Carnegie Hall Presents We Chose to Go to the Moon in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Historic Apollo 11 Mission on Tuesday, July 16 and Saturday, July 20 in Zankel Hall
Historian and Narrator John Monsky Captures Excitement of Monumental Milestone With Storytelling, Music, Powerful Footage, and Iconic Photos As Part of Groundbreaking American History Unbound Series
(March 20, 2019; NEW YORK, NY)—— Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Carnegie Hall presents two performances of We Chose to Go to the Moon—a music and multimedia presentation that reignites the unforgettable moments of the historic mission—on Tuesday evening, July 16 and Saturday evening, July 20 in Zankel Hall, created and narrated by historian John Monsky.
On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first people to ever land on the moon. The moment when Armstrong took the first moon walk will be forever remembered as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo 11 landing took place eight years after President John F. Kennedy first challenged the country to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, conquering space as a new frontier. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win..." he later said in 1962.
With these two upcoming performances, presented fifty years to the exact day when Apollo 11 launched into space, and also on the exact date when it landed, John Monsky returns to Zankel Hall to bring to life the incredible risks, excitement and drama in the tension-filled mission control room, as well as the anxiety and excitement of the lunar landing, during one of the most turbulent decades in American history.
Following his sold out 2018 performance of The Vietnam War: At Home and Abroad at Carnegie Hall, Monsky now presents this next installment of his captivating American History Unbound series. We Chose to Go to the Moon showcases Monsky’s remarkable ability to unify music, narration, and multimedia to create an immersive experience for audience members. The program features performances by leading Broadway singers Adam Kantor (The Band’s Visit), Shonica Gooden (Hamilton) and Crystal Kellogg (School of Rock), collaborating with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and conducted by Kimberly Grigsby (Music Director, Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird). With musical selections inspired by America’s race to space—including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Alexander Courage’s theme from Star Trek, favorites by Paul Simon and Elton John, and more—the program features rare footage from NASA, including iconic photographs and archival interviews with astronauts and their families. Tickets for the July 16 and 20 performances are on sale now.
“The story of the space race isn’t just about going to the moon; it’s about what was happening on the ground too, during one of the most tumultuous times in America’s history. Carnegie Hall is an incredible platform to highlight the sacrifices of the astronauts’ wives and their families, the brilliance of the engineers in the mission control, and the female “computers” and “hidden figures” at the same time Neil Armstrong was taking his giant steps,” says John Monsky.
“John Monsky is a great storyteller with a special ability to combine music, visual images and film in a way that is magical and very emotional,” says Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson. “We were deeply moved by John’s stunning depiction of the Vietnam War in 2018, and greatly look forward to his return this summer as he brings audiences along with him, capturing the excitement and spirit of the moon landing in this next edition of his series at Carnegie Hall.”
About John Monsky and American History Unbound Series
John Monsky is an historian, writer, producer, lecturer and lawyer. American History Unbound, his innovative series of multimedia productions, was developed at the New-York Historical Society, and the first installment, The Vietnam War: At Home and Abroad, was presented at Carnegie Hall in 2018, as part The ‘60s: The Years That Changed America, a citywide festival inspired by historian Robert Caro. The series, exploring watershed moments in American history, combines live music performed by celebrated Broadway actors and a full orchestra, incorporating film, photography, historic flags and material culture from Monsky’s personal collection. Narrated by Monsky with a script often inspired by his own memories and observations, each production includes powerful examinations of singular and pivotal events—from the Revolutionary War and Civil War to D-Day—turning points in history that changed America.
Decades ago, Monsky’s mother bought her 12-year-old son his first “flag,” a red kerchief (an artifact from Theodore Roosevelt’s unsuccessful 1912 presidential bid), to appease his boredom while on a routine shopping outing. Today, his collection of flags and textiles—tangible artifacts that connect us to our history—has become one of the finest in the country. As his collection grew, so did annual Flag Day presentations held in Monsky’s own apartment. As the events grew larger in scope—adding bands and Broadway singers to accent his talks—they eventually required portal-widening-living-room-construction to accommodate friends and family, all riveted by Monsky’s storytelling. Sought-after invitations to these informal gatherings attracted the attention of The New Yorker in 2012, when Monsky took a second look at the War of 1812, with a presentation that included the commissioning pennant from the great wooden frigate, the USS Constitution. Louise Mirrer, the CEO and President of the New-York Historical Society, where Monsky is a trustee, recalled, “I attended the Flag Day celebrations and was absolutely dazzled. One of those years after viewing…a really exceptional explication of history, I said to John, ‘you know, you should do that in our auditorium.’” She has since called his D-day production “the most moving event ever presented on the Society’s stage.”
Monsky graduated from Yale College as a history major, where he was awarded the White Prize in History and the Deforest Oratory Prize. After attending Harvard Law School and working as a law clerk, he served as an attorney for the US Senate Congressional Committee that was investigating the Iran Contra Affair. When not collecting historic flags or researching his stories, Monsky’s day job is at Oak Hill Capital, an investment firm, where he serves as partner and general counsel. He and his wife live in New York City with their four children and two dogs, Flag and Flyer.
Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
WE CHOSE TO GO TO THE MOON
John Monsky, Creator and Narrator
Orchestra of St. Luke's
Kimberly Grigsby, Conductor
Shonica Gooden, Vocalist
Adam Kantor, Vocalist
Crystal Kellogg, Vocalist
Mike Boschen, Trombone
Ben Butler, Guitar
Jon Epcar, Drums
Richard Hammond, Bass
Aaron Heick, Saxophone and Woodwinds
Tony Kadleck, Trumpet
Jon Owens, Trumpet
Billy Jay Stein, Piano
APOLLO 11's 50TH ANNIVERSARY
Program to include:
JAMES HORNER "All Systems Go / The Launch" from Apollo 13
BART HOWARD "Fly Me to the Moon"
PHARRELL WILLIAMS / KIRK FRANKLIN "I See a Victory" from Hidden Figures
ROGER MCGUINN "Mr. Spaceman"
DAVID BOWIE "Space Oddity"
PAUL SIMON "The Sound of Silence"
RICHARD STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
JOHN FOGERTY "Bad Moon Rising"
DAVID BOWIE "Young Americans"
ELTON JOHN / BERNIE TAUPIN "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)"
JAMES HORNER Main Title from Apollo 13
ALAN SILVESTRI "I Believe Her" from Contact
ALEXANDER COURAGE Theme from Star Trek
HUGO MONTENEGRO / BUDDY KAYE "Jeannie" from I Dream of Jeannie
Presented by Carnegie Hall in association with the New-York Historical Society and MAX live arts.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Tickets, priced at $38 and $45 are now on sale at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.
For more information on Carnegie Hall discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts. Artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.
Public Relations Office
Monday–Friday, 9:30 AM–5:30 PM
Read about concerts, education and social impact programs, and special events.
In-depth press kits are available for a number of programs.
We provide artist, hall, and performance images to the media upon request.
Ticket and Media Guidelines
Are you a journalist seeking press tickets or an interview? Get answers.