Robert De Niro was brought to tears just before the premier of the Boston Pops for "The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers" at Boston's historic Symphony Hall Tuesday night.
"There's a long history," De Niro said. "I get emotional ... about the whole family,"
"I met John John...I've seen him when he was a little kid and his sister, and I've seen them when they were older in New York...so there's a little history," De Niro said as his voice broke and he blinked back tears. "It's hard for me to say anything else."
The Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform a musical tribute to President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy.
Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris and Cherry Jones will join the orchestra reading quotes from the three brother’s iconic speeches.
The Boston Pops conductor, Keith Lockhart, commissioned composer, Peter Boyer, and lyricist, Lynn Ahrens, to write the tribute. The musical tribute will be preformed a number of times as part of the orchestra’s 125th anniversary session.
Lockhart had been considering the tribute for some time but he thought that Ted Kennedy would play the narrating role. When the senator died last August of brain cancer Lockhart decided it was time to celebrate the Kennedy brothers.
Last fall Lockhart approached Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, about the project. She then got the rest of the family's blessing at Hyannis Port over Thanksgiving.
She gave Lockhart one piece of advice. "Please don't involve us in the creation of it," she said. "If you think the U.S. Senate is bad, you don't want everyone in this family to be deciding which quotes they want to be in the (piece)."
Lockhart traveled to the brother’s graves in Arlington National Cemetery for inspiration.
He said "I stood there for a very long time in front of JFK's grave and the eternal flame just thinking in this freezing January cold and trying to get my head around what I was going to do.
"I actually had a couple of moments where I thought, 'Can you actually do this?"'
Lynn Ahrens put the words selected from famous Kennedy quotes to the music composed by Boyer.
The tribute begins with "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans"
The aim was to give a fresh perspective to the well known words of the Kennedy brothers. Lockhart said that no musical composition of this kind has been done for the Kennedys. The only possible comparison is Aaron Copland’s 1942 Lincoln Portrait.
"I hope the brothers would have been proud of what we are going to do," said Lockhart.
"I only have an idea of what Ted would have thought. Ted loved showmanship, and Ted would have insisted on a singing role.”
Morgan Freeman said he believes the brother’s would be pleased. He said "I bet they are giving each other high fives.”
What is expected to be a very moving multimedia tribute will be a multimedia show intertwining music and video.