February 5, 2019
News from Michael Tilson Thomas
Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony;
Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony;
Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra
Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony; Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony; Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra
Art Streiber

Perspectives Series Continues at Carnegie Hall

In March, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas returns to New York for performances with the Vienna Philharmonic as part of his 2018–19 Carnegie Hall Perspectives series. The series, which marks MTT’s second time being honored as a Perspectives artist, began in summer 2018 when he led the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America at the hall and on tour to Asia, and continued in the fall when he opened the Carnegie Hall season with the San Francisco Symphony.

The New York Times praised both appearances:

“You didn’t have to make the usual youth orchestra apologies [for the MTT-led NYO-USA]: This was creditable as a richly imagined, fully professional performance.” — Seth Colter Walls

“The entire performance [by MTT and SFS] was riveting, and elicited an exuberant ovation from the audience. Mr. Thomas’s Perspectives series is off to a great start.” — Anthony Tommasini

On Tuesday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m., MTT conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in Ives’s Decoration Day, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring pianist and 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. The next night, on Wednesday, March 6 at 8:00 p.m., he leads the orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth.

MTT conducts these programs at Carnegie Hall after having led the Vienna Philharmonic in both during January. The first concert, Mahler’s Ninth at the Musikverein, was described as a “poetically charged performance” by the Wiener Zeitung, which also said: “At the end, you really didn’t want to believe it was over.”* Following this performance, MTT, the orchestra, and Igor Levit toured the Ives, Beethoven, and Brahms program to Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, and back to Austria at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

The final concerts in his Perspectives series are in May with the New World Symphony, which he has led as Artistic Director since co-founding the organization more than 30 years ago as a training ground for the next generation of classical musicians. He conducts two premieres: the world premiere of an NWS and Carnegie Hall co-commission from Julia Wolfe on Wednesday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. and—at Zankel Hall—the New York premiere of MTT’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. Both programs feature soloist and fellow Perspectives artist Yuja Wang.


Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind

MTT takes his setting of Carl Sandburg’s poem to Zankel Hall after having conducted it last year with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. The Los Angeles Times said:

“Playthings of the wind we may all be, but that’s all the more reason to live it up while we can, and Tilson Thomas lives it up big time. He employs the versatile and theatrical soprano Measha Brueggergosman and two backup singers, all three strutting their stuff in matching silver sequined gowns, a smallish regular orchestra with a wild percussion section, a lavish bar band. … these “Playthings” never leave the impression of a clever combining of different styles and genres. … all provide just the right reactions to Sandburg, word for word, sentiment for sentiment, prophecy for prophecy.” — Mark Swed

The Philadelphia performance was included among The Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Philly’s best classical performances of 2018”:

“Drawing on rock, funk, and the ka-ching! of a cash register, and utilizing Brueggergosmen’s incredible soprano, the piece has continued to resonate with me in the months since this March performance as a remarkably cutting commentary on the deceptively fragile thing that is civilization.” — Peter Dobrin

MTT conducts NWS in the 2016 world premiere of Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, featuring Measha Brueggergosman as lead vocalist.


Winter in Miami Beach with the New World Symphony

At the New World Symphony this February, a busy three weeks of concerts and coaching culminate in MTT conducting a WALLCAST® Concert with guest violinist Christian Tetzlaff on Saturday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. The program includes MTT conducting Ligeti’s Violin Concerto and Dvoƙák’s Symphony No. 8, and a second performance takes place the following afternoon in the concert hall only.

NWS Fellows are coached this month by nearly 20 visiting faculty—mostly orchestra principals—from around the country. Fellows not only benefit from their coaches’ musical insights, but also from their professional experience, which can range from navigating the world of auditions to achieving balance in their professional lives. This month’s visiting faculty arrives from the Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston Symphonies, the Berlin, Calgary, and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as from the faculties of the Juilliard School, University of Miami, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Earlier performances in February include PULSE, NWS’s late-night, club-style concert series; a semi-staged chamber performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs for a Mad King; and contemporary music with conductor / composer Matthias Pintscher and violinist Renaud Capuçon. Further activities at NWS include an MTT-led conducting workshop, a Fellow-led Inside the Music event exploring Puerto Rican folk music, and a Virtual Hangout in which middle- and high-school musicians can interact in real time with NWS Fellows via Facebook Live. Inside the Music and NWS’s Virtual Hangouts may be streamed for free via NWS’s video platform, MUSAIC.


Recent Press Highlights and Additional Upcoming Performances

MTT began his 2018–19 season with concerts at the San Francisco and New World Symphonies, including performances of his 1990 work From the Diary of Anne Frank at Davies Symphony Hall and the launch of the ninth annual WALLCAST® Concert Series at the New World Center. In addition to guest conducting the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein and on tour in Europe (see above), MTT has appeared this season at the podiums of the Chicago Symphony OrchestraLos Angeles Philharmonic, and Orchestre de Paris. Among the praise for these performances are the following:

“The conductor allowed [Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony] to breathe, taking his time between certain phrases and unfurling melodic lines without haste. He also refrained from bombastic fortissimos, drawing a deep well of orchestral tone, the lower strings, especially, sounding as plush as I’ve heard them this season.”

— Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
(Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

“In a glorious performance [of Ives’s Holiday Symphony], Tilson Thomas incomparably embodied the good cheer and wonder of the season … There can be little doubt that Ives, who died in 1954 before his music was widely appreciated, would have been blown away to hear his music performed as it was … [Additionally, in Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Overture-Fantasy” and “Rococo” Variations, MTT] got from the orchestra a sound as rich as the most lavish holiday feast.”

— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
(Los Angeles Philharmonic)

“The charm of Brahms’s Second Symphony as interpreted by [MTT] reconfirmed the magic in his conducting that we heard in Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture at the beginning of the program. … From the opening bars, Brahms lavishes on a sensual texture with round and hot contours, a voluptuous mass of sound that MTT celebrates in all of its detail.”**

— Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde
(Orchestre de Paris)

In addition to performances at Carnegie Hall as part of MTT’s Perspectives series, still to come this season are concerts with the:

San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour across the U.S. — Davies Hall program of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev (concerto with violinist Gil Shaham), and world premiere from Steve Mackey February 7–9; tour programs of Ravel, Mozart (concerto with violinist Christian Tetzlaff), Beethoven, Sibelius, and MTT’s Agnegram starting at Davies Hall March 14–17 and performed March 19–29 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Kansas City’s Kauffman Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Urbana’s Krannert Center, Lincoln’s Lied Center, and Ames’s Iowa State Center

New World Symphony at the New World Center — NWS Gala on March 2; Schubert andFour Preludes on Playthings of the Wind on April 20; Prokofiev (concerto with pianist Yuja Wang), Berlioz, and world premiere from Julia Wolfe on April 26 & 27

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at the Maison symphonique de Montréal — Haydn, Liszt (concerto with pianist George Li), and Bartók on May 22 & 23

London Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall — Cage, Beethoven (concerto with violinist Julia Fischer), and Bartók on May 30; Ives and Beethoven (with pianist Daniil Trifonov) on June 2

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