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Michael Tilson Thomas leads the SF Symphony and violinist Kennedy at the 1997 Opening Night Gala

1997–98

FRIENDSHIP & THE FAR EAST

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MTT’s third season further spotlights his meaningful and deep-rooted relationships with music lovers at home and abroad. He is the ultimate artist—conductor, composer, touring celebrity. The 1997–98 season features the world premiere of MTT’s Agnegram, an original and kinetic work for devoted San Francisco Symphony friend and patron, Agnes Albert. MTT and the Orchestra also embark on their first Asia tour, and are met with ecstatic audiences throughout Japan and Hong Kong.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Listen to curated live recordings from our archives, available for streaming
on our website for the first time

TODAY’S PICK
An American original, Ruggles’ Sun-treader, recorded September 1997

WHATS IN A NAME:
MTT & AGNES ALBERT

In spring 1998, MTT and the Orchestra give the world premiere of Agnegram, a 90th-birthday musical gift for Agnes Albert, the San Francisco Symphony’s longtime friend, mentor, patroness, and muse. Agnes, one of the most influential Board members in SF Symphony history, was a confidante of every music director and had known virtually every artist who had performed with the Orchestra since the 1940s. MTT is the last music director to serve during her lifetime. His birthday card to her, Agnegram, is a portrait of her “sophisticated and indefatigably enthusiastic spirit,” and his affection and inventiveness is on show throughout this jazzy and jubilant work derived from the musical letters/notes of her name.

Agnes Albert and Michael Tilson Thomas
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, June 15, 1998
Steve Reich (at left) and MTT join SF Symphony musicians in Reich’s Four Organs, 1998

Recordings

Michael Tilson Thomas holds the 1999 Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance. The winning album, an all-Stravinsky disc, was recorded in the 1997–98 season.

Asia Tour

The October 1997 Visa Asian Tour with violinist Kyoko Takezawa is MTT’s first tour of Asia with the San Francisco Symphony.

Matsudo, Japan, Kawanami Memorial Hall

Tokyo, Japan, Suntory Hall

Tokyo, Japan, Bunka Kaikan

Omiya, Japan, Omiya Sonic City Hall

Akita, Japan, Atorion Ongaku Hall

Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall

Nagoya, Japan, Aichi Arts Center Concert Hall

Tsukuba, Japan, Nova Hall

Hong Kong, Sha Tin Town Hall

Hong Kong, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

FIRST ASIA TOUR: 

JAPAN & HONG KONG

MTT is a global celebrity, and beloved in Japan. He is 7 years in as co-Artistic Director of the Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in Sapporo in 1990. In October 1997, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony embark on their first tour of Asia together, performing sold-out concerts in Japan and Hong Kong. Touring confirms the continuing demand for live performances, and Asian audiences are thrilled for the opportunity to meet MTT and the Orchestra on international soil.

United States Tour

The March 1998 National Tour, sponsored by Charles Schwab, features clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.

Chicago, IL, Orchestra Hall

Washington DC, Kennedy Center

New York, NY, Carnegie Hall

Greenvale, NY, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts

Tune in to KDFC at 3pm daily for “MTT Time”—special concert broadcasts from each year of MTT’s historic tenure, featuring commentary from MTT himself.