Michael Tilson Thomas
© Brigitte Lacombe

American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has announced that after 34 years, he will be stepping down as the Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, an organization, which he co-founded with Lin and Ted Arisen. The reason MTT gives is his medical diagnosis. He says: « I have Glioblastoma Multiforme, a type of aggressive brain cancer. I had an operation to remove what was visible and had radiation and chemotherapy. Currently the cancer is in check. But the future is uncertain as Glioblastoma is a stealthy adversary. Its recurrence is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception. I’m taking stock of my life and will be reducing my administrative responsibilities. »

The conductor also says in a letter to the New World Symphony: « My return to performing these last months has been very special. The 20 concerts with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony were heartwarming. Making music with these great artists and for so many friends in the audience felt like coming home, like coming back to life. I couldn’t have been happier.

It takes strength to meet the demands of the music and to collaborate on the highest level with the remarkable musicians who so generously welcomed me. I now see that it is time for me to consider what level of work and responsibilities I can sustain in the future. »

MTT is looking forward « to my work the remainder of this season with orchestras in the United States and Europe and to the many musical collaborations planned for next season. I intend to stick around for a bit. Creating and collaborating to make great music is what it’s all about for me. Every moment on stage with my colleagues is memorable. I want to thank all who have been supportive during this time, especially my husband Joshua Robison. He has always been by my side and is, as ever, my hero.

I will continue to compose, to write, and to mull over your thoughts and mine. I’m planning more time to wonder, wander, cook, and spend time with loved ones – two legged and four. Life is precious.

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