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The CSO, Led by Michael Tilson Thomas, Performs Mahler's NINTH SYMPHONY, Now thru 11/24

The CSO, Led by Michael Tilson Thomas, Performs Mahler's NINTH SYMPHONY, Now thru 11/24

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) stage to lead the CSO in a program of music by Stravinsky and Mahler. These performances will take place on tonight, November 21 and Saturday, November 23, both at 8 p.m.; Friday November 22 at 1:30 p.m.; and Sunday, November 24 at 3 p.m.

Opening this program is Stravinsky's Elegy for J.F.K., which the composer wrote in 1964 as a memorial to President Kennedy, after his assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Now, 50 years later, the CSO performs this short work for the first time, with soloist mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, in honor of this anniversary. Elegy for J.F.K. is scored for baritone or mezzo-soprano and three clarinets. The text was written at Stravinsky's request by W. H. Auden.

Mahler's Symphony No. 9-the composer's final complete symphonic work-is the featured work on the program. Tilson Thomas has earned worldwide praise for his interpretations of the music of both Stravinsky and Mahler, conducting their work in numerous performances and recordings. His recordings of Mahler's symphonies have won seven Grammy awards.

Michael Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the San Francisco Symphony's (SFS) music director in September 1995, consolidating a relationship with the orchestra that began with his debut here in 1974. A Los Angeles native, he studied piano with John Crown and composition and conducting with Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at 19 and working with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. He was pianist and conductor for master classes given by Piatigorsky and Heifetz and, as a student of Friedelind Wagner, an assistant conductor at Bayreuth. In 1969, at 24, Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Ten days later he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's associate conductor, then principal guest conductor, and he has also served as chief conductor and director of the Ojai Festival, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, a principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and principal conductor of the Great Woods Music Festival. He has toured the world with the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he became principal conductor in 1988 and now serves as principal guest conductor. Until 2000 he was co-artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in Sapporo, Japan in 1990, and he founded and is artistic director of the New World Symphony, a training orchestra for the most gifted graduates of America's conservatories and home to a critically acclaimed, technologically advanced arts academy and concert hall designed by Frank Gehry, which opened in January 2011.


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