MTT and members of the SF Symphony in front of a cable car, 1998




MTT’s fourth season kicks off with a national event when the San Francisco Symphony opens at Carnegie Hall with a centennial tribute to George Gershwin. The concert is broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances. 1998–99 also sees MTT demonstrating his love of Stravinsky in a festival devoted to the composer. Thoughtfully curated and crafted explorations of Stravinsky’s sacred works, Stravinsky in America, and Stravinsky’s Russia are vibrant, exuberant, irrepressible. MTT is heralded for not only being remarkable conductor but a music director in the most profound sense: a “dynamic cultural leader who can proselytize, educate, reach out to composers, schools, other artistic organizations.” 


MTT and the San Francisco Symphony open the 1998–99 season at Carnegie Hall and at home with a blowout centennial tribute to George Gershwin—and longtime MTT friend, actress and singer Audra McDonald, makes her Carnegie debut at these performances. Also lighting up the stage: Tony-winning actor and singer Brian Stokes Mitchell, opera superstar Frederica von Stade, and esteemed pianist Garrick Ohlsson.


In June 1999, MTT presents an eye-opening, ear-stretching Stravinsky Festival, one that is uniquely framed by his personal connection with the composer. “Growing up in Los Angeles gave me the opportunity to hear and meet Stravin­sky on many occasions,” MTT shares. “The sound of his voice singing his pieces is still the greatest influence on my approach to his mu­sic.” The concerts are insightful and edgy, and night after night, audiences erupt in cheers. In the presence of such music making and the festival’s fascinating programming, there is no doubt that MTT has led the San Francisco Symphony squarely into the ranks of America’s top 5 orchestras. 

Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner
Michael Tilson Thomas


National Tour

The September 1998 National Tour, sponsored by Visa, featured vocalists Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. 
MTT also performed as soloist in Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody for Orchestra with Piano.

New York, NY,  Carnegie Hall (Opening Gala) 

Greenvale, NY,  Tilles Center for the Performing Arts 

Ann Arbor, MI, Hill Auditorium 

European Tour

The January–February 1999 Visa European Tour included appearances by violinist Gil Shaham and sopranos Christine Brewer and Dawn Upshaw.

Dublin, Ireland, National Concert Hall 

London, England, Barbican Centre 

Madrid, Spain, Auditorio Nacional de Música 

Murcia, Spain, Auditorio y Centro de Congresos 

Valencia, Spain, Palau de la Música 

Barcelona, Spain, Palau de la Música 

Toulouse, France, Halle aux Grains B Toulouse 

Paris, France, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées 

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Concertgebouw 

Hannover, Germany,  Kuppelsaal 

Hamburg, Germany, Grosse Musikhalle 

Frankfurt, Germany, Alte Oper 

Brussels, Belgium, Palais des Beaux Arts 

Vienna, Austria, Grosser Saal, Musikvereinssaal 

MTT and Gil Shaham backstage at London’s Barbican Centre, 1999
MTT and the SF Symphony bow at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, 1999
Eugene Izotov, SF Symphony Principal Oboe

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.

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