In their 2011-12 Centennial Season Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will break new ground with a far-reaching month-long American Mavericks Festival of music by pioneers of the American sound at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco March 8-18; on a national tour to Ann Arbor, Chicago and Carnegie Hall through March 30; and with educational partnerships, experiential learning and a host of new media tools to engage audiences in this music. The Festival explores the music of path-breaking composers such as Charles Ives, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Lou Harrison, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Carl Ruggles, David Del Tredici, and Edgard Varèse and builds on their visionary spirit with four world-premiere SFS commissions from John Adams, Mason Bates, Meredith Monk, and Morton Subotnick. The music of the American Mavericks Festival will feature soloists Emanuel Ax, Mason Bates, Jeremy Denk, Kiera Duffy, Paul Jacobs, Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk, and Jessye Norman, as well as Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, Newband, PARTCH, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, University of Michigan Chamber Choir, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. The American Mavericks Festival expands upon the iconic presentation of music that drew the world’s attention to Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco with the first American Mavericks Festival led by MTT in 2000.
MTT and the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony and guest soloists will perform American Mavericks Festival repertoire in both orchestral and small ensemble settings and explore the repertoire in unique partnerships with educational institutions Mills College, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Michigan, and New York area universities and conservatories. Throughout the month-long Festival the San Francisco Symphony and its American Mavericks partners will deepen listeners’ experiences by holding master classes, educational events, pre- and post-concert activities, and by offering online resources on the comprehensive AmericanMavericks.org website, a clearinghouse for materials about the music and the Maverick composers.
Throughout the month of March, WQXR, the country’s most listened-to classical music station, will present an ambitious, multimedia-rich, interactive companion programming to deepen the experience of the live performances across the country. Q2 Music, WQXR’s New York-based online station devoted to new music, will become the digital hub for an in-depth exploration of what it means to be an American Maverick. The site will feature a wide array of musical offerings, including musical offerings, archival interviews, guest curators and a special video webcast of a live event with MTT to be at the station’s innovative performance venue, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.
Michael Tilson Thomas, acclaimed for championing American composers, defines a Maverick composer as someone “…pushing boundaries and exploring new sounds, either made by traditional instruments, by introducing entirely new instruments, or by using the vocabulary of electronics or sounds generated through computer technology… it’s young thinking.” He continued: “Even though some of them may be a hundred years old, these works are still challenging and thought-provoking today and really shake up your whole conception of things. In many ways, Mavericks have a provocative, confrontational, and amusing attitude about music. Their music contains great poetry, but it also contains a two-fisted assault on your senses, and also a sense of humor. And what many of these composers have in common is their association with California, with the San Francisco Bay Area: Cage, Harrison, Cowell, John Adams, Mason Bates, all spent very important parts of their lives in San Francisco or are from here. San Francisco has always been known for its independent, left of center spirit. What better way to mark the San Francisco Symphony’s centennial season than to celebrate that creative pioneering spirit that defines this community and this Orchestra.”