Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m.
Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and
Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco
An annual favorite, the San Francisco Symphony performed with Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas in a rare summer appearance! The afternoon's program featured the iconic sounds of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. The performance also included Copland's Billy the Kid Suite.
Click here for detailed program information.
This performance was dedicated to the memory of Rhoda H. Goldman, Festival Chair from 1968 to 1996.
Founded in 1911 and celebrating its Centennial Season in 2011-12, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) is widely considered to be among the countryâ€™s most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions. The Orchestra was established by a group of San Francisco citizens, music-lovers, and musicians in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, and played its first concert on December 8, 1911. Almost immediately, the Symphony revitalized the cityâ€™s cultural life. The Orchestra has grown in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors: American composer Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz (who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera), Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux (who introduced the world to Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka), Enrique JordÃ¡, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt (now Conductor Laureate), and current Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Led by Tilson Thomas, now in his seventeenth season as Music Director, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually for an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through national and international tours.
Since Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the SFSâ€™s eleventh Music Director in September 1995, he and the San Francisco Symphony have formed a musical partnership hailed as one of the most inspiring and successful in the country. His tenure with the Orchestra has been praised for outstanding musicianship, innovative programming, highlighting the works of American composers, and bringing new audiences to classical music. In addition, the orchestra has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in music education and the use of multimedia, television, technology, and the web to make classical music available worldwide to as many people as possible.
In its Centennial season, the orchestra reprises its acclaimed American Mavericks Festival of music by pioneering modern American composers, featuring the world premieres of four commissioned works in two weeks of concerts at Davies Symphony Hall and on a two-week national tour, including four performances at Carnegie Hall. Its annual Project San Francisco residencies focus on artists and composers in a variety of musical settings, and this year spotlight violinist Joshua Bell and composer Mason Bates. The San Francisco Symphony regularly mounts special weeklong semi-staged productions with multimedia, and in the Centennial Season plans a week of music from early San Francisco, hosted and curated by MTT, in addition to performances given of semi-staged works by Debussy, BartÃ³k, and Polaris, a new work from composer Thomas AdÃ¨s, with video elements by artist Tal Rosner.
Since 1996, when Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their more than a dozen national tours together, they have continued an ambitious yearly touring schedule that takes them to Europe, Asia and throughout the United States. In May and June 2011, they made a three-week tour of Europe, culminating in Vienna performances of three Mahler symphonies to commemorate the anniversaries of the composerâ€™s birth and death. Recent touring highlights also include a three-week 2011 European tour, and a 2006 Asian tour that included the Orchestraâ€™s first appearances in mainland China.
Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra have recorded all nine of Gustav Mahlerâ€™s symphonies and the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth Symphony, and the composerâ€™s works for voices, chorus, and orchestra for SFS Media. Their 2009 recording with the SFS Chorus of Mahlerâ€™s sweeping Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand, and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 won three Grammy Awards, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. The San Francisco Symphony has also recorded scenes from Prokofievâ€™s Romeo and Juliet, a collection of Stravinsky ballets, a Gershwin collection, and Charles Ives: An American Journey, among others. In addition to fourteen Grammy Awards, seven of them for the Mahler cycle, the SFS has won some of the worldâ€™s most prestigious recording awards, including Japanâ€™s Record Academy Award and Franceâ€™s Grand Prix du Disque.
Tilson Thomas and the SFS launched the national Keeping Score PBS television series and multimedia project in 2006, to help make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. The project, an unprecedented undertaking among orchestras, is anchored by eight composer documentaries, hosted by Tilson Thomas, and eight live concert films, and includes www.keepingscore.org, an innovative website to explore and learn about music; a national radio series; documentary and live performance DVD and CDs; and an education program for K-12 schools to further teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects. To date, more than nine million people have seen the Keeping Score television series, and the Peabody Award-winning radio series has been broadcast on almost 100 stations nationally.
The San Francisco Symphony provides the most extensive education programs offered by any American orchestra today. In 1988, the Symphony established Adventures in Music (AIM), a free, comprehensive music education program that reaches every first- through fifth-grade child in the San Francisco Unified School District. The SFS Instrument Training and Support program reaches all San Francisco public middle and high schools with instrumental music programs. In 2011-12, the Symphony expanded its educational offerings to include Community of Music Makers, a program that includes workshops with amateur choral and orchestral musicians, and supports musicians with professional coaching, rehearsals, and other learning opportunities. Also launching this season is a revitalized childrenâ€™s music education website www.sfskids.org, developed in conjunction with the UC Irvine Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds. The SFS also offers opportunities to hear and learn about great music through its programs Concerts for Kids, Music for Families, the internationally-acclaimed SFS Youth Orchestra, and annual free and community concerts.
San Francisco Symphony Music Director
Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) celebrates his 18th season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony during the Orchestraâ€™s 2012-13 season. He and the Orchestra have been praised by critics for innovative programming and for bringing the works of American composers to the fore, and have brought new audiences into Davies Symphony Hall. MTT is widely regarded as a consistent innovator in understanding and using technology and media to communicate the power of music to millions around the world who would not otherwise hear it. He has pioneered a new approach to the orchestral concert experience, with the use of multimedia elements, staging, video, and dramatic effects to help people hear new dimensions in music. In 2012, Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony presented the landmark nine-concert American Mavericks Festival, a celebration of Americaâ€™s maverick musical heritage of the 20th century, which MTT and the Orchestra also performed on a two-week U.S. tour. MTT has led the Orchestra in internationally acclaimed explorations of the music of Mahler, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Wagner, and Weill. Semi-staged productions have included Rimsky-Korsakovâ€™s opera-ballet Mlada, Wagnerâ€™s The Flying Dutchman, Beethovenâ€™s Fidelio, John Adamsâ€™ El NiÃ±o and A Flowering Tree, Debussyâ€™s Le martyre de Saint Sebastien, and The Thomashefskys, celebrating MTTâ€™s grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, pioneers of the American Yiddish theater. During his inaugural 1995-96 season, Tilson Thomas included an American work on nearly every one of his San Francisco Symphony programs, and ended the season with An American Festival, a groundbreaking two-week celebration of American music.
Michael Tilson Thomasâ€™s acclaimed recordings have won numerous international awards, including 11 Grammys for SFS recordings of Mahlerâ€™s symphonies 3, 6, 7, 8, and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10, scenes from Prokofievâ€™s Romeo and Juliet, and a collection of three Stravinsky ballet scores â€“ Le Sacres du printemps, The Firebird, and PersÃ©phone. His recordings also include works by Bach, the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies, and Copland, as well as his pioneering work with the music of Ives, Ruggles, Reich, Cage and Gershwin. For the San Francisco Symphonyâ€™s own SFS Media label, Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra have recorded Mahlerâ€™s nine symphonies, the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth Symphony, and Mahlerâ€™s songs for voices, chorus and orchestra. Their recordings of Coplandâ€™s Organ Symphony with Paul Jacobs; Ivesâ€™ A Concord Symphony, arranged by Henry Brant; Beethovenâ€™s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Emanuel Ax; and Beethovenâ€™s Symphony No. 5 were issued in 2011. In 2012, their recording of John Adamsâ€™ Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine was released on SFS Media.
In 1996, Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their more than two dozen national and international tours together; they continue to tour every year and perform regularly in Europe, Asia, at Carnegie Hall and throughout the United States. Acclaimed interpreters of Mahlerâ€™s music, Tilson Thomas and the SFS performed his symphonies in some of Europeâ€™s leading music capitals for the anniversaries of the composerâ€™s birth and death, including the centerpiece: a rare four-concert engagement in May 2011 at the famed Vienna Konzerthaus. MTT and the Orchestra opened Carnegie Hallâ€™s 2008-09 season with a gala tribute to Leonard Bernstein that was filmed for national broadcast on PBSâ€™s Great Performances and released by SFS Media on DVD. Other recent touring highlights include the Orchestraâ€™s inaugural visit to mainland China, where they performed in Shanghai and opened the Hong Kong Arts Festival, and a three-week tour of summer festivals including the London Proms and festivals of Edinburgh, Rheingau, Berlin and Lucerne.
A Los Angeles native, 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 19, he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland on premieres of their works at Los Angelesâ€™s famed Monday Evening Concerts. During this period he was also pianist and conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz.
In 1969, at age 24, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, Tilson Thomas was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ten days later he made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony, gaining international recognition when he replaced Music Director William Steinberg mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the BSO, where he remained until 1974. He made his San Francisco Symphony conducting debut in 1974 at 29, leading the Orchestra in Mahlerâ€™s Symphony No. 9.
MTT assumed his post as the San Francisco Symphonyâ€™s 11th music director in September 1995, consolidating a strong relationship with the Orchestra that began some two decades earlier. He has also served as Chief Conductor and Director of the Ojai Festival, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has toured the world with the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he became Principal Conductor in 1988 and now serves as Principal Guest Conductor. Until 2000 he was co-Artistic Director of the Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in Sapporo, Japan, in 1990. His guest conducting engagements include frequent appearances with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Tilson Thomas is noted for his commitment to music education and young people. He led the television broadcasts of the New York Philharmonicâ€™s famed Young Peopleâ€™s Concerts from 1971 to 1977. He founded the New World Symphony in Miami, a national training orchestra for the most gifted graduates of Americaâ€™s conservatories, and continues as Artistic Director. As Artistic Director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, he led the globally-sourced ensemble in both its first concert in April 2009 at Carnegie Hall and the new group of musicians who performed at the Sydney Opera House in March 2011. That event was the most popular live YouTube concert, with 33 million viewers.
MTT and the SFS created the acclaimed national Keeping Score PBS television series and multimedia project, unprecedented among American orchestras. Designed to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, Keeping Score is anchored by eight composer documentaries and eight live concert films, viewed by more than nine million Americans on national PBS television and DVD; an interactive web site to explore and learn about music, www.keepingscore.org; and a Peabody Award-winning national radio series with episodes hosted by MTT. Its education program for K-12 schools furthers teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects. Keeping Score composers include Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Copland, Ives, Berlioz, Shostakovich, and Mahler.
Acclaimed for his work as a composer, MTT has given world premieres of many of his works with the San Francisco Symphony. In 1999, MTT conducted the SFS in the first orchestral version of Three Songs to Poems by Walt Whitman, and in 2001, RenÃ©e Fleming and the SFS premiered his song cycle Poems of Emily Dickinson. In 2002, Tilson Thomas led the SFS in the world premiere of his contrabassoon concerto Urban Legend, with SFS contrabassoonist Steven Braunstein as soloist. In 2005, MTT and the SFS performed Tilson Thomasâ€™s Island Music, dedicated to the memory of Lou Harrison. In 1991, Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony performed From the Diary of Anne Frank, composed by Tilson Thomas and commissioned by UNICEF. His composition ShÃ³wa/ShoÃ¡h was written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
Tilson Thomasâ€™s many honors include the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government, presented by President Barack Obama in February 2010. He has also been recognized with Columbia Universityâ€™s Ditson Award for services to American Music and the Presidentâ€™s Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was named 1995 Conductor of the Year by Musical America. Tilson Thomas was a Carnegie Hall Perspectives Artist from 2003-2005. In 2006 he was recognized with Gramophone â€™s Artist of the Year award, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France.
Come visit our Facebook fan page and stay up to date on all things SGF related!
The Stern Grove Festival is on Twitter. Follow us and stay up-to-date on SGF happenings.
Copyright © 2013 Stern Grove Festival