Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony in celebratory mood


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Photo courtesy Bay Taper

This 2014-15 season is a special one for Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. They’re celebrating a spectacularly successful 20th season together, MTT turns 70 in January, they’ve just released a new CD, and have also been nominated for yet another Grammy© Award.

It was in September 1995 that Michael Tilson Thomas became Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, a partnership which now represents the longest achieved by any major American orchestra, and also the longest in the history of the San Francisco Symphony.


Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Photo: Art Streiber

This relationship is widely regarded as one of the most inspirational and successful in the United States. MTT has a reputation for creative and artistically adventurous programming, producing a continual stream of innovative ideas, which continue to attract new audiences to classical music, showcasing the works of American composers, and attracting new audiences to classical music.

The latest CD to have been released by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony is entitled Masterpieces in Miniature – a collection of 20 short works, mostly recorded live in performance at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, during the 2013-14 season. Included are pieces by composers such as Debussy, Delius, Dvořák, Ives, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Sibelius, with the scherzo from Litolf’s Concerto symphonique performed by pianist Yuja Wang.


Tilson Thomas says:  “This recording pays homage to the tradition of these pieces. It marks the beginning of my twentieth season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony and my seventieth birthday. On these occasions, I wanted to give a present to our whole San Francisco family and to our listeners everywhere. What better way than to fashion a garland of these charming pieces?”

Under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony has won a total of 12 Grammy® Awards – seven of which were awarded for the Mahler Project recorded on the Symphony’s in-house label, SFS Media, and included the 2007 Grammy® for Best Classical Album for the recording of Mahler’s Symphony No 7.


Their latest nomination is for West Side Story, a double-CD set featuring Bernstein’s complete score for the musical. Recorded live during performances at Davies Symphony Hall in late June and early July 2013, this world premiere represented the first time that the complete score had ever been performed in its entirety in a concert setting. It features Cheyenne Jackson as Tony and Alexandra Silber as Maria – making their debut performances with the Symphony – and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, director Ragnar Bohlin, which already has a total of eight Grammy® Awards to its credit.

Both Masterpieces in Miniature and West Side Story are available on SFS Media, the Symphony’s in-house recording label.

A promotional video of Masterpieces in Miniature can be viewed on the SF Symphony’s You Tube channel, and exceprts from the first four tracks on the recording can be previewed on SoundCloud.



Michael Tilson Thomas

San Francisco Symphony

San Francisco Symphony Chorus

SFS Media


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2015 – The Year of Russia in Monaco


The Principality of Monaco has designated 2015 as The Year of Russia in Monaco – a showcase of events celebrating the 150 year-old historical and cultural heritage shared by the two states.

Conceived by HSH Prince Albert II during an official visit to Moscow last year, the programme “… consists of events held on Monegasque territory,” the Prince explained, “as well as initiatives aimed at showcasing the diversity of the relations that exist between Russia and Monaco, particularly at the cultural level, but also in the fields of history, education, science, economics, sport, charities, gastronomy and fashion.”


Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov, in J-C Maillot’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ © Alice Blangero

Highlights include performances by the Bolshoi Ballet, symphony concerts and soirées featuring the music of some of Russia’s greatest composers – Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Shostakovich – and a performance by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Prince’s Palace, conducted by Valery Gergiev, General and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.  The Red Army Choir will sing at the Formula 1 Gala Dinner, and operatic highlights include performances of the Shostakovich opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

There’s a a conference on Russian Art at the Fine Art Gallery of Russian Masters, exhibitions by avant-garde and contemporary Russian artists, Russian films, Russian gastronomic experiences – at restaurants of the Société des Bains de Mer – sporting events, and exhibitions of historic, oceanographic and scientific interest – at the Naval Museum, the Oceanographic Museum and the Prehistoric Anthropology Museum.

The Year of Russia in Monaco opens officially on December 19th, with a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet of The Taming of the Shrew, a work choreographed for the Bolshoi by the Monte-Carlo Ballet’s Artistic Director, Jean-Christophe Maillot, earlier this year.


Ekaterina Krysanova as Katharina and Vladislav Lantratov as Petruhio in J-C Maillot’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ © Alice Blangero

This project was unusual in two important respects. It’s rarely that the Bolshoi invites a foreign choreographer to create a complete work for its company of 250 dancers, and The Taming of the Shrew was the first ballet which J-C Maillot has choreographed for any company other than the Monte-Carlo Ballet. Inspired by the work of the greatest playwright in the English language, Maillot based his creation on Shakespeare’s fiery battle of wills between the flamboyant Petruchio and the quarrelsome Katharina. These alone would be reasons to make this work unmissable, and the fact that the ballet received a standing ovation at its premiere in Moscow in July underlines the importance of its first performance in the Principality.

Maillot’s creative and production team was drawn from a group of artists with whom he has developed long and trusted relationships. His Choreographic Assistant was Bernice Coppieters – Prima Ballerina of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo – with participation by Josu Zabala. Dramatisation is by author, Jean Rouaud, set design by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, and lighting by Dominique Drillot.

The score is drawn from a selection of works by Dmitri Shostakovich – mainly those written for the cinema – and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra is directed by Igor Dronov, Professor of Conducting at the Moscow Conservatory, conductor of the Russian Philharmonia, and guest conductor for a number of Russian and international orchestras.

There are three performances of The Taming of the Shrew, at the Grimaldi Forum, on 19th, 20th and 21st December. Further information is available on the Grimaldi Forum website.

For full details of The Year of Russia in Monaco, visit www.monacorussie2015.com


Bolshoi Ballet 

Valery Gergiev

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

Jean-Christophe Maillot

Jean Rouaud

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Dominique Drillot

Dmitri Shostakovich

Igor Dronov

l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo


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