How Tilson Thomas and San Francisco Symphony embrace distinctly American classical music

Posted on: November 13, 2019

“When Michael Tilson Thomas arrived in town as the San Francisco Symphony’s new music director in 1995, he came bearing an ambitious program,” writes Joshua Kosman in last Wednesday’s (11/6) San Francisco Chronicle. “He was going to modernize the orchestra’s repertoire, and reshape its playing with a new level of spontaneity and freedom, and expand its popular outreach, and give the whole thing a shot of the entertainment razzle-dazzle he’d grown up with in Southern California…. As we watch Thomas proceed through the final season of his remarkable 25-year tenure, it’s clear just how thoroughly he has made good on that promise…. The San Francisco Symphony is now … an organization fully in tune with the traditions and expressive sentiments of American classical music…. music steeped in the voices of democracy, in the philosophical legacy of transcendentalism and even the distinctive landscape of the continent…. This is, most pointedly, the tradition of Charles Ives…. Thomas and the Symphony are issuing a new recording this month of Ives’ third and fourth symphonies…. This is music whose pertinence can feel more urgent and timely than ever, and Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have become an eloquent vessel for its aspirations.”

Posted November 13, 2019

In photo: Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony. Photo by Kristen Loken