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Since Michael Tilson Thomas joined the San Francisco Symphony as Music Director thirteen years ago, the symphony has become one of the most vital, exciting orchestras on the international scene. Tilson Thomas is an unabashed champion of twentieth-century American music, and has been praised for his innovative programming with the symphony. He has received eight Grammy awards for the San Francisco Symphony's recordings of Mahler, Prokofiev and Stravinksy. In March 1996, Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their ten national tours together; they continue to tour every year and perform regularly in Europe, Asia and throughout the United States. Among his many honors are Columbia University's Ditson Award for services to American Music, the American Music Center's Letter of Distinction, the President's Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and, in 2005, an induction into the Classical Music Hall of Fame. In June 2008, Tilson Thomas presented "The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Jewish Theatre" at Davies Symphony Hall. The multi-media performances celebrated his grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, pioneers of the American Yiddish theater.

Steven Winn is the Arts and Culture Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He co-authored Great Performances: A Celebration. He is a frequent contributor to Good Housekeeping, Modern Maturity, Parenting, Sports Illustrated and other magazines.

Official Website: http://www.cityarts.net/n.tilson.thomas.html

Added by paigekparsons on October 25, 2008