MTT leads semi-staged performances of PeerGynt




The Orchestra’s first season in its second century, and eighteenth under Michael Tilson Thomas, outlines an adventurous series series of signature concerts, recording projects, and staged productions that expand the boundaries of the orchestral concert experience. Longtime friend and collaborator John Adams is at the forefront, as MTT and the Symphony release a statement recording of two Adams masterworks on SFS Media. Reflecting MTT’s creative vision and passion for combining theater and classical repertory in a fresh, contemporary way, the Symphony presents a kaleidoscopic staged take on Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with music by three composers with distinctly bold voices.


Bernstein’s West Side Story, an SFS Media release recorded in 2013. View the story tomorrow.

The Special Relationship: John Adams

The unique creative exchange between John Adams and the San Francisco Symphony began in 1979 but a fresh phase was launched with the start of Michael Tilson Thomas’s tenure in 1995. A high point for the Adams/San Francisco Symphony/MTT trifecta comes in 2013 when the SFS Media recording of Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine snags a Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance. A second all-Adams disc would follow, encompassing two additional San Francisco Symphony commissions: Absolute Jest (unveiled in the centennial season) and Grand Pianola Music (from 1982). Notes MTT: “John’s emergence as a composer has been an important part of our orchestra’s history and emergence on the international scene.”

John Adams

Revolutions in Storytelling

With several pioneering staged productions behind them, Tilson Thomas and the Symphony turn to a great work of Scandinavian literature and poetry as their next theatrical project. To achieve MTT’s unique vision for Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, the production utilizes selections from music for the play written by three composers of diverse eras and nationalities—Edvard Grieg, Alfred Schnittke, and Robin Holloway—enhanced by original video projections, actors, and theatrical elements. Peer Gynt marks MTT and the Symphony’s first collaboration with director James Darrah and a talented team of artists and designers, who would go on to create a number of visually stunning semi-staged productions in coming seasons.

Michael Tilson Thomas
MTT diagrams plays for the SF 49ers’
2013 Super Bowl appearance
Joshua Bell onstage at the SF Symphony’s
2012 Opening Gala concert
MTT speaks at the SF Symphony’s 2012 Opening Gala concert

Guy Piddington (trumpet)
Matthew Young (viola)
Jerome Simas (clarinet/bass clarinet)

Sakurako Fisher (President)

Samuel Adams: Drift and Providence
(West Coast premiere, San Francisco Symphony co-commission with New World Symphony)

Prokofiev (arr. Levon Atovmyan): Ivan the Terrible
(North American premiere)

Mark Volkert: Pandora
(World premiere)

Debussy (orch. Robin Holloway): C’est l’extase
(World premiere, San Francisco Symphony commission)

Robin Holloway: Ocean Voyage from Peer Gynt
(World premiere)


November 2012 Asia Tour

MTT with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Yuja Wang during the 2012 Asia Tour

The San Francisco Symphony’s debut performance at the Macau Cultural Center kicked off a six-city, 10-concert tour of Asia, featuring pianist Yuja Wang.

Macau, Macau Cultural Center
Hong Kong, Hong Kong Cultural Center
Taipei, Taiwan, National Concert Hall
Shanghai, China, Oriental Arts Centre
Beijing, China, National Centre for the Performing Arts
Tokyo, Japan, Suntory Hall
Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

MTT with the China Youth Symphony Orchestra, 2012 Asia tour
MTT with Joshua Robison
in Macau, 2012 Asia tour
MTT with SF Symphony musicians at
a softball game in Tokyo, 2012 Asia tour
MTT and SF Symphony
musicians, 2012 Asia tour

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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