Michael Tilson Thomas Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) assumed his post as the San Francisco Symphony's (SFS) 11th Music Director in September 1995, consolidating a strong relationship with the Orchestra that began some two decades earlier. He made his San Francisco Symphony conducting debut in 1974 at 29, leading the Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 9.
Tilson Thomas celebrates his 18th season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony during the Orchestra's 2012-13 season. He and the Orchestra have been praised for innovative programming, enhancing the orchestral concert experience with multimedia and creative staging, for showcasing the works of American composers, and attracting new audiences for orchestral music, both at Davies Symphony Hall and through the Orchestra's extensive media projects. In 2012, Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony presented a landmark two-week American Mavericks Festival, a celebration of America's maverick musical heritage of the 20th century, and toured nationally with all American Mavericks repertoire, including four concerts at Carnegie Hall. The initial American Mavericks Festival, which MTT and the Orchestra mounted in 2000, was a landmark 12-concert festival that established the orchestra's reputation as a standard bearer for American music. MTT has led the Orchestra in internationally acclaimed explorations of the music of Mahler, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Wagner, and Weill. Semi-staged productions have included Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Debussy's Le martyre de Saint Sebastian, Rimsky-Korsakov's opera-ballet Mlada, and The Thomashefskys, celebrating MTT's grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, pioneers of the American Yiddish theater.
Michael Tilson Thomas's acclaimed recordings have won numerous international awards, including 11 Grammys for SF Symphony recordings of Mahler's symphonies 3, 6, 7, 8, and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10, scenes from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, and a collection of three Stravinsky ballet scores – Le Sacres du printemps, The Firebird, and Persephone. For the San Francisco Symphony's own SFS Media label, Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra recorded all of Mahler's symphonies and his works for voices, chorus and orchestra. Most recently, he and he Orchestra recorded and released John Adams' Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine; Ives' A Concord Symphony, arranged by Henry Brant; Copland's Organ Symphony with Paul Jacobs; and Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 and his Piano Concerto No. 4 with Emanuel Ax. Tilson Thomas’ recordings also include pioneering work with the music of American composers Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage and George and Ira Gershwin.
Yuja Wang Piano Twenty-five year old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely recognized for playing that combines the spontaneity and fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist. Regularly lauded for her controlled, prodigious technique, Yuja has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands of the repertoire, the depth of her musical insight, as well as her fresh interpretations and graceful, charismatic stage presence.
Yuja is an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon. Her debut recording, Sonatas & Etudes, released in the spring of 2009, "suggests a combination of blazing technique and a rare instinct for poetry" wrote Gramophone magazine, which named Yuja the Classic FM Gramophone Awards 2009 Young Artist of the Year. For her second recording, Transformation, Yuja received an Echo Award 2011 as "Young Artist of the Year. Yuja next collaborated with Maestro Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to record her first concerto album featuring Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and his Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor which was nominated for a Grammy？ as "Best Classical Instrumental Solo." Her most recent record, Fantasia, is a collection of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Sa？ns, Scriabin and others.
In the few short years since her 2005 debut with the National Arts Center Orchestra led by Pinchas Zukerman, Yuja has already performed with many of the world's prestigious orchestras including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, in the U.S., and abroad with the Berlin Staatskapelle, China Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orquesta Nacional Espana, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra Mozart and Santa Cecilia, among others.
In 2006 Yuja made her New York Philharmonic debut at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival and performed with the orchestra the following season under Lorin Maazel during the Philharmonic's Japan/Korea visit. In 2008 Yuja toured the United States with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner and in 2009 she performed as a soloist with the You Tube Symphony Orchestra led by Michael Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall. She performed with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado in Beijing, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Spain and in London, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Yuja has given recitals in major cities throughout Asia, Europe and North America, is a dedicated performer of chamber music, making regular appearances at summer festivals throughout the world. In March 2011 Yuja performed in a three-concert chamber series at the Salle Pleyel in Paris with principal players from the Berlin Philharmonic. She made her Carnegie Hall recital debut (Stern Hall) in October 2011.
Already Yuja has also worked with many of the world's esteemed conductors including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Mikko Franck, Manfred Honeck, Pietari Inkinen, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Sir Roger Norrington, Antonio Pappano, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson-Thomas and Pinchas Zukerman.
In the 2012-13 season Yuja returns to the Israel Philharmonic to work with Zubin Mehta, followed by a tour of the U.S. that includes performances at Carnegie and Disney halls. She then launches into a three-week tour of Asia with the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas, traveling to Macau, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Yuja will again join the principal players from the Berlin Philharmonic with a series of all-Brahms concerts in Paris and Berlin, and will be presented by the Berlin Philharmonic in recital at the Philharmonie. In spring 2014 she returns to Carnegie Hall again in both recital and a concerto appearance with the San Francisco Symphony, and then a recital tour of Japan where she makes Suntory Hall recital debut.
Born in Beijing in 1987, Yuja began studying piano at age six, with her earliest public performances taking place in China, Australia and Germany, and went on to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing under Ling Yuan and Zhou Guangren. From 1999 to 2001 she participated in the Morningside Music summer program at Calgary's Mount Royal College, an artistic and cultural exchange program between Canada and China, and began studying with Hung Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone at the Mount Royal College Conservatory. In 2002, when Yuja was 15, she won Aspen Music Festival’s concerto competition. She then moved to the U.S. to study with Gary Graffman at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she graduated in 2008. In 2006 Yuja received the Gilmore Young Artist Award. In 2010 she was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Yuja is a Steinway Artist.
San Francisco Symphony The San Francisco Symphony, widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S., celebrated its Centennial season in 2011-12. The Orchestra was established by a group of San Francisco citizens, music-lovers, and musicians in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, and played its first concert on December 8, 1911. Almost immediately, the Symphony revitalized the city's cultural life. The Orchestra has grown in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors: American composer Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz (who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera), Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux (who introduced the world to Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka), Enrique Jorda, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt (now Conductor Laureate), and current Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Led by Tilson Thomas, now in his eighteenth season as Music Director, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually for an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through national and international tours.
Since Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the SFS's eleventh Music Director in September 1995, he and the San Francisco Symphony have formed a musical partnership hailed as one of the most inspiring and successful in the country. His tenure with the Orchestra has been praised for outstanding musicianship, innovative programming, highlighting the works of American composers, and bringing new audiences to classical music. In addition, the orchestra has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in music education and the use of multimedia, television, technology, and the web to make classical music available worldwide to as many people as possible.
In its Centennial season, the orchestra reprised its acclaimed American Mavericks Festival of music by pioneering modern American composers, featuring the world premieres of four commissioned works in two weeks of concerts at Davies Symphony Hall and on a two-week national tour, including four performances at Carnegie Hall. Its annual Project San Francisco residencies focus on artists and composers in a variety of musical settings, and in 2012-13 spotlights Renee Fleming and Andras Schiff. The San Francisco Symphony regularly mounts special weeklong semi-staged productions with multimedia, hosted and curated by MTT, and in 2012-13 presents specially staged performances of Grieg's Peer Gynt and Beethoven's Missa solemnis and the first concert performances by an orchestra of the complete music from Bernstein's West Side Story. Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra will also dedicate several weeks to explorations of the music of Beethoven and Stravinsky.
Since 1996, when Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their more than a dozen national tours together, they have continued an ambitious yearly touring schedule that takes them to Europe, Asia and throughout the United States. In addition to the 2012 two-week national American Mavericks tour, in 2011 they made a three-week tour of Europe, culminating in Vienna performances of three Mahler symphonies to commemorate the anniversaries of the composer's birth and death. Recent touring highlights also include a three-week 2007 European tour that featured two televised appearances at the BBC Proms in London and concerts at several other major European festivals, and a 2006 Asian tour that included the Orchestra's first appearances in mainland China. This season, their two-week November 2012 tour of Asia with pianist Yuja Wang takes the Orchestra to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, and Macau.