You might be watching performers in Vancouver win medals - here's a conductor who will be awarded a medal today at the White House!
Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest award for artistic achievement. The award will be presented by President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, where Tilson Thomas will be recognized for his contributions to American culture.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to share the deep and ongoing tradition of classical music with all Americans,” said Tilson Thomas. “I receive this award with gratitude to President Obama, the National Endowment for the Arts and to my many musical colleagues throughout the country whose devotion makes all this possible. I especially want to thank the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony families for our special collaborations over these many years.”
Michael Tilson Thomas is acclaimed as a conductor, composer and educator. Currently in his 15th season as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, he is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, the premier orchestral academy for gifted young musicians. With a background that includes grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America, and working relationships with legendary composers of the 20th century, such as Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, MTT’s wide ranging perspectives on music have won him respect and trust among musicians and audiences worldwide.
He conducts and has recorded musical works ranging from Bach, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven to Gershwin, Ives and Reich. The recordings of the complete Mahler symphony cycle by MTT and the San Francisco Symphony have been recognized with seven Grammys, including three this year for Symphony No. 8.
MTT’s commitment to music education is longstanding. He was Director of the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977, helped to create the Discovery Series with the London Symphony Orchestra and is currently creating the Keeping Score Project with the San Francisco Symphony. Keeping Score includes the nationally televised PBS series, radio programming, interactive websites and a K-12 education program, all designed to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. His Keeping Score radio series, The MTT Files, won a Peabody Award in 2008.
In 1987, he founded the New World Symphony (NWS) – an orchestral academy dedicated to the artistic, personal and professional development of outstanding young instrumentalists. There, in addition to a full season of master classes and concerts, he employs Internet2 technology to bring conductors, soloists and coaches from across the globe into virtual collaboration with NWS fellows. Hundreds of NWS alumni are working in 175 professional orchestras around the world. A new Frank Gehry-designed campus will open in Miami Beach in January, 2011.
MTT served as artistic director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra (YTSO), a 96-member ensemble selected from 3,000 video auditions created by musicians from 30 countries and all walks of life and the first orchestra auditioned entirely online. He conducted the YTSO in April 2009 at a Carnegie Hall concert, which received global coverage.
He has won ten Grammys for his recordings and is a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He has been named by Musical America as both “Musician of the Year” and “Conductor of the Year” and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
For more information, visit www.michaeltilsonthomas.com or www.facebook.com/michaeltilsonthomas