Playing Bach for Obama

Pete Souza, Official White House Photo


Over the holiday break, fourth-year cellist Khari Joyner got the invitation of a lifetime: a chance to play for President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Having read that Obama is a fan of the Bach cello suites, Joyner played the Prelude to the Sixth Suite. Although the trip, which took place on January 29, was a whirlwind, it was the culmination of a much longer journey. In 2009 Joyner, then 16, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his treatments, he was referred to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and his wish was to meet the president. Flash-forward to 2012—Joyner’s cancer was, thankfully, in remission, but the people from Make-a-Wish “knew I was at Juilliard, and then the idea developed for me to perform for the president,” Joyner told The Journal. The experience was “incredible,” and he got to share it with his family: pictured in the background are Joyner’s dad, his brothers Amyr and Jarin, both accomplished violinists, and his mom. And, of course, in the foreground is the chief executive of the United States, who told Joyner before they left it was “a great way to start the morning.”


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