Michael Tilson Thomas


Michael Tilson Thomas is Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra.  As a guest conductor, he works with the world's leading orchestras, including the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has won eleven Grammys for his recordings, is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts (the highest honour for artistic excellence in the United States), which was presented to him by President Barack Obama, and is a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

This is for information only and should not be reproduced. Please contact Phillippa Cole for a programme biography. 

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Media Player


  • Michael Tilson Thomas & Steve Reich discuss Four Organs


Kentucky Center for Performing Arts, LOUISVILLE

BERNSTEIN Three Dance Episodes from 'On the Town'
COPLAND Orchestral Variations
BATES 'Greeting Prelude' (New Commission)
ADAMS 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine'


COPLAND 'Our Town'
GERSHWIN 'An American in Paris'
GERSHWIN 'Promenade' ('Walking the Dog')

Teddy Abrams
Louisville Orchestra

New World Center, MIAMI

The Side-by-Side Concert is an extraordinary opportunity for young instrumentalists (grades 7-12) to perform alongside the Fellows of the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

New World Symphony

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Founded by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Keeping Score provides innovative, thought-provoking classical music content on PBS television, the radio, the web, and through an education program, a national model for classroom arts integration for teachers.

Through nine one-hour documentaries, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony trace the lives of eight influential composers from around the world. Michael Tilson Thomas explores the motivations and influences behind major classical works by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Copland, Stravinsky, Berlioz, Ives, Shostakovich, and Mahler. Each episode is accompanied by a one-hour concert program by the San Francisco Symphony.

For more information please visit the Keeping Score website.

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About MTT

Michael Tilson Thomas is Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. Born in Los Angeles, he is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures.

Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California where he studied piano with John Crown and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At the age of nineteen he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts. During this same period he was the pianist and conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz.

He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 1995 and, as Conductor Laureate, he continues a regular relationship with the ensemble. He also regularly appears with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.

His recorded repertoire of more than 125 discs includes works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage, Ingolf Dahl, Morton Feldman, George Gershwin, John McLaughlin and Elvis Costello. His recent recordings with SFS Media with the San Francisco Symphony include the complete orchestral works of Gustav Mahler, West Side Story, and orchestral works by Debussy.

Mr. Tilson Thomas’s television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, the television broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977 and numerous productions on PBS Great Performances. Mr. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony produced a multi-tiered media project, Keeping Score.

In February 1988 he inaugurated the New World Symphony, an orchestral academy for graduates of prestigious music programs. In addition to their regular season in Miami Beach, they have toured internationally. In 1991 Mr. Tilson Thomas and the orchestra were presented in a series of benefit concerts for UNICEF in the United States, featuring Audrey Hepburn as narrator of From the Diary of Anne Frank, composed by Mr. Tilson Thomas and commissioned by UNICEF. This piece has since been translated and performed in many languages worldwide. In 2010 the New World Symphony moved into their new campus designed by Frank Gehry.

His twenty-one tenure as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony has been broadly covered by the international press. With the San Francisco Symphony he has made thirty-four tours of Europe, the United States and the Far East. In addition to the regular season, they have presented many festivals including ones devoted to the music of Mahler, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Wagner and American Mavericks.

Mr. Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, Gramophone Magazine’s Artist of the Year and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has won eleven Grammy Awards for his recordings. In 2008 he received the Peabody Award for his radio series for SFS Media, The MTT Files. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.



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4 February 2017

New World Symphony Orchestra, New World Center, Miami

"Tilson Thomas’ immaculate and supple detailing and instrumental balance drew out Webern’s delicate orchestral colors. The concluding fade-out of harp and celesta was exquisitely assayed.  ...  Tilson Thomas brought Viennese lushness and shrieking power to Berg’s dramatic writing with the orchestra playing in peak form. ...  Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C Major (The “Great”) was dubbed a “symphony of heavenly length” by Robert Schumann but there was nothing long-winded about Tilson Thomas’ performance. ... Tilson Thomas’ taut tempo was quite exhilarating. ... With Tilson Thomas at his interpretive best, the music of both Viennese schools was vividly brought to life."
Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review, 5 February 2017


Debussy: Images, Jeux, etc

San Francisco Symphony

"These new versions, though, with the bonus of Debussy’s own orchestral arrangement of his piano piece La Plus Que Lente, not only benefit from superlative state-of-the-art sound but from the astonishing rapport that Tilson Thomas has developed with the San Francisco orchestra during his 20 years as its music director."
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 8 December 2016


San Francisco Symphony/September 2016

San Francisco Symphony/Davies Hall

"Haydn’s Symphony No. 69 in C, subtitled “Laudon,” began the evening in a burst of sheer exuberance."

"With the onset of the scherzo (Beethoven Symphony no.5), though..things got real in a hurry. The coiled tension in that movement verged on the unbearable, and the potent blasts of the brass — arriving on the scene to herald the finale like some gleaming rescue squad — brought a flood of relief."

"In between comes the heart of this wonderful symphony — an extended, ruminative dance that keeps shifting emphasis and tone in an elusive play of harmony and color. The orchestra’s rendition was well-nigh perfect."

San Francisco Chronicle/Joshua Kosman

Steve Reich

Celebratory Concert of Steve Reich

San Francisco Symphony/Davies Hall September 2016

"We were something like three minutes into the Steve Reich concert when the ecstasy began to take hold."

"The concert was presented by the San Francisco Symphony, with Michael Tilson Thomas — who has been an ardent and impassioned champion of Reich’s music for more than 40 years — serving as the genial emcee."

"And there was a gorgeous and touching surprise addition to the program, as these two longtime collaborators took the stage to perform Reich’s simple yet fertile rhythmic etude, “Clapping Music.” It was not the most disciplined rendition you’ll ever hear, but it had the warmth and easygoing charm of two old friends swapping yarns on a porch — which, in its way, was not too far from the truth."

SFS Chronicle/Joshua Kosman
"Celebration was the order of the day in this all-Reich concert marking the great American composer’s 80th birthday. With Tilson Thomas acting as congenial host, the predominant mood was one of exuberance."

"There was one unannounced performance: Partway through the program. Reich and Tilson Thomas came onstage and sat side by side to perform the composer’s “Clapping Music.” Scored for four hands clapping, it was quintessential Reich: fast, propulsive, and rhythmically engaging, it made a terrific bonus track to a memorable evening."

The Mercury News/Georgia Rowe


Season Opening Gala 8th September 2016

San Francisco Symphony/Davies Hall

"Wednesday’s sleekly enjoyable program suggested that Thomas has this treacherous genre down to a science."

"Steve Reich...was on hand to hear Thomas lead the orchestra in a fluid, strong-boned rendition of his “Three Movements.” And the overture to Rossini’s “William Tell” — which may be the best 10-minute encapsulation there is of that composer’s extraordinary creative genius — opened the program in a performance of vigor and grace."

"There was something, in other words, for everyone, and all of it done splendidly. Let me take a moment to kiss my fingers like a French chef."

"But the part of the evening that inspired the most anticipation for the season to come was the Rossini, delivered with a wonderful blend of clarity and dramatic vigor...Thomas lent the performance much-needed depth. This was the kind of music making that lingers on after the confetti has all been cleared away."

San Francisco Chronicle/Joshua Kosman


On the Town

Davies Hall San Francisco (May/June 2016)

"What Michael Tilson Thomas and a cast of wonderfully gifted singers have created is nothing less than a bolt of pure concentrated euphoria, one of the zippiest and most delightful theatrical presentations the Symphony has put forward in years — and yes, that includes the previous “On the Town” from 20 years back, which marked the first U.S. performances of the uncut score.On Wednesday, Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy, hyperventilating music sounded even more brilliant and expansive than ever."

"What came through most strikingly in Thomas’ lively, loosey-goosey conducting was the way Bernstein’s rhythmic palette takes its cues from the rhythms of an urban landscape — the jolts of the subway, the breathless energy of the crowds — being gulped up whole."

"In a performance this sure-footed, you can feel all the work’s emotional cross-currents in their full richness.That sure-footedness was a result of Thomas’ remarkable gifts — not witnessed here quite often enough — as a theatrical conductor, and of the vivacious, rhythmically alert work by the Symphony players."

Joshua Kosman/SFGate
"What worked most of all was Tilson Thomas’ conducting. This is what you could never get on Broadway. He found the richest implications in Bernstein’s orchestral writing, whether jazz or neo-Prokofiev. Who knew that there were even Mahlerian echoes in a score written long before Bernstein had ever conducted Mahler?"
"It has always seemed impossible, even for Bernstein, for it all be to be taken together, as Tilson Thomas’ latest “On the Town” finally does. His inspiration was in inviting the leads from the excellent cast of singers and dancers in the 2014 revival that ran on Broadway."

LA Times/Mark Swed
"...his (Tilson Thomas's) semi-staged ventures into musical theatre have generated some of the conductor’s greatest triumphs with the orchestra; nobody can forget his seismic Britten centennial Peter Grimes. More commercial musical projects, especially those composed by Tilson Thomas’s mentor, Leonard Bernstein, have inspired a particularly acute response."
"Hearing Tilson Thomas conduct the many dance episodes in the score with a lushness and urgency you do not hear from the standard Broadway pit orchestra may have well been the most cherishable element of the evening."

The Financial Times/Allan Ulrich
"Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony made the point with considerable style and flair Wednesday evening at Davies Symphony Hall, reviving Leonard Bernstein's exuberant 1944 musical in a semistaged production that felt about as fully realized as this great American classic can get."
"At Wednesday's performance, which repeats through Sunday afternoon, Tilson Thomas was at the center of a production distinguished by dazzling musical episodes. Leading a well-calibrated orchestra and a cast comprised of principals from the show's 2014 Broadway revival, a handful of opera artists and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the conductor brought the show's thrilling dance sequences, jazzy interludes, comic songs and wistful ballads into high relief, savoring every rhythmic nuance and snappy turn of phrase along the way."

Mercury News/Georgia Rowe
"The orchestra performed the score splendidly, capturing the music’s jazz-inflected verve, balladic sweetness, and parodic slants
On the Town, with its Aristotelian unities of place and time, is both eternal and evanescent, timeless and completely of its era, with wartime America in a desperate, exuberant embrace of the unknown.Wednesday’s San Francisco Symphony performance caught a wide swatch of all that. For Thomas it was another proud instance of stretching the envelope and proving what an orchestra can do when it thinks big and tries the improbable."

SF Classical Voice/Steven Winn
"The great luxury of seeing this musical at the symphony is, of course, hearing the music (including a number usually cut). It’s rare for musicals to be played by full orchestras, especially of this caliber, and Bernstein’s rich writing shines in such a setting. The songs range from classical to jazzy in style, with lots of opportunities for the brass of the San Francisco Symphony to show off their sturdy tone and impeccable timing...conductor Michael Tilson Thomas kept the pace dramatic and the sections well coordinated. The long orchestral introduction to Coney Island in the second act was especially masterful, with a catchy beat handed off cleanly between the brass, percussion, and strings."
"This is one helluva show!"

Bachtrack/Ilana Walder
"Anchors Aweigh! When does a Broadway show get a pit band made up of first-class symphony musicians? Easy answer: when Michael Tilson Thomas produces the show with the San Francisco Symphony.  "
"With MTT at the helm, the starry cast of singer-dancers, and the orchestra playing with lush and vibrant sound, the show scores on all counts, and the chorus, all wearing sailor hats, sings lustily and obviously enjoys their foray onto the Great White Way."

Bay City News/Caroline Crawford


Das Lied von der Erde

Davies Hall San Francisco

"Tilson Thomas’s own 2007 recording of Das Lied, as it happens, is one of the most moving on record – perhaps the best performance of all in his massive “Mahler Project” – and that was reason enough to trek up to San Francisco to hear him tackle it again at Davies Hall with the San Francisco Symphony Apr. 6."
"Everything was painstakingly inflected, the rhythms swung firmly, the introverted passages flowed lushly and deeply with dark undercurrents, the SFS made a glorious, minutely-controlled helter-skelter out of the central escapade of “Von der Schönheit.”"
"She (Sasha Cook) grew even more impassioned and commanding as “Der Abschied” unfolded, with MTT hurtling headlong through the more emotional passages without spilling over into schmaltz, making a marvelously suspenseful transition into the final magical stanza."
"And there, in the final repeated words, “Ewig … ewig,” Cooke and Tilson Thomas levitated ever higher, drawing the music out to such an otherworldly degree...You can’t say anything after such a performance, and shouldn’t even try. Just walk out into the unseasonably warm San Franciscan night, caught in Mahler’s grip."

Classical Voice America/Richard S. Ginell

Copland / Schumann

01 April 2016

San Francisco Symphony


"Michael Tilson Thomas conducted Copland and Schumann with startling panache."

"The Symphony No. 2 is the penultimate entry in Tilson Thomas’s traversal of the Schumann cycle (recorded live) and the one that offers most pitfalls for the interpreter, but the conductor’s intellectual and technical grasp yielded a pulsing, inspired reading. Details that seem diffuse in other hands reacquired their place in Schumann’s scheme. The orchestral textures and the voicing were models of clarity, dynamics were astutely judged, while the conductor let the supreme lyricism of the Adagio unfurl almost organically. The East Coast has a treat in store."

The Financial Times/Allan Ulrich

Soundbox 26/3/2016

Davies Hall San Francisco

"With Tilson Thomas guiding the audience on a path from Gregorian chant to Latin Samba, it was an engaging lineup, just the kind of musical tasting menu that this conductor excels at serving up. His musical insights and amusing asides, delivered with a showman's verve, illuminated each piece."

"Tilson Thomas led an instrumental ensemble in a zesty performance ...(of Les Elemens by Rebel) on the main stage..."

"Tilson Thomas introduced Olivier Messiaen's "Couleurs de la cite celeste" (Colors of the celestial city), calling it "a rain forest of a piece" and launching an energized reading of the French composer's score. With Orion Weiss as the excellent piano soloist, the orchestra's percussionists, playing bells, gongs, drums, and mallet instruments, made the most of the work's musical depictions of nature, birdsong, and colors linked to sound. It was thrillingly vibrant, at once otherworldly and down to earth."

Contra Costa Times/Georgia Rowe

BBC Proms 2015

Royal Albert Hall


SCHOENBERG  Theme and Variations for Orchestra
COWELL Piano Concerto (Jeremy Denk)
MAHLER Symphony No. 1

"It was Mahler’s First Symphony that showcased the rapport this conductor and orchestra have built up during Tilson Thomas’s 20 years as music director. The melodic lines tumbled out in one long, easy flow, the violins sounding sweet, the trumpets very prominent from their position above the rest, but still part of the blend. There was no grandeur, no posturing in Tilson Thomas’s interpretation, unless you count a slight underlining of the radiant final climax; the second movement had an unforced boisterousness, and the funeral march of the third dissolved into a series of tender, half-remembered songs. No west coast brashness here, just a golden, late-summer, Californian glow."

The Guardian/Erica Jeal

SCHOENBERG  Theme and Variations for Orchestra
COWELL Piano Concerto (Jeremy Denk)
MAHLER Symphony No. 1

"Pianist Jeremy Denk and the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas’s direction gave this work (Cowell's Piano Concerto) the best possible run, and it really is extraordinary. One might have expected the result to be shambolic, but the reverse was the case: with the orchestra playing tonally and the piano in seeming opposition, the result was a highly organised and strikingly lyrical work."

"This was the first of two Proms by the San Francisco Symphony, who further showed their mettle with Schoenberg’s deceptively subtle Theme and Variations Opus 43b and with a heart-warmingly resonant performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 1."

The Independent/Michael Church

IVES Decoration Day
BARTOK Piano Concerto No 2 (Yuja Wang)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 

"Michael Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco players opened their second Prom with an American classic: Charles Ives’s Decoration Day... Its overall mood is one of ruminative, misty-eyed nostalgia – something perfectly captured in this sensitive performance, as notable for the unflawed sheen of the San Francisco string tone as for the delicacy and distinctive character of the many small solos offered up by the woodwind and brass."

"Once David Wallis Reeves’s showbizzy Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March got under way, Tilson Thomas was in his element, as he was, too, leading the orchestra through the vibrant, complex and often fiercely modernist gestures of Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto."

The Guardian/George Hall

Edinburgh Festival 2015

Usher Hall


SCHOENBERG Theme and Variations for Orchestra
J. ADAMS Absolute Jest (SLSQ) 
MAHLER Symphony No. 1

"One almost needs sunglasses when listening to the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) as their distinctive sound is so bright and dazzling. Together with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the orchestra delivered a superlative reading of Mahler’s Symphony No 1 with the horn and trumpet sections easily stealing the show. The highlight though was the funereal transformation of the children’s song, Frère Jacques into the minor key making for a sinister “round” that eerily drifted through the different sections of the orchestra."


IVES  Decoration Day
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto no. 4 (Yuja Wang) 
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

"After 20 years at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas commands his players like the long-standing captain of a great ocean liner.The quality of orchestral sound, from the burnished unanimity of the strings to the distinctive piquancy and precision of the wind and brass, was to die for. And it allowed Tilson Thomas to shape the frenetic spirit of the Ives with an intoxicating mix of impressionistic beauty and crisp explosions of colour and wit."

The Scotsman/Ken Walton


Missa Solemnis (semi-staged), June 2015

Davies Symphony Hall

"The orchestra sounded great: lithe, responsive to Tilson Thomas’s eager gestures, as lights pulsed and glowed in response overhead." Washington Post, Anne Midgette, 13 June 2015
"The greatness of Michael Tilson Thomas’ multimedia treatment of the “Missa,” which he introduced to local audiences in a largely thrilling San Francisco Symphony concert Wednesday night, lies in the expansive cunning with which he opens out those strands for the listener. By deploying the full expanse of Davies Symphony Hall and ingeniously redistributing some of the vocal assignments, Thomas injects a wonderful sense of spaciousness into the Beethovenian landscape. Add to that a performance of fervor and power by the orchestra and a superb army of choral and solo singers, and the result was an evening whose finest moments cast new light on a work that can too often seem daunting"
San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman, 11 June 2015

JOHN CAGE tribute: 16 May 2015

MTT / San Francisco Symphony

"San Francisco Symphony interprets John Cage, with great results" Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed, 17 May 2015
"Michael Tilson Thomas led a celebration of the work of the master of musical provocation" Financial Times, Allan Ulrich, 18 May 2015

New World Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

Carnegie Hall, New York

"The New World Symphony, a wonderful collection of youthful musicians training for symphonic careers, brought a long, uncompromisingly arduous programme to Carnegie Hall on Tuesday. Obviously inspired by a pair of superstars on duty — Michael Tilson Thomas and Anne-Sophie Mutter — the players reaped ovations at the close of every movement. Happiness reigned on both sides of the stage apron."
To read the full review please click the link below
Financial Times, Martin Bernheimer, 29 April 2015

MTT & London Symphony Orchestra

Tour of USA

"They’re having fun, too — I haven’t seen an orchestra enjoy itself like this in some time." David Allen, New York Times, 19 March 2015
While some may dread reaching the age of 70, Michael Tilson Thomas apparently revels in it. After all, this, for most conductors, is early middle age. Mr. Tilson Thomas in particular has expanded his Biblical “three score and ten” into three-thousand scores and more. The conductor has become the master of so many styles that each performance is like a new revelation." Harry Rolnick, ConcertoNet.com, 19 March 2015

MTT's 70th Birthday Concerts in London

London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall

"Michael Tilson Thomas is in town to celebrate his 70th birthday. And he's with old friends – he’s been working with the London Symphony since 1970, including six years as principal conductor." Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk, 13 March 2015
"No British orchestra can mimic an American accent as well as the LSO. In the first half of last night’s concert, led by American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, that talent for sassiness and full-throated expressiveness was fully displayed. The second was at the opposite pole, tragic and weighty, a contrast so brutal that even a 20-minute interval couldn’t soften it." Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 13 March 2015
"Ahead of its US tour with Michael Tilson Thomas, the London Symphony Orchestra flexed its muscles in a display of orchestral strength on home turf in the Barbican." Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack.com, 16 March 2015


MTT in conversation with Mark Pullinger

Playing the hall like an instrument: MTT on life and touring with the LSO. Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack, 8 March 2015


Wall Street Journal, David Mermelstein

At 70, the Beat Goes On
In mentoring, outreach and repertoire, Michael Tilson Thomas believes in inclusiveness...
Please click the link to read the full article
David Mermelstein, Wall Street Journal, 3 February 2015

MTT's 70th Birthday Concert

Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco

"These are the rewards of a life in music: Hit a milestone birthday, and some of the greatest artists in the world will turn out to serenade you.
At least, that’s what happens if you’re Michael Tilson Thomas, who turned 70 in December and celebrated on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall surrounded by a crush of eager musical collaborators Thursday night."
Please click the link to read the full review
San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman, 16 January 2015
"A message from President Obama wished MTT 'and everyone celebrating with you the very best for an enjoyable evening,' and it was realized raucously and memorably.
Please click the link to read the full article SF Examiner, Janos Gereben, 16 January 2015
"Among the many gifts he has showered on this orchestra over his 20 years as music director, Tilson Thomas’ wit and sense of humor, both personally and musically, were on full display in front of a sold-out house."
Please click the link to read the full article.
SF Classical Voice, Steven Winn, 21 January 2015


Gramophone, January 2015

"Maverick Tilson Thomas" 
To read the full article, please click the link below
Gramophone, Richard S. Ginell, January 2015


Missa Solemnis, January 2015

Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Hall

"For Michael Tilson Thomas, it all started right here in Los Angeles...So it’s no surprise that he chose his hometown to launch what promises to be an audacious 70th birthday year with one of his more audacious projects, a semistaged reimagining of Beethoven’s mighty, complex – some say impenetrable – Missa Solemnis at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Jan. 9.
To read the full article please follow the link below
Musical America, Richard S. Ginell, 12 January 2015
"Tilson Thomas emphasized transparent orchestral textures. He maintained a subtle, fluid approach to rhythm, illuminating Beethoven's flowing syncopations as if precursors to jazz and John Adams. He used the Disney acoustics to great advantage, with varied placements of singers and instrumentalists. He conducted with lightening speed."
To read the full article please click the link below.
Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed, 11 January 2015

Interview in Miami Herald

with Jane Wooldridge

"The Maestro in Miami: Though he will soon turn 70, New World Symphony Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas is playing for the future"
Please click the link below to read the article, which starts on page 150  Miami Herald INDULGE, Jane Wooldridge, January 2015

SoundBox concerts

Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco

"And just like that, San Francisco has a superb new performance venue for music.  Saturday night’s tremendous opening event of SoundBox — the term does double duty for the space itself, in the rear of Davies Symphony Hall, and the concert series that the San Francisco Symphony has installed in it — was as exciting for what it offered as for what it promised."
Please click the link to read the full article. San Francisco Chronicle / Joshua Kosman / 14 December 2014
"The classical music establishment has been wringing its hands for years, trying to figure out how to attract younger audiences.
They can stop now. Michael Tilson Thomas has found the solution."
Please click the link to read the full article. San Jose Mercury News, Georgia Rowe, 14 December 2014
"The inaugural SoundBox presentation last weekend suggested that even habitués of the conventional concert experience will find much to engross them in the project. The planners have converted a drab rehearsal hall into an environment awash in video projections and surround sound, a room where banquettes and an open bar, two stages and multiple intermissions propose a more casual, if no less significant musical adventure than usual. The entrance, humming with John Cage’s amplified plants, prepared us for the unclassifiable."
Please click the link to read the full article.  Financial Times, Allan Ulrich, 15 December 2014
"SoundBox succeeds on every level, both demographically and artistically. The brainchild of Symphony music director and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, it’s simultaneously a concert series, warehouse party, experimental workshop, nightclub and sound immersion. It takes classical music from all eras and presents it squarely in the modern day, with cocktails, freedom to wander about and phone and tablet use encouraged. It’s the most comfortable way for many to experience classical music. It’s also the perfect date night. And yes, it’s the coolest thing on the block."
Please click the link to read the full article
KQED, Gabe Meline, 15 December 2014


With Allan Ulrich, Financial Times

"The California-born musician on what continues to drive him after more than 40 years on the podium"
To read the article please click the link below
Financial Times, Allan Ulrich, 28 November 2014

United States tour, November 2014

San Francisco Symphony & Michael Tilson Thomas

"The orchestra achieved a range of emotion and dynamics, a presence as formless as mist or as staunch as granite, the generated sound a perceptible force and making for thrilling experience." The Kansas City Star, Libby Hanssen, 13 November 2014
"The San Franciscans opened with a near-perfect performance of Franz Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz No. 1." Tilson Thomas's tempo was relaxed, but there was no relaxation of rhythmic tension, which made for an exemplary reading of the score" The Plain Dealer, Mark Satola, 17 November 2014
Miami Herald Profile of Michael Tilson Thomas
To read the interview, please click the link below Miami Herald, Lawrence A. Johnson, 13 November 2014
"...the complete simpatico between orchestra and music director was nowhere more evident than in the last “official” piece on the program, the Suite no. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe." The Arts Fuse, Jonathan Blumhofer, 18 November 2014


Approaching MTT's 70th birthday

A Boyish Patriarch Leaps Over Boundaries - Michael Tilson Thomas Seeks Musical Adventure as He Nears 70

To read the full article please follow the link below
New York Times, Anthony Thommasini, 14 November 2014


20th San Francisco Symphony season

"One recent sun-drenched morning, music poured from the windows of a stately home with a million-dollar view of the bay. It was Michael Tilson Thomas at the piano: MTT, as he is known, entertaining his neighbors by playing a little Liszt -- a piece he soon will perform at his 70th-birthday concert at Davies Symphony Hall, part of his 20th season with the San Francisco Symphony." 

To read the full article please click the link below.
San Jose Mercury News, Richard Scheinin, 31 August 2014

Jeremy Denk's tales of Michael Tilson Thomas

San Francisco

"My relationship with MTT has been one of the great gifts of my musical life -- in a straightforward career sense, but more profoundly as advisor and mentor."
Please click the link below to read the full story. Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News

2014-15 season

San Francisco Symphony

The 2014-15 season of the San Francisco Symphony, which begins with the traditional gala concert on Sept. 3, marks Michael Tilson Thomas’ 20th year as the orchestra’s music director. That’s a landmark that is simultaneously admirable and potentially unnerving.

Admirable, because this partnership between orchestra and conductor — who also, coincidentally, turns 70 in December — continues to be an astonishingly fertile and productive one. The level of musicianship on display in Davies Symphony Hall week after week, year after year, remains a marvel, and the unspoken communication between podium and stage only seems to become deeper and more effortless with each passing day.

To read the full article please follow the link below
San Francisco Chronicle / Joshua Kosman / August 15, 2014


Davies Symphony Hall


"Smart programming started the impressive evening with authentic gamelan performance, and ended it with Britten's beautiful synthesis of East and West with the enchanting sounds of Balinese music embedded in a symphony orchestra".
Bay Area Reporter, Phil Campbell, 26 June 2014
"Flair, fervor in Britten's 'Pagodas'...the headline component of Thursday's superb matinee concert by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony". San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman, 13 June 2014

SERENADE for Tenor, Horn, and Strings

"As John Keats' words died away and the sound of a distant horn completed Britten's achingly beautiful 1943 Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31, there was a rare sense of musical bliss in Davies Symphony Hall Thursday night. And yet, there was more, much more to come. 

In a lifetime of concerts, there are many to be treasured, but few that stand out so prominently as this current subscription event by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony on fire."
San Francisco Classical Voice, Janos Gereben


"San Francisco Symphony's belated centennial celebration of Benjamin Britten comes to a triumphant end this weekend with a stunning semi-staged production of the composer's first great opera success, Peter Grimes. 
San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand, 27 June 2014

"The high point of San Francisco's summer opera season wasn't at the War Memorial Opera House, but just across the street at Davies Symphony Hall, where Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony capped their season-ending Britten Centennial Celebration with the composer's Peter Grimes...At the center of it all was Tilson Thomas, whose forays into semi-staged performances in recent years — Der fliegende Holländer and Fidelio among them — have affirmed his credentials in opera. Even so, this performance was extraordinary. The conductor strove for, and achieved, remarkable clarity from his players, illuminating the nuance and unrelenting invention in Britten's majestic score and supporting the singers throughout. The ebb and flow of the interludes came across with stark specificity, and the ensemble numbers roared. At the end of the performance, the conductor and his forces assembled onstage, and the audience roared back its approval.” Opera News, Georgia Rowe, 30 June 2014 (online review)
"Benjamin Britten triumphs in San Francisco" Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed



Absolute Jest

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony join forces with America’s most-performed living composer, John Adams, in a colossal album featuring Adams’ Absolute Jest and Grand Pianola Music.

San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
John Adams, composer

SFS Media


An exquisite new recording from the Grammy award-winning partnership of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.

"Minutes of pure, shimmering magic" - San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Yuja Wang, piano

All works recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall

SFS Media


Michael Tilson Thomas's extensive discography can be viewed on his official website - please click link below.

BERNSTEIN: West Side Story

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony present a new recording of the first-ever concert performances of Leonard Bernstein’s complete score for the musical West Side Story.

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Alexandra Silber, Maria
Cheyenne Jackson, Tony
San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony Chorus

Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, 27 June - 2 July 2013.

Selected for the 2014 Clefs d'Or ResMusica awards
SFS Media

ADAMS: Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony present John Adams' Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine. 

This album was the 2013 Grammy® Award Winner for Best Orchestral Performance and the 2013 ECHO Klassik Award Winner for Orchestra of the Year.

Harmonielehre recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, December 8-11, 2010.

Short Ride in a Fast Machine recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, September 7, 2011.

SFS Media


A 17-disc set, with over 18 hours of music including:
              Symphonies Nos. 1-9
              Adagio from Symphony No. 10
              Das klagende Lied
              Songs with Orchestra
              Das Lied von der Erde

This set's recordings have been awarded a combined 7 Grammy Awards. Each recording is also available to purchase separately.
SFS Media