Events & Tickets
MTT makes his triumphant return to the New World Center podium to join Fellows in celebrating the composers who established the American sound. Charles Ives conjures musical vignettes of American life, like sweetheart strolls, Fourth of July picnics and war. NWS alumnus and Principal Trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Billy Hunter returns to perform Aaron Copland’s introspective Quiet City.
William Grant Still
Approx. Duration: 15 minutes
Patterns for String Sextet and Harp
Approx. Duration: 4 minutes
Prelude and Blues for Solo Piano
Approx. Duration: 10 minutes
Approx. Duration: 5 minutes
Sonatina for Solo Piano
Approx. Duration: 3 minutes
Angels for Muted Brass
Approx. Duration: 19 minutes
Three Places in New England
(1911-14; 1929 orchestration)
The Saint-Gaudens in Boston Common
Putnam’s Camp, Redding Connecticut
From the Housatonic at Stockbridge
Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony; and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to these posts, he maintains an active presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Tilson Thomas is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures.
Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California, where he studied piano with John Crown, and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age 19 he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. During this same period, he was the pianist and conductor in master classes of Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz and worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts.
In 1969, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 1974. He was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1971 to 1979 and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985. His guest conducting includes appearances with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Mr. Tilson Thomas is a two-time Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, curating and conducting series at the hall from 2003 to 2005 and from 2018 to 2019. In the most recent series, he led Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America both at the hall and on tour in Asia, opened the Carnegie Hall season over two evenings with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted two programs with the Vienna Philharmonic and finished with a pair of concerts leading the New World Symphony.
A winner of eleven Grammy Awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas appears on more than 120 recordings. His discography includes The Mahler Project, a collection of the composer’s complete symphonies and works for voice and orchestra performed with the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to pioneering recordings of music by Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage, Ingolf Dahl, Morton Feldman, George Gershwin, John McLaughlin and Elvis Costello. His recordings span repertoire from Bach and Beethoven to Debussy and Stravinsky, and from Sarah Vaughan to Metallica.
His television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977 and numerous productions on PBS’s Great Performances. With the San Francisco Symphony, he created a multi-tiered media project, Keeping Score, which includes a television series, web sites, and radio programs. He received a Peabody Award for his SFS Media radio series The MTT Files.
Mr. Tilson Thomas’s compositions are published by G. Schirmer. In 1991, he and the New World Symphony were presented in a series of benefit concerts for UNICEF in the United States, featuring Audrey Hepburn as narrator of his work From the Diary of Anne Frank, which was commissioned by UNICEF. This piece has since been translated and performed in many languages worldwide. In August 1995, he led the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in the premiere of his composition Shówa/Shoáh, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. His vocal music includes settings of poetry by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, which were premiered by Thomas Hampson and Renée Fleming, respectively. In 2016, Yuja Wang premiered his piano piece You Come Here Often?.
Mr. Tilson Thomas' song cycle Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, a setting of Carl Sandburg’s poem, was premiered in 2016 by the New World Symphony, with Measha Brueggergosman as soloist. In 2019 the piece was recorded for Medici.tv at the New World Center and given its New York premiere as part of Mr. Tilson Thomas’s second Carnegie Hall Perspectives series. His first Perspectives series also featured performances of his own compositions, including Island Music for four marimbas and percussion; Notturno for solo flute and strings, featuring soloist Paula Robison; and new settings of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. In 2020, he led the San Francisco Symphony in the world premiere of his six-part song cycle Meditations on Rilke, and he subsequently conducted the work at the Cleveland Orchestra. Additional compositions include Street Song for brass instruments; Agnegram, an overture for orchestra; and Urban Legend, a concerto for contrabassoon that was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony. In June 2020, SFS Media released an album of works composed by Mr. Tilson Thomas, featuring live concert recordings of From the Diary of Anne Frank, narrated by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and Meditations on Rilke, sung by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny.
Mr. Tilson Thomas is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, was Gramophone magazine’s Artist of the Year and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Billy Hunter, trumpet (NWS alumnus)
A native of Austin, Texas, Billy Hunter has been Principal Trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2004. He enjoys a versatile career in the classical music world that includes orchestral, chamber and solo performances as well as several educational and outreach initiatives. He is also a former member of the Grammy Award-nominated Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago.
In addition to his yearly work with the MET, Mr. Hunter has appeared as Guest Principal Trumpet with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur, Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Germany, Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy, Charleston Symphony in South Carolina and the Chineke! Orchestra in London. He has also had concerts with the New York Philharmonic and New Jersey, Dallas, and Boston symphonies throughout his professional career. He has held previous positions of Principal Trumpet, Second Trumpet, and Third Associate Trumpet with the New World, Baltimore and Grant Park symphonies, respectively.
As a chamber musician, Mr. Hunter has concertized with the MET Chamber Ensemble, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Classical Tahoe Chamber Orchestra, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival and with the Music Kitchen concert series in Lower Manhattan, which features free lunchtime performances of various types of music for different homeless shelters across Manhattan.
As a soloist, Mr. Hunter has performed with several different ensembles including the University of Texas Wind Ensemble and Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, NJCU Wind Ensemble and Symphony, Lake Tahoe Chamber Orchestra, Prizm Festival Orchestra, New World Symphony, Seraphic Fire and Firebird Chamber Orchestra, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival and the Chineke! Orchestra. Mr. Hunter has also appeared as recitalist at several venues nationwide, in Europe and in Asia. His awards include the Roger Voisin Outstanding Trumpeter Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshires and first prize in the Kingsville International Solo Competition Brass Division. In 2010 he was granted the University of Texas Outstanding Young Texas-Exes award, one of the highest honors granted to alumni. He has also won two Grammy Awards for the MET Opera performances of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Mr. Hunter has given master classes nationally and internationally with several universities and schools including Curtis, Juilliard School, University of Mary, UT Austin, James Madison, Memphis and Pittsburgh State universities, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and various venues in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to this, he is a frequent coach for the New York Youth Symphony in Manhattan and the National Youth Orchestra. He is currently on faculty at NJCU and the Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Hunter currently holds a bachelor of music in trumpet performance from UT Austin and a master of music in trumpet performance from The Juilliard School. His teachers were former MET principal trumpeter and NBC Radio Symphony member Raymond Crisara, Raymond Mase of the American Brass Quintet and the NYC Ballet, and Mark Gould, former Principal Trumpet of the MET Opera.