most distinctive and expressive singers of the past 50 years; and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, an incisive interpreter of both established and cutting-edge repertoire, and a superb educator.

John Williams, the celebrated film composer and conductor, was also on this year's list. Other recipients: rock icon Bob Dylan, actor/director Clint Eastwood, designer Milton Glaser, artist/architect Maya Lin, singer/actor Rita Moreno, artist Frank Stella, and Joseph P. Riley Jr., the mayor of Charleston, S.C. (home of the Spoleto Festival USA). Two institutions received medals, too -- the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the School of American Ballet.

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