Michael Tilson Thomas first conducted the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and has been Music Director since 1995. A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at nineteen and working with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. He was pianist and conductor for Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes and, as a student of Friedelind Wagner, an assistant conductor at Bayreuth. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony. Ten days later he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO’s Associate Conductor, then Principal Guest Conductor. He has also served as 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 Festival. He became Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and now serves as Principal Guest Conductor. For a decade he served as co-Artistic Director of Japan’s Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in 1990, and he continues as Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, which he founded in 1988. Michael Tilson Thomas’s recordings have won numerous international awards, and his recorded repertory reflects interests arising from work as conductor, composer, and pianist. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts, and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS-TV. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank, Shówa/Shoáh (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing), Poems of Emily Dickinson, Urban Legend, Island Music, and Notturno. He is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was selected as Gramophone 2005 Artist of the Year, was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.
The San Francisco Symphony Chorus was established in 1973 at the request of Seiji Ozawa, then the Symphony’s Music Director; the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, numbering thirty-two professional and more than 120 volunteer members, performs more than twenty concerts each season. Louis Magor served as the Chorus’s director during its first decade. In 1982 Margaret Hillis, assumed the ensemble’s leadership, and the following year Vance George was named Chorus Director, serving through 2005-06. Ragnar Bohlin assumed the position of Chorus Director in March 2007. The Chorus can be heard on many acclaimed recordings, including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, and 8 (with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting), choral works of Brahms, Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, Stravinsky’s Perséphone, selections from Berlioz’s Lélio, and John Adams’s Harmonium. The ensemble has received Grammy awards for Best Performance of a Choral Work (for Orff ’s Carmina burana, Brahms’s German Requiem, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8) and Best Classical Album (for a collection of Stravinsky’s music including Perséphone, The Firebird, and Le Sacre du printemps; and for Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 8).
Members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Elliot James Encarnación
Jonathan Dimmock has held posts at Saint John the Divine in New York, Saint Mark’s in Minneapolis, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. A graduate of Oberlin and Yale, he has the distinction of being the only American organ scholar of Westminster Abbey. He is currently accompanist at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, organist at the Legion of Honor museum, and he often appears with the San Francisco Symphony. Mr. Dimmock has recorded more than forty CDs and can be heard on the Grammy-winning SFS recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. He is co-founder of the American Bach Soloists, founding director of Artists’ Vocal Ensemble (AVE), and founding president of Resonance, which uses music in international conflict resolution.
Eugene Izotov joined the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Oboe, holding the Edo de Waart Chair, in the 2015-16 season. He previously served as principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony and Metropolitan Opera, guest principal oboe with the Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and associate principal oboe of the SFS. He is the first Russian-born principal wind player in any major American orchestra. Mr. Izotov was awarded top prizes at the New York, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Fernand Gillet international oboe competitions. One of today’s most prolific teachers, Mr. Izotov serves on the faculties of the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival, and is a frequent guest artist at Juilliard, Oberlin, Aspen, Verbier, Interlochen, Domaine Forget, McGill University, and New World Symphony.
Robin Sutherland, occupant of the Jean & Bill Lane Chair, studied with Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School and with Paul Hersh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. While still an undergraduate there, he was appointed Principal Keyboards of the San Francisco Symphony by Seiji Ozawa. Mr. Sutherland was for thirty seasons co-director of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival in Colorado. A re-mastered edition of Robin Sutherland’s 1996 recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations has been released on SFS violinist Sarn Oliver’s SarnWorks label. This limited edition release is available at the San Francisco Symphony Store.
Jacob Nissly was appointed Principal Percussion of the San Francisco Symphony in 2013. Previously, he was the principal percussion of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony. He also served as a member of the New World Symphony. Mr. Nissly has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera, Houston Symphony, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and with the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Pacific Music Festival. He is an adjunct professor of percussion at the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Nissly holds a Bachelor of Music and Jazz Studies from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School. He began his percussion studies with Woody Smith in Iowa.
Tim Day is Principal Flute of the SFS and occupant of the Caroline H. Hume Chair. Mr. Day served as principal flute with the Baltimore Symphony for twelve seasons, has been acting principal flute with the Minnesota Orchestra, and was guest principal flute with the Boston Symphony. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Mr. Day joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1987 and during the summers is on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Orion Weiss, a native of Lyndhurst, OH, attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax. Mr. Weiss is the recipient of a Gilmore Young Artist Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Highlights of the 2015-16 season include performances with the Iceland Symphony and collaborative projects with the Pacifica Quartet and with violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the New Orford String Quartet. The 2014-15 season featured a North American tour with the Salzburg Marionette Theater in an enhanced piano recital of Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux. In 2015 Naxos released his recording of Christopher Rouse’s Seeing, a major commission Mr. Weiss debuted with the Albany Symphony. His other recordings include a recital album of Dvořák, Prokofiev, and Bartok, and the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra with the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta.
Video Designer and pre-concert installation
Adam Larsen is a filmmaker and projection designer. His work has been seen in Hal Prince’s LoveMusik on Broadway; The Gospel at Colonus at the Athens, Edinburgh, and Spoleto festivals; The Wind Up Bird Chronicle at the Singapore and Edinburgh festivals; Brief Encounters and My Fair Lady at the Shaw Festival; The Women of Brewster Place at Alliance Theatre and Arena Stage; Ghost Brothers of Darkland County and Native Guard at Alliance Theatre; big at Atlanta Ballet; Love Lies Bleeding, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and Balletlujah at Alberta Ballet; Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at Canadian Opera; Lily Plants a Garden at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; Saariaho’s Maa with Atlanta Symphony and GloAtl; Adams’s A Flowering Tree and Handel’s Agrippina at Opera Omaha; Handel’s Semele with Pacific Musicworks; Quartet at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; Seed at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet; Cage’s Second Hand and Foss’s Phorion with New World Symphony; Black Whole at Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center and Moog Music; and Peter Grimes, Peer Gynt, and Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, as well as several SoundBox performances with the San Francisco Symphony. Mr. Larsen holds a BFA in cinematography from North Carolina School of the Arts. His documentary about autism entitled Neurotypical aired on the PBS series POV.
Lighting Designer and pre-concert installation
Luke Kritzeck has worked with artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds in theater, dance, music, circus, and opera on stages around the world. Prior to joining New World Symphony as the Director of Lighting in January 2014, Mr. Kritzeck spent six years working for Cirque du Soleil on its touring production TOTEM and in Macau, China on its resident show ZAiA. His other projects with Cirque du Soleil include serving as the lighting director for featured performances, including the Venetian Macau Tennis Showdown and the International Indian Film Awards, which was broadcast to more than 350 million viewers. Mr. Kritzeck’s design credits include Chautauqua Opera Company, Cincinnati Ballet, Cedar Fair Entertainment, Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, Lafayette Ballet Theatre, and the San Francisco Symphony.