MTT celebrates 20 years with San Francisco Symphony in 2014/15 season

Feb 24, 2014

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas celebrates 20 years with the San Francisco Symphony in the 2014/15 season, leading the Orchestra in 17 concert weeks at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour. 2014/15 includes a season-long focus on American composers, three new releases on the SFS media label, a Beethoven Festival, MTT’s 70th Birthday Celebration, the debut of the alternative performance series SoundBox, and a United States tour.

Discover the 2014/15 season here.

MTT and the SFS inaugurate the season with an Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, September 3, in an exceptional concert event with singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt performing selected works from the American songbook of her father John Raitt, and pianist Yuja Wang in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The evening will also include a performance of Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, featuring a special video installation by Emily Eckstein.

Season-long focus on American composers

Next season, MTT will lead the San Francisco Symphony in programs that prominently feature the music of American composers, underlining MTT and the Orchestra’s two-decade long collaboration that has taken audiences through two centuries of American music with frequent festivals, commissions, premieres, and three American Mavericks festivals (1996, 2000, 2012). Continuing this emphasis on American composers, MTT conducts the first SFS performances of Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy(September 10-13), Brant’s Ice Field for organ and orchestra (September 18-21), Foss’s Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout for a cappella chorus (September 25-28), Ives’s Three Places in New England (September 25-28), Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence in performances at Davies Symphony Hall (November 8 and on the subsequent two–week United States tour), John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music during the SFS’s week-long celebration of MTT’s 70th birthday (January 16-18), the West Coast premiere of a new work by Cynthia Lee Wong (January 21-23), John Luther Adams’s The Light that Fills the World (chamber version) (February 26-March 1), Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety(May 7-10), Cage’s The Seasons and Renga (May 14-16), and a new work by Samuel Adams May 20-23.

70th Birthday Celebration

On January 15, 2015, musicians of the Orchestra, SFS Chorus, and a leading lineup of keyboard artists gather at Davies Symphony Hall to celebrate MTT’s 70th birthday. The centerpiece of the program features a collaboration among MTT’s keyboard colleagues – Yuja Wang, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Jeremy Denk, and Marc-André Hamelin – in Liszt’s Hexameron for Piano and Orchestra. Additional programming and guests will be announced at a later date. MTT’s week-long birthday celebration also includes concert performances of Grand Pianola Music by John Adams and L’Histoire du Soldat by Stravinsky.

US Tour

In November 2014, MTT and the SFS embark on a six-city US tour, their 32nd together in two decades. To celebrate their 20thAnniversary season, MTT and the Orchestra return to New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Miami’s Arsht Center, as well as the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, and university campuses in Ann Arbor and Princeton. MTT and the SFS’s tour repertory includes Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Gil Shaham), Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (both Suite No. 2 and in complete performance with chorus), Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1.

Beethoven Festival

In a nod to MTT and the Orchestra’s first summer Beethoven Festival together 25 years ago, the 2014-15 season concludes with a three-week exploration (June 10 – 28) that offers audiences new perspectives on some of the composer’s most enduring works through staging and visual design. Each of the three concert weeks focuses on a major hallmark of the composer’s career: Missa solemnis in a semi-staged production conceived by MTT with director/designer Michael Levine and video designer Finn Ross, concert performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio, and the 1808 Vienna Akademie marathon concert that introduced the world to five of the composer’s masterpieces, Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, Fantasy in G minor, Ah! Perfido, the Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus from Mass in C major, and the Choral Fantasy.


In December 2014, MTT and the Orchestra debut a series of intimate musical evenings featuring San Francisco Symphony musicians at SoundBox, a new alternative performance space backstage at Davies Symphony Hall. The series of ten events will feature SFS musicians performing and interacting in a cabaret-style setting enhanced by a state-of-the-art Meyer Constellation sound system.

New recordings on SFS Media

Next season on the SFS Media Label, MTT and the Orchestra will release three new recordings: Mason Bates’s Liquid Interface, Alternative Energy, and The B-Sides; John Adams’s Absolute Jest featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet and his Grand Pianola Music; and, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Emanuel Ax and the German composer’s Mass in C featuring the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor William Burden, and bass-baritone Shenyang.

Explore the 2014/15 season here.

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