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Michael Tilson Thomas and Schubert

Mar 09 - Mar 12


When Michael Tilson Thomas returned to the Philharmonic last season after ten years, The New York Times hailed him as a “podium hero.” This season he leads his own Meditations on Rilke, featuring acclaimed vocalists Sasha Cooke and Dashon Burton, as well as Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, known as the Great for its scope and splendor. 

Michael Tilson Thomas and Schubert


7:30 PM





8:00 PM





8:00 PM





2:00 PM




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Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall


2 Hours with Intermission


Additional Info
These concerts will be streamed on the Hauser Digital Wall.


Program Notes

Michael Tilson Thomas

Meditations on Rilke (New York Premiere)


Symphony No. 9, Great



  • Michael Tilson Thomas


    Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) is the music director laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra, and co-founder and artistic director laureate of the New World Symphony. He is a 12-time Grammy Award winner and has conducted the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.

    Born in Los Angeles, he studied conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California and, as a young musician, worked with artists including Stravinsky and Copland. In his mid-20s, he became assistant conductor — and later principal guest conductor —of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He subsequently served as the Buffalo Philharmonic’s music director, Los Angeles Philharmonic’s principal guest conductor, and London Symphony Orchestra’s principal conductor.

    In 1987, MTT co-founded the New World Symphony, a postgraduate orchestral academy in Miami Beach dedicated to preparing young musicians of diverse backgrounds for leadership roles in classical music. He has worked with more than 1,200 NWS Fellows, many of whom have gone on to major careers.

    He became the San Francisco Symphony’s music director in 1995, ushering in a period of significant growth and heightened international recognition for the orchestra, and championing contemporary and American composers alongside classical masters. As music director laureate, he conducts the orchestra each season.

    MTT’s discography includes more than 120 recordings, and his numerous televised performances include series for the BBC and PBS and the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts. He has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes, ABC’s Nightline, and PBS’s American Masters.

    Throughout his career MTT has been an active composer, with major works including From the Diary of Anne Frank, premiered with narrator Audrey Hepburn, and Meditations on Rilke. Both appear on SFS Media’s Grammy Award–winning recording of his music. In 2022 Avie Records released an album of solo piano works by John Wilson featuring the world premiere recording of Tilson Thomas’s Upon Further Reflection. In 2023 Yuja Wang released MTT’s You Come Here Often? on Deutsch Grammophon.

    Tilson Thomas is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, member of the American Academies of Arts and Sciences and Arts and Letters, National Medal of Arts recipient, and 2019 Kennedy Center Honoree. In 2022, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from The Juilliard School, he gave the Commencement address.

    Learn more about Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Sasha Cooke


    This season marks two-time Grammy Award–winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke’s appointment at the Music Academy of the West as co-director of the Lehrer Vocal Institute.

    Learn more about Sasha Cooke
  • Dashon Burton


    Dashon Burton has established a vibrant career through regular appearances throughout the US and Europe. Highlights of his 2022–23 season include a return to The Cleveland Orchestra for Schubert’s Mass No. 6 with Franz Welser-Möst, in Cleveland and at Carnegie Hall, as well as debuts with the Milwaukee Symphony led by Ken-David Masur, in Mendelssohn’s Elijah; the Houston Symphony and Juraj Valčuha, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex; and the Louisville Orchestra led by Teddy Abrams, the world premiere of Chris Cerrone’s The Year of Silence. The bass-baritone continues his relationship with San Francisco Performances as artist-in-residence through appearances at venues and educational institutions throughout the Bay Area.

    Learn more about Dashon Burton

Special Thanks

Major support for these concerts is provided by Roy (Trey) Farmer III, in celebration of LGBT trailblazer Michael Tilson Thomas.

Support for Michael Tilson Thomas’s appearance on March 9 is provided by Michael P. N. A. Hormel.


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