The SF Symphony celebrates its centennial, 2011–12




It is a festive occasion as the San Francisco Symphony celebrates its centennial in 2011-12. The momentous season sets the stage for some of MTT’s boldest and most broadly conceived innovations yet. American Mavericks returns with a vengeance, a dozen years after redefining the narrative on American music. A handful of semi-staged productions push the envelope further, propelling the Symphony to its second century. MTT notes, “San Francisco has always been known for its independent, left of center spirit. What better way to mark the San Francisco Symphony’s centennial season than to celebrate that creative pioneering spirit that defines this community and this Orchestra.”


John Adams’ Harmonielehre, an SFS Media release from 2012

American Mavericks: The Sequel

The 2000 American Mavericks festival, in which MTT and the Symphony celebrated composers with a “provocative, confrontational, and amusing attitude about music,” drew the world’s attention to Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. In the centennial season, MTT and the Symphony go even further with a special monthlong feast of Mavericks concerts and special events. The 2012 Mavericks festival unveils new works by John Adams, Mason Bates, Morton Subotnick, and Meredith Monk; revisits core American Maverick composers in stunning performances by Emanuel Ax, Jeremy Denk, and others; and brings together MTT, Monk, Joan La Barbara, and Jessye Norman in historic performances of Cage’s Song Books. It's a national affair as American Mavericks hits the road in a tour that culminates in a three-night sold-out stand at Carnegie Hall.

Performance of Cage’s Song Books at Carnegie Hall, 2012 American Mavericks tour
Jessye Norman, Meredith Monk, Joan La Barbara, and MTT, 2012
MTT and SF Symphony musicians bow following a performance of David Del Tredici’s Syzygy, 2012
Michael Tilson Thomas
MTT and Jessye Norman
MTT and the SF Symphony perform in Ann Arbor, MI, 2012 American Mavericks tour
MTT and Elvis Costello
MTT and Alan Gilbert
MTT outside Carnegie Hall
MTT and Bette Midler

March 2012 American Mavericks Tour

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony take the American Mavericks festival on a US tour

Chicago, IL, Orchestra Hall
Ann Arbor, MI, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan
New York, NY, Carnegie Hall

Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Duke Blubeard’s Castle

Barbary Coast and Beyond

In their restless quest to reshape the concert experience, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony present four weeks of multimedia productions and semi-staged concerts in the centennial season. First up is Thomas Adès and Tal Rosner’s orchestral-film work Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra in its San Francisco premiere. Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien and Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, both written in 1911, the year of the Symphony’s founding, are presented in visually rich semi-staged productions conducted by MTT. The Symphony also celebrates the musical roots and heritage of San Francisco in Barbary Coast and Beyond: Music from the Gold Rush to the Panama-Pacific Exposition, a multi-sensory feast seasoned with MTT's theatrical flair.

Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien

Barbara Jepson, The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2011
MTT, Itzhak Perlman, and Lang Lang
at the centennial Opening Gala

For the first time online, watch this spectacular performance of Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra from the Centennial Opening Gala concert in 2011.

MTT with Nancy Bechtle at the centennial Opening Night Gala
Centennial birthday bash concert
in Civic Center Plaza with Lang Lang
Centennial birthday bash concert in Civic Center Plaza
MTT with John Adams and Mason Bates
MTT backstage with Yo-Yo Ma
Michael Tilson Thomas and Yuja Wang backstage in SF Giants gear

Margo Kieser (Principal Librarian)

John Adams: Absolute Jest
(World premiere, San Francisco Symphony commission)

Mason Bates: Mass Transmission
(World premiere, San Francisco Symphony commission)


Keeping Score Companion Series

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.

Please wait...