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Vienna comes to the New World Symphony
January 22, 2013

This weekend violinist Rainer Honeck and cellist Tamás Varga - members of the esteemed Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - join MTT and the New World Symphony as guest soloists on January 26 and 27. Tamás Varga joins MTT and the NWS for Fitzenhagen's Concert Waltzes for Four Cellos, followed by Rainer Honeck in Berg's Violin Concerto. MTT opens the program with Schoenberg's Theme and Variations before rounding out the evening with Schumann's exuberant "Spring" Symphony. Learn more here.

Video: MTT introduces one of his favorite pieces: Three Pieces for Orchestra by Berg

MTT conducts Peer Gynt with San Francisco Symphony
January 14, 2013

On January 17, 18 and 19, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in a semi-staged production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, exploring what MTT calls "a challenging, provocative play filled with questions about life, and love" through music, original video projections, actors and theatrical elements. The program features selections from music written for Peer Gynt by composers of diverse eras and backgrounds: Edward Grieg, Alfred Schnittke, and Robin Holloway. Brought together by a creative team that includes staging by James Darrah and projections by Adam Larsen, the unique program "offer[s] a musical and dramatic snapshot of both music and text," says MTT, and it brings new insight to this Scandinavian classic. 

Learn more & purchase tickets here. 

MTT to guest on A Prairie Home Companion Saturday, January 5
January 3, 2013
This Saturday, January 5, MIchael Tilson Thomas guests on  A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. The live broadcast performance takes place at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House and will feature special guest Elvin Bishop along with the Royal Academy of Radio Actors Tim Russell, Sue Scott, Fred Newman, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band. 
 
All-French program with San Francisco Symphony & Renée Fleming
December 31, 2012

As the New Year approaches, Michael Tilson Thomas looks ahead to his first performances of 2013 with the San Francisco Symphony: an all-French program with Renée Fleming, who sings the world premiere of Robert Holloway's arrangement of Debussy's Ariettes oubliées. The American soprano will also perform selections from Canteloube's collection of folk songs Chants d'Auvergne. MTT's' concerts on January 10, 12 and 13 with the SFS will also include Debussy's poème dansé Jeux, the waltz La Plus que lente, and La mer.
 
Learn more & purchase tickets here.

MTT & San Francisco Symphony celebrate opening of Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall
December 17, 2012

On January 11, 2013, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony celebrate the opening of Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University with an inaugural concert that features mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. The program showcases music by American composers, with works such John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Harrison's "The Family of the Court" from Pacifica Rondo, and Bernstein's Take Care of This House, performed with Frederica von Stade. MTT and the Orchestra also present Debussy's La mer.

The evening also sees performances by Haydn's String Quartet in F by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the University's ensemble in residence; a choral dedication with the Stanford Chamber Chorale and students from the Stanford Philharmonia; and a processional by Stanford Taiko, a student performing ensemble devoted to the art of Japanese drumming.

Learn more & purchase tickets here. 

A John Cage Centennial Celebration
December 12, 2012

Cage genuinely wanted to open up the beauteous experience of sound for everyone. Much of his work could be described as kits to be used tin the creation of a performance that relies on the perceptions, imaginations and choices of the musicians. It was a spiritual mission for him to create the opportunity for the performance to exist while at the same time to interfere with it as little or as subtly as possible.

-Michael Tilson Thomas, letter to the editor, New York Times 

John Cage was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. To mark the centenary of his birth, Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony will present Making the Right Choices: A John Cage Centennial Celebration from February 8 to 10 at the New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida.

Three theatrically enhanced performances - in addition to film screenings, panel discussions and readings - will trace the transformation in Cage's methods as a composer from his early, elegant and specifically noted choices of sounds to later existential situations in which he allowed the performers enormous freedom. 

The festival will feature artists such as new-music vocalists Joan La Barbara and Meredith Monk, soprano Jessye Norman, pianist Marc-André Hamelin and dancers from New World School for the Arts performing choreography by Merce Cunningham.

Explore the world of John Cage  - be part of the Making the Right Choices festival. 

Video: MTT introduces and performs Cage's Aria with Renga with soprano Measha Brueggergosman

Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto and Pandora World Premiere
December 3, 2012

On the heels of their Asian tour, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony return to California with a musical program that features Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto performed by Yefim Bronfman and the world premiere of Mark Volkert's Pandora. MTT and the Orchestra open their concerts with Strauss's tone poem Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, which is followed by the debut performances of Pandora by SFS Assistant Concertmaster Mark Volkert. The composition, for orchestral strings, was written in 2010 and carries the dedication: "For Michael Tilson Thomas and the strings of the San Francisco Symphony with great admiration." Yefim Bronfman joins the Orchestra for Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, "Emperor."

Performances take place December 5, 7, and 8 at Davies Symphony Hall and December 6 at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University - the Orchestra's debut there.

American Mavericks album now available
November 13, 2012
"Other orchestras hardly touch this music, but in San Francisco it has become standard fare, and the authority of the playing was staggering."
- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

The latest release from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony features live recordings from the SFS's highly acclaimed American Mavericks festival. The album, presented in premium audio hybrid SACD, includes Henry Cowell's  Synchrony and his Piano Concerto (Jeremy Denk, piano), Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra (Paul Jacobs, organ)  and Edgard Varèse's  Amériques

Order the album here.

MTT & San Francisco Symphony embark on Asia tour
November 5, 2012

MTT and the San Francisco Symphony cross the Pacific this November, embarking on a six-city, ten-concert Asian tour that sees the Orchestra's debut in Beijing (November 16) and return performances in Hong Kong (November 8 & 9), Taipei (November 10 & 11), Shanghai (November 14 & 15), Beijing (November 16) and Tokyo (November  19 & 20). The tour opens November 7 with the Orchestra's debut at the Macau Cultural Center.

Pianist Yuja Wang, a native of Beijing, joins MTT and the Orchestra as soloist in all six cities on the tour, performing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2. MTT will also conduct the Orchestra in performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 5, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, and music by three American composers: John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Lou Harrison's "The Family of the Court" from Pacifika Rondo and Henry Cowell's Music 1957.

Education and Outreach

MTT and the San Francisco Symphony have planned a variety of educational and outreach activities in China. MTT and the SFS musicians will lead a day of master classes with students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music on November 13. The SFS Music Director will also lead a master class in conducting for Conservatory students and conduct the Shanghai Conservatory Youth Symphony musicians. 

Yuja Wang & Lang Lang Perform Russian Piano Masterworks at Davies Symphony Hall
October 26, 2012

Pianists Lang Lang and Yuja Wang will join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for a week of concerts featuring two performances each of Russian piano masterworks, beginning October 27. Yuja Wang, who will tour Asia with the SFS in November, performs Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini  October 27 and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 October 31 at Davies Symphony Hall. On November 1 and 2, Lang Lang will perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3.

With these concerts, MTT and the SFS preview music that they perform on tour, including Mahler's Symphony No. 5, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, Lou Harrison's "The Family of the Court" from Pacifika Rondo and Henry Cowell's Music 1957.

Yuja Wang performs the Scherzo from Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. 

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