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S.F. Symphony Returns From East Coast Blitz

October 9, 2018

If it’s Wednesday, it must be New York. Ditto for Thursday and Friday. The weekend before, it was San Francisco. Then this week: Davies Hall again. Violinists can live out of a suitcase, but what about double bass players?

Called “thrilling” by The New York Times, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony played a Stravinsky program in Carnegie Hall on Thursday, repeating the much-praised concerts in Davies Hall on the previous weekend.

The night before, on Wednesday, they starred in the glitzy Carnegie Hall gala opening, with Audra McDonald and Renée Fleming. On Friday, MTT and the S.F. Symphony performed the Stravinsky program again in Tilles Center on Long Island. And then, while MTT left on a busy schedule of his own, the orchestra flew back home, getting ready for a series of subscription concerts in Davies Hall, Oct. 11-13, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Daniel Hawkins, who joined the S.F. Symphony horn section last year, had his first East Coast tour with the orchestra:

The past three weeks have been completely filled with some of the most popular pieces that Igor Stravinsky ever wrote. Getting the chance to play all of these works with a Maestro who knew him personally and understood what he was asking for in these pieces was truly a remarkable experience.

The music-making between Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra never got tired — even with the intense schedule we had, every time we created something quite extraordinary. The Stravinsky Festival and October Carnegie Tour was a huge success and I am grateful to be in such an inspirational orchestra.”

In an interview with Playbill, MTT said this of the Stravinsky program, which was part of his curatorial work in Carnegie Hall, where he is in charge of the Perspectives Series:

I grew up in Los Angeles, where I saw Stravinsky conduct for the first time when I was 10 or 11. I began attending rehearsals of his music and definitely had this wonderful experience of hearing him sing and demonstrate — in his own particular kind of fractured solfège —exactly the way he thought the music should go.

Hearing the music sung in the composer’s own voice is something that gives you a perspective that can come from no other, no matter how precisely it may be notated on the page.”

And The New York Times review said of The Rite of Spring: “We had a long buildup ahead of us, and Mr. Thomas, with savvy theatrical instincts, wanted to take us there step by step. So when the savage, frenzied episodes came, the music sounded all the more harrowing. The entire performance was riveting, and elicited an exuberant ovation from the audience.”

MTT’s schedule calls for a “special appearance” with his New World Symphony in Miami the day after the Long Island concert, at program in honor of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, hosted by Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter, and conducted by S.F. Symphony’s irector of summer programs, Edwin Outwater.

MTT will lead New World concerts Oct. 21-22, and Nov. 3, before returning to San Francisco, to conduct his own work, From the Diary of Anne Frank, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) on Nov. 15-18.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].