After 25 Years, San Francisco’s Maverick Conductor Moves On

Jun 6, 2020

The New York Times
By Anthony Tommasini

“…From the beginning, it has been a remarkable musical marriage. Mr. Thomas presented an American work in each subscription program he led that first season, a bold statement. But he simply saw the role of an American orchestra as championing American music. If that idea now seems standard, it’s in part because of him…”

SF Symphony announces 25-day celebration of Michael Tilson Thomas’ quarter-century as music director

Jun 5, 2020

The San Francisco Chronicle
By Joshua Kosman

“The San Francisco Symphony will devote most of June to a 25-day virtual celebration of Michael Tilson Thomas’s 25 years as the orchestra’s music director. The daily rollout of audio and video selections, titled “MTT25: An Online Tribute,” comes as a substitute for the more extravagant live performances of works by Wagner, Mahler and more that were originally scheduled to conclude his final season with the orchestra but were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic…”

Michael Tilson Thomas was once the ‘bad boy of classical music.’ Now, at 74, he still conducts with childlike delight.

Dec 7, 2019

The Washington Post
By Anne Midgette

“…Thomas calls up a musical score on his computer. It’s a song he wrote for the late jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, though she never sang it. Another comes from a group of settings of poems by Rilke, which will have their premiere at the San Francisco Symphony in January, as part of Thomas’s last season as the orchestra’s music director. In this room, rather than leading music composed by others, Thomas is creating and revising his own.

‘I’ve given them 25 years,’ he says of the San Francisco Symphony. ‘Now it’s my turn.’

MTT, this year one of the artists receiving Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement, is reinventing himself yet again…”

Michael Tilson Thomas, a Disruptor Who’s Become the Comfortable Center

May 3, 2019

By Justin Davidson

“…when Tilson Thomas conducts the young Americans who comprise the New World Symphony, he has to lead them by the hand into a culture that feels ancient, foreign, and immeasurably complex. ‘The cultural surround of the piece, the era it comes from, the Zeitgeist, the kind of place within the human spirit from which the pieces speak — those are all things I have to share with them, and I have to get them to discover those places within themselves.'”

Tilson Thomas leads New World Symphony in music of Tilson Thomas

Apr 21, 2019

South Florida Classical Review
By Lawrence Budmen

“The main event was a repeat performance of Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, Tilson Thomas’ setting of a poem from the 1920′s collection Smoke and Steel by Carl Sandburg. When premiered on the same stage in 2016, the work made a strong impression. With a less elaborate staging on this occasion, the score emerged even more riveting and skillfully crafted. Sandburg’s poem was deeply prescient with its vision and warnings of urban decay. The poet painted a picture of a once-great city now inhabited by crows, rats and lizards.

Tilson Thomas has worked on the score intermittently since the 1960′s. Scored for amplified soprano and two backup singers, chamber orchestra and bar band, the score serves as a microcosm of Tilson Thomas’ musical passions and influences.”

Michael Tilson Thomas on life, the San Francisco Symphony and Beethoven

Mar 21, 2019

Washington Post
Interview by Anne Midgette

“…the question is, so at this particular point in your life, what is the best way of presenting the message of the piece? There are lots of different ways that this music can be done. There’s a way that each person finds to do it that seems authentic to them.” –MTT

Ives’ ‘Holidays’ at the L.A. Phil, but not those holidays

Dec 9, 2018

LA Times
By Mark Swed

“…in a glorious performance, Tilson Thomas incomparably embodied the good cheer and wonder of the season by going beyond specific holidays. Ives’ four separate pieces, written in the first decade of the 20th century, evoked the holidays as the composer remembered them in his New England childhood and in a manner, sentimental yet startlingly pioneering, that remains stylistically flummoxing even a century later.”


Michael Tilson Thomas brings his ‘Playthings’ to the L.A. Phil, and they’re not what you think

Dec 2, 2018

LA Times
By Mark Swed

“…A belting baritone sax, a psychedelic electric guitar, the recorded sound of a cash register, flamboyant percussion, Brueggergosman’s singing — sultry, joyous or gloomy — all provide just the right reactions to Sandburg, word for word, sentiment for sentiment, prophecy for prophecy.”


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