Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas | Credit: Art Streiber

When Michael Tilson Thomas surprised and saddened the world five months ago with his announcement that health problems in the aftermath of heart and brain surgeries are forcing him to retire, he said:

“I will continue to compose, to write, and to mull over your thoughts and mine. I’m planning more time to wonder, wander, cook, and spend time with loved ones — two legged and four. Life is precious”

What few observers, and probably not even MTT, now 77, could foresee is that even against continued problems from the pandemic in the world’s concert halls, he would return to an extensive conducting career.

Mostly with his old orchestras in San Francisco and Miami, but elsewhere as well, MTT is vigorously raising the baton, receiving the kind of rave reviews he has been well used to in a half-century-long career.

Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas | Courtesy of New World Symphony

In addition to activities such as being commencement speaker at Juilliard and winning yet another Grammy (the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium, with the SF Symphony, conducting his From the Diary of Anne Frank and Meditations on Rilke), MTT is also continuing a busy conducting career, including multiple appearances with the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, where he holds laureate positions.

Describing it as a season of “playing music I love with orchestras I love,” he will also make guest appearances with The Cleveland Orchestra and New York Philharmonic and make his debut with the Tonhalle-Orchestra Zürich. Plans announced for the remainder of the current season and 2022–2023:

— Aug. 27, Tanglewood Festival: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dubinushka; Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Alexander Malofeev); Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3

— Aug. 28, Tanglewood Festival: Beethoven, Symphony No. 9

— Oct. 22, New World Symphony: Rachmaninoff, Vocalise, Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Yefim Bronfman), and Symphony No. 2

— Nov. 4–5, New World Symphony: Claude Debussy, Jeux and Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (with George Li); Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 1

— Nov. 11–13, SF Symphony: U.S. premiere of Danny Elfman’s Cello Concerto (with Gautier Capuçon); Igor Stravinsky, Symphonies of Wind Instruments; Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings

— Nov. 17–19, SF Symphony: Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Emanuel Ax) and Serenade No. 1

— Jan. 6–8, 2023, LA Phil, and Jan. 26–28, 2023, SF Symphony: Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Fantaisie (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet); Olivier Messiaen, Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine; Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chôros No. 10

— Jan. 13–15, 2023, LA Phil, and March 30 – April 1, 2023, SF Symphony: Mahler, Symphony No. 9

— March 9–12, 2023, New York Philharmonic: MTT’s Meditations on Rilke; Schubert, Symphony No. 9

— April 13–16, 2023, Cleveland Orchestra: Debussy, Jeux and Fantaisie (with Leif Ove Andsnes); Mahler, Symphony No. 1

— June 3–4, 2023, debut with the Tonhalle-Orchestra Zürich: Mahler, Symphony No. 6


James Conlon
James Conlon | Courtesy of RAI National Symphony Orchestra

Shuman Associates, which represents MTT (and many other artists), also released information about the busy upcoming season for LA Opera Music Director James Conlon, 72, who will lead performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and Verdi’s Otello in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Conlon will also lead opera and vocal performances in the next season: Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Bayerische Staatsoper; “Recovered Voices” programs featuring Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Arnold Schoenberg, Franz Schreker, and Alexander Zemlinsky at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis; and the Mozart Requiem and a Julia Adolphe world premiere at the Cincinnati May Festival.

With the Baltimore Symphony, where he serves as artistic advisor:

— Oct. 6–9: Bernstein, “Kaddish”; Brahms, Tragic Overture; Schreker, Prelude to a Drama

— Jan. 19–21, 2023: Verdi Requiem

— Jun. 17–18, 2023: Adolphus Hailstork, Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed; Alvin Singleton, 56 Blows; Joel Thompson, To Awaken the Sleeper; Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 10

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