Michael Tilson Thomas
As Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas balances a tradition of artistic excellence with groundbreaking innovation.
We presented him with the 2000 Koret Prize for his inspired leadership and his vision of spreading musical education to new generations of audiences. Since joining the San Francisco Symphony in 1995, Tilson Thomas has initiated a number of spring festivals, including the American Festival and American Mavericks. Under his leadership, San Francisco Symphony has received some of the world's most prestigious awards, has gone on regular national and international tours, and appeared on PBS's Great Performances.
To fill the gap left by cuts in school music programs, the San Francisco Symphony provides the most extensive education and community programs offered by any American orchestra today, including Keeping Score, which is anchored by a national PBS television series, an interactive website, a national radio series hosted by Tilson Thomas, documentary and live performance DVDs, and an education program for K-12 schools.
Tilson Thomas is also the creative force behind The Thomashefsky Project, founded in 1998 to preserve and communicate the contributions of Yiddish theater to American cultural life. The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater is based on the story of Tilson Thomas' grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky — two Jewish teenage émigrés who became groundbreaking stars of the genre. The successful stage production is slated to be featured in a national PBS broadcast as part of the 2011-12 season of Great Performances.