Michael Tilson Thomas, better known as MTT, has had a long, storied career with the San Francisco Symphony, imbuing its programming with his love of Mahler and innovative ideas, such as the experimental, youthful SoundBox series. After 22 years with the organization, Thomas announced his departure in 2017. In December 2018, the symphony welcomed his replacement, Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, who conducted several concerts with the symphony as the music director designate earlier this year.
Today, the San Francisco Symphony announced MTT's final season, which kicks off on Sept. 4, 2019. Among the highlights are world premieres of newly commissioned works by a number of risk-taking contemporary composers, including 2019 Grammy winner Mason Bates, Girls of the Golden West composer John Adams, experimental vocalist and multimedia artist Pamela Z and MTT himself.
The season also includes residencies with soprano Julia Bullock, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter; a new SoundBox season curated by MTT, Bullock and Missy Mazzoli; an 11-city European tour; and performances of masterworks, including a semi-staged production of Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) and a series of concerts celebrating of Beethoven's 250th birthday.
"From my very first encounter with the San Francisco Symphony in 1974, I was aware of the daring spirit of this Orchestra and this city," Thomas said in a statement. "That spirit has been very much at the center of our long and meaningful relationship. When you come into an orchestra, you sense the personal qualities in that orchestra. It takes a very special environment of people who have worked together and deeply trust one another to make music magical, and that is what has happened these last 25 years. This season is very much about celebrating the relationships we have built together."
The 2019-2020 season's full schedule of programming can be found on the San Francisco Symphony's website.