Tilson Thomas resigns from New World Symphony

By Lawrence Budmen

Michael Tilson Thomas announced his resignation from the New World Symphony on Wednesday

Michael Tilson Thomas is stepping down as artistic director of the New World Symphony, the Miami Beach based musical academy that he co-founded with cruise magnate and philanthropist Ted Arison.

In an open letter released on Wednesday, Tilson Thomas revealed, for the first time, details of his previously reported health crisis. In August, he had an operation for brain cancer, followed by a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. 

Tilson Thomas said he has Glioblastona Multiforme, which he described as “an aggressive type of brain cancer” and “a stealthy adversary.” He noted that, although it is now in check, “its recurrence is the rule rather than the exception.”

He will now become artistic director laureate of the ensemble, which has over 1,200 alumni, playing in major orchestras and chamber groups across the globe. 

“I’m taking stock of my life and will be reducing my administrative responsibilities. I have decided that, after 34 years, I will be stepping down a artistic director,” he wrote, adding that he will continue to work with New World fellows and alumni on “adventurous projects that are close to my heart.” He also said that he will continue to write and compose.

The conductor has led 20 concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony — of which he is former music director — in recent months, but cancelled his February appearances with the New World Symphony including a Berg-Beethoven program and part of a festival devoted to the Harlem Renaissance. 

His website lists two dozen scheduled performances in coming weeks with the Montreal Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and the Cleveland Orchestra.

The New World Symphony says he will conduct the season’s concluding performances of Mahler’s 5th Symphony on May 6 and 7. Mahler has long been a Tilson Thomas specialty.

“I intend to stick around for a bit,” Tilson Thomas wrote. “Creating and collaborating to make great music is what it’s all about for me.”


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Thu Mar 3, 2022
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