Michael Tilson Thomas Conducts Ruggles, Mahler, And Mozart With MET Orchestra At Carnegie Hall
Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) conducts Mahler's Symphony No. 4, Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate, and American Maverick Carl Ruggles's Evocations at Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, in his first performance with The MET Orchestra, Tuesday, June 5 at 8:00 p.m. This will be the first time that The MET Orchestra performs a work by Ruggles. The program's featured soloist is soprano Pretty Yende, who sings in Exsultate, jubilate and the finale of the Mahler symphony.
Tickets, priced at $56 to $185, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.
MTT has championed the music of Carl Ruggles throughout his career, and on this program he leads The MET Orchestra in Ruggles's Evocations. Initially written for solo piano in 1943, this twelve-minute piece is one of only ten completed works-excluding arrangements-in the composer's acknowledged oeuvre, which MTT recorded in its entirety with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Released in 1980, this recording was preceded by another with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in 1970, the year he first conducted Ruggles's music, including at Carnegie Hall with the BSO. In both cases, MTT led performances of the composer's 1931 work Sun-treader.
MTT met Ruggles in 1970, recalling:
"...huge polyphonic structures written out in very large notes on wrapping paper on the walls of the little schoolhouse where he lived. Then he would give these pieces what he called 'the test of time': he would play every vertical sonority, every chord, on the piano: once, twice, ten, twenty, fifty, perhaps hundreds of times, as loud as he could, because, as he said to me: 'I thought if I could still stand the sound of that damn thing after a hundred times or so it would sound pretty good a couple of hundred years from now!'"
In the 2000s as part of MTT's American Mavericks initiative with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), he highlighted Ruggles as one of a number of Maverick composers who helped shape American music in the twentieth century. MTT and the SFS' American Mavericks performances at Carnegie Hall in 2012 included Sun-treader, as well as works by Ives, Cowell, Cage, and John Adams, among others.
In addition to leading The MET Orchestra in its first Ruggles performance, MTT conducts the ensemble in Mahler's Symphony No. 4, featuring Pretty Yende as vocal soloist in the finale. MTT recorded the work with the SFS as part of The Mahler Project, their seven-time Grammy Award-winning recording cycle (2001-2010) of the composer's complete symphonies and works for voice and orchestra.
MTT also explored Mahler's music in his and SFS' Keeping Score series on PBS television, the radio, the web, and in the classroom. He said:
"I first became aware of Mahler and his music growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950's. ... It was natural for young Americans of my generation to accept Mahler. We sensed in his work a similarity to the formal designs that we so admired in great film makers. Mahler so often presents epic themes contrasted with something small and human. He demands that the members of the orchestra take on the grotesque ironic accents of street musicians as well as the noble sounds of Beethoven. ... His symphonies are observations of how and why people of all social classes make the music they make. ... He achieved his ambition to make the symphony an entire world."
Following this MET Orchestra performance, MTT will return to Carnegie Hall this summer for the launch of his Perspectives series. His first Perspectives performance will be with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) on July 19. For more information on MTT's Carnegie Hall Perspectives series throughout the 2018-19 season, click here.
Michael Tilson Thomas is Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting the world's leading orchestras, MTT is also noted for his work as a composer and a producer of multimedia projects that are dedicated to music education and the reimagination of the concert experience. He has won eleven Grammys for his recordings, is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, is a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. For more information, visit michaeltilsonthomas.com.