Tilson Thomas: 25 years of innovation at San Francisco Symphony

Posted on: September 4, 2019

“Cellist Barbara Bogatin remembers when things shifted, as if by a gale force wind, in 1995,” writes Christina Schreil in Sunday’s (8/31) Nob Hill Gazette (San Francisco). “It was Bogatin’s second year at the San Francisco Symphony…. ‘When Michael came, there was a huge burst of energy,’ Bogatin recalls…. ‘It was a more contemporary, informal approach.’ He befitted sophisticated, open-minded audiences embracing experimentation…. From the start, Tilson Thomas was named an innovator…. Twenty-five years later, nearing his closing season as music director, he rings less as classical music’s peace breaker and more as its keystone. He’s the founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony and conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra…. Amid mounting accolades, some wonder if he’s tamed…. Today’s landscape—which MTT helped terraform—expects unrepressed innovation alongside beloved classical standards…. Instead of stepping outside the box, is he keener on polishing it? Jesse Rosen, president of the League of American Orchestras, disagrees. ‘He’s pursuing parallel paths—investment in the core and also staying consistently at the forefront of real important break-throughs…. It’s not just this idea of innovating and expanding repertoire but also positioning the orchestra in very central way, connected to its community,’ ” says Rosen.

Posted September 4, 2019

Photo of Michael Tilson Thomas by Art Streiber