Michael Tilson Thomas, Isabel Leonard, and the SF Symphony performs MTT'’s From the Diary of Anne Frank




It’s rich and varied journey as Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony undertake their 24th, and penultimate, season together. MTT unveils a deeply personal work, his From the Diary of Anne Frank, in performances coinciding with an important humanitarian milestone. The Orchestra undertakes the last national tour of MTT’s tenure and offers an immersive look at the energetic and elegant spirit of Stravinsky.


Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, recorded in March 2019

Rebellious Beauty: Stravinsky Festival

For Michael Tilson Thomas, the music of Stravinsky has been a through line, beginning with the formative concert experiences of his youth in Los Angeles and continuing through his many Stravinsky performances as a conductor. The San Francisco Symphony’s 1999 Stravinsky festival was a key moment in the MTT narrative, and it’s only fitting that the conductor revisits Stravinsky in a multi-week exploration of the composer’s three game-changing ballets and the rare gem Perséphone (featuring legendary actress Leslie Caron as narrator). The festival atmosphere is in full swing as audiences are treated to a panoply of extracurriculars, including pre-concert music and dance performances presented by Art Haus. The Stravinsky festival also journeys to New York for high-profile dates as part of Carnegie Hall’s season-opening week.

Michael Tilson Thomas

Stravinsky festival lobby exhibit
Members of Art Haus perform in the Davies Hall lobby
Leonidas Kavakos performs Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto

From the Diary of Anne Frank

In November 2018, on the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the San Francisco Symphony celebrates the human spirit in performances of Michael Tilson Thomas’ From the Diary of Anne Frank. MTT’s 1990 work originally came to life with narration by Audrey Hepburn, UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador (and a close personal friend of MTT)—its premiere performances included one at the UN General Assembly Hall. The 2018 performances, featuring Isabel Leonard as narrator, are captured for an SFS Media recording of MTT’s vocal works, released June 26, 2020. MTT tells us that “While some of the words concern tragic events, a great many of them nevertheless reflect the youthful, optimistic, inquisitive, and compassionate spirit of their author.”

Michael Tilson Thomas
MTT with Audrey Hepburn
Isabel Leonard performs From the Diary of Anne Frank
Rob C. Cowan (blog), review of From the Diary of Anne Frank
Itzhak Perlman, musicians of the Perlman Music Program, and the SF Symphony, 2018 Opening Night Gala concert

Aaron Schuman 
(Associate Principal Trumpet)
Wyatt Underhill

(Assistant Concertmaster)

Steven Mackey: Portals, Scenes, and Celebrations
(World premiere, SFS commission)


2018–19 Tour

The October 2018 East Coast Tour included Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night Gala with vocalists Renée Fleming and Audra McDonald. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos also joined the Orchestra.

New York, NY, Carnegie Hall
Greenvale, NY, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts

The March 2019 National Tour, MTT’s final as Music Director, included guest violinists Christian Tetzlaff and Alexander Kerr

Seattle, WA, Benaroya Hall
Kansas City, MO, Hertzberg Hall
Washington DC,  Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Boston, MA, Symphony Hall
Urbana-Champaign, IL, Krannert Center
Lincoln, NE, Lied Center
Ames, IA, Iowa State Center

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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