The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) gave its first concerts in 1911 and has grown in acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors who include Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz, Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, Pierre Monteux, Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt, and Michael Tilson Thomas, who assumed his post in 1995. The SFS has won such recording awards as France's Grand Prix du Disque, Britain's Gramophone Award, and the United States' Grammy. The SFS education program Adventures in Music brings music to every child in grades 1 through 5 in San Francisco's public schools. In 2004, the SFS launched the multimedia Keeping Score on PBS-TV and the web. In 2014, the SFS inaugurated SoundBox, a new experimental performance venue and music series located backstage at Davies Symphony Hall. SFS radio broadcasts-the first in the nation to feature symphonic music when they began in 1926-today carry the orchestra's concerts across the country. For more information, go to sfsymphony.org.
Michael Tilson Thomas first conducted the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) 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 age 19. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts and was pianist and conductor for the Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). He came to international recognition 10 days later, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's principal guest conductor, and he has also served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and as a principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the London Symphony Orchestra he has served as principal conductor and principal guest conductor; he was recently named conductor laureate. He is artistic director of the New World Symphony, which he co-founded in 1987. He served as artistic director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in 2009 and 2011. Mr. Tilson Thomas's recordings have won numerous international awards, including 12 Grammys for SFS recordings. In 2014, he inaugurated SoundBox, the San Francisco Symphony's new alternative performance space and live music series. 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, settings of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Island Music, Notturno, and, most recently, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Michael Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was Musical America's Musician and Conductor of the Year, and was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2015. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.