Sep 24, 2020
Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, presented as part of PBS’ award-winning American Masters series, documents MTT’s life and career—from his childhood in California to his ascension to the world stage and leadership roles with the New World Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. The documentary sheds light on formative experiences in MTT’s musical life—the central influence of his father, his first time hearing the music of James Brown, his early clashes with classical music orthodoxy—all of which shaped his personality, artistry, and goals along his path to becoming one of America’s most important musical figures.
The film features original interviews with MTT and classical music luminaries, including composer Steve Reich; Los Angeles Philharmonic CEO Chad Smith; pianist Ralph Grierson; Boston Symphony Orchestra CEO Mark Volpe; San Francisco Chronicle music critic Joshua Kosman; the BBC’s former head of music and arts Humphrey Burton; and Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, as well as commentary from world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, with whom MTT collaborated in designing the New World Center, and Joshua Robison, MTT’s husband and partner. The documentary incorporates concert footage from his youth through the present, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony, among other orchestras. The film also includes scenes from MTT’s day-to-day life at the New World Symphony, the postgraduate orchestral academy in Miami Beach that he co-founded in 1987 to prepare young musicians of diverse backgrounds for leadership roles in classical music. Most major American orchestras count New World Symphony alumni among their ranks, and several former Fellows were interviewed for the documentary.
Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is premieres on the American Masters series Friday, October 23 at 9 p.m ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters, and the PBS Video app. In addition to Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, PBS premieres Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony: S&M2, featuring MTT with the iconic heavy metal band, on Thursday, October 29 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).