Bernstein’s On the Town, May 25, 2016




2015–16 draws together two of Michael Tilson Thomas' most important influences: Schumann and Bernstein. It was Bernstein who pushed MTT to develop his singular approach to Schumann, the fruit of which is heard in unforgettable Tilson Thomas-led performances of Schumann’s symphonies in 2015–16. In a nod to their first season together, MTT and the Symphony present high-octane semi-staged performances of Bernstein’s On the Town with a cast of young luminaries from the Broadway and operatic stages.


Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1947 revision), recorded in 2016

“A preserve for endangered emotions”: MTT and Schumann

The music of Robert Schuman has captivated Michael Tilson Thomas since he became a musician. Throughout 2015–16, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony survey Schumann’s four symphonies, in performances recorded for release on SFS Media. Schumann’s orchestral works provide unique challenges to both conductor and orchestra, with their idiosyncratic orchestration and distinctive voice. MTT’s approach is revolutionary, capitalizing on the flexibility of the San Francisco Symphony to move effortlessly between intimate chamber-like moments and full-blooded, Romantic expressions. MTT notes, “Although the music is very personal, it feels universal. Schumann’s symphonies are about all of us.”

Michael Tilson Thomas
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle review of Schumann Symphony No. 1, 2015
Bernstein’s On the Town

New York, New York: 

Bernstein’s On the Town

With 2013’s West Side Story fresh in mind, MTT and the Symphony revisit Bernstein’s Broadway side in semi-staged performances of On the Town in May 2016. It’s a homecoming of sorts: The San Francisco Symphony performed this masterful musical in 1996 as part of MTT’s first season as Music Director. In a nod to MTT’s long history with the work, Amanda Green (daughter of On the Town co-creator Adolph Green, who memorably appeared in the 1996 San Francisco Symphony iteration) and David Garrison (who recorded the work with MTT and the London Symphony Orchestra in 1992) appear as special guest narrators. Of course, any production of On the Town hinges on the talents of its cast, and the Symphony strikes gold with a cohort led by triple-threats fresh from Broadway. It’s glamorous, funny, exuberant, touching. In short, it’s Bernstein.

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle review of On the Town, May 26, 2016
Leah Garchik, writing about On the Town in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 2016
MTT in rehearsal

MTT at the New York Times’ Look West series, March 22, 2016
MTT onstage with Nathan Gunn, Kelsey Grammar, and Alexandra Silber, 2015 Opening Gala concert
MTT with Dagmar and Natasha Dolby

Eugene Izotov (Principal Oboe)

Jörg Widmann: Trauermarsch for Piano and Orchestra
(with Yefim Bronfman, North American premiere, San Francisco Symphony co-commission)


2015–16 Tours

MTT with Yuja Wang at Usher Hall in Edinburgh

For the August-September 2015 European Festivals Tour, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony are joined by the St. Lawrence String Quartet and pianist Yuja Wang.

Edinburgh, Scotland, Usher Hall
London, England, Royal Albert Hall
Wiesbaden, Germany, Wiesbaden Kurhaus
Berlin, Germany, Berlin Philharmonie
Bucharest, Romania, Sala Palatului
Lucerne, Switzerland, Kultur und Kongresszentrum
Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourg Philharmonie
Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Concertgebouw
Paris, France, Paris Philharmonie

The April 2016 East Coast Tour featured pianist Inon Barnatan, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and tenor Simon O'Neill.

New York, NY, Carnegie Hall
Newark, NJ, New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Washington DC, Kennedy Center Concert Hall

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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