Local treasure Michael Tilson Thomas celebrated his 70th birthday last night at Davies Symphony Hall, a much-buzzed-about party that turned up surprise guests Yo-Yo Ma (issuing the "turn off your cell phones" announcement over the P.A.) and President Obama (in a recorded message congratulating the conductor and musical director).
But the loudest surprise turned out to be a one-night-only supergroup of Elvis Costello, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Boz Scaggs and the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, who took the stage right before intermission to perform—what else?—the Beatles' "Birthday." Karl Sevareid and Drew Zingg rounded out the band.
The night also included Liszt's wild Hexameron, for orchestra and six (!) grand pianos, encores of the William Tell and Candide overtures, characters from Beach Blanket Babylon, hundreds of blue balloons and a slideshow featuring photos of Tilson Thomas over the years (in one young pose, resembling a dead ringer for Alfred E. Neuman).
But it was the all-star band that had everyone talking. Here's to a surprise show at Terrapin Crossroads in the near future! Whaddya say, guys?
Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Support is also provided by Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Diane B. Wilsey, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Helen Sarah Steyer, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and the members of KQED