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.

Tilson Thomas's recordings have won numerous international awards, including 12 Grammys for SFS recordings, seven of these for the Mahler cycle on SFS Media. The breadth of his recorded repertory reflects wide-ranging interests arising from his work as conductor, composer and pianist. On television, he has been featured with the San Francisco Symphony in PBS's Great Performances, in a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for the BBC, PBS documentaries with the New World Symphony, and the series Concerto! In June 2004, he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS-TV. A committed educator, he led the New York Phil harmonic Young People's Concerts on CBS-TV from 1971 to 1977. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank; Shówa/Shoáh, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima; Poems of Emily Dickinson; Urban Legend; Island Music; andNotturno. As artistic director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, he led that ensemble's debut concert in April 2009 at Carnegie Hall and conducted it again in 2011. Tilson Thomas's honors include Columbia University's Ditson Award for services to American music, the American Music Center's Letter of Distinction, and the President's Award from the National Academy of Re cording Arts and Sciences. He is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was selected as Gramophone 2005 Artist of the Year, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Program and Ticket Details

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 8 p.m.
Friday, November 22, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 23, 2013, 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 24, 2013, 3 p.m.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano

STRAVINSKY Elegy for J.F.K.
MAHLER Symphony No. 9

Tickets: $39-$255