Events & Tickets
NWS + Miami City Ballet
New World Center, Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall
Sunday, May 7, 2023 at 2:00 PM
Michael Tilson Thomas, NWS’s Artistic Director Laureate, returns for the season finale of NWS’s 35th Anniversary Season, which features a special collaboration with Miami City Ballet (MCB). For years, MTT and Lourdes Lopez, MCB’s Artistic Director, have led these two cultural pillars of the South Florida community that have earned global recognition for their respective commitments to artistic excellence. This unique collaboration will be an opportunity to showcase both organizations as leaders in classical music, education and dance.
These performances follow NWS and MCB's acclaimed 2020 collaboration in celebration of Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine, two icons of the 20th century whose decades-long friendship proved to be one of the most prolific artistic pairings of their time. Blending music and movement, the two cultural giants gave the world unforgettable productions and inspired students Michael Tilson Thomas and Lourdes Lopez, who now embolden the next generation of artists in our community.
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director Laureate 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.
Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet
Lourdes Lopez has become one of the ballet world’s most prominent and accomplished contributors. Dance Magazine named her a 2018 recipient of its prestigious Dance Magazine Awards, choosing Lopez for her “…admirable stewardship of Miami City Ballet, building upon the company’s Balanchine legacy while also embracing the local culture and community of Miami,” and as “…an exemplary leader, someone whom dancers look up to and are inspired by.” In 2017, the magazine also named her one of “The Most Influential People in Dance Today”.
She became Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet in 2012, bringing with her a nearly 40-year career in dance, television, teaching and arts management. As a Soloist and Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, Lopez danced for two legends of the art form, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Under Lopez’s direction, Miami City Ballet has become one of the country’s premier ballet companies. According to The New York Times, “This troupe [is] at the forefront of all those dancing choreography by George Balanchine today…. Bold, light, immediate, intensely musical, the dancing of Miami City Ballet flies straight to the heart.”
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and raised in Miami, Lopez began taking ballet lessons at the age of five, on the recommendation of a doctor. At the age of 11 she received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, splitting the year between Miami and New York City. At fourteen, she moved to New York permanently to devote herself to full-time studies at SAB, and shortly after her sixteenth birthday, joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet.
Under the direction of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, her star rose quickly at New York City Ballet. In 1984, she was promoted to Soloist, performing countless featured roles including Balanchine’s Violin Concerto, Liebeslieder Walzer, Firebird, Serenade, Symphony in C, Agon, The Four Temperaments; and Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, Fancy Free, In the Night, Four Seasons and Brandenburg.
Upon retirement, Lopez joined WNBC-TV in New York as a Cultural Arts reporter, writing and producing feature segments on the arts, artists and arts education. She was also a full-time senior faculty member and Director of Student Placement, Student Evaluation and Curriculum Planning at New York’s Ballet Academy East. She served on the dance faculty of Barnard College and guest taught at numerous dance institutions and festivals in the United States.
In 2002, Lopez became the Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation, which works to educate the public about dance and to further the art of ballet, with a special emphasis on the work and achievements of George Balanchine. In this position, she oversaw the 2004 Balanchine Centennial Celebration, a worldwide festival honoring the choreographer and his legacy. Lopez co-founded The Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their endeavors.
In 2014, Lopez was elected to serve on the Ford Foundation’s Board of Trustees and is presently starting her second term, marking the first time an artist was elected to serve on its board. In 2011, she received the prestigious Jerome Robbins Award for her years in dance. She has served as a dance panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 2017, she received an award from the American Immigration Law Foundation honoring Cuban Americans for their accomplishments and contributions to American society. She also co-founded Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon in 2007—a New York-based dance company aiming to revitalize dance through innovative collaborations with important artists from the worlds of music, visual arts, design, film and fashion; and by inviting younger and broader audiences to engage in and actively experience dance.
In 2019 she was honored with Ballet Hispánico’s “Toda Una Vida” Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2021 she was awarded the prestigious “Una Vida para la Danza (A Life for Dance) by the International Ballet Festival of Miami.
Lopez is married and is the mother of two daughters, Adriel and Calliste.
Miami City Ballet
Miami City Ballet is considered a leader in the field – nurturing dancers, creating innovative collaborations, commissioning new works, presenting renowned masterworks, and opening avenues of inclusivity within classical ballet. MCB’s repertory of 100 ballets, including 13 world premieres, was built upon the Balanchine repertory, style, and technique and then expanded to include beloved classical works of critical acclaim and exciting new choreography by ground-breaking artists. MCB maintains annual seasons in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward, serving more than 100,000 patrons through four diverse repertory programs; the treasured holiday fairytale, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®; and a burgeoning roster of stateside and international touring engagements. Founded in 1985 by Toby Lerner Ansin and Founding Artistic Director Edward Villella, Miami City Ballet is universally admired as one of the world’s pre-eminent interpreters of the choreography of George Balanchine.