Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is
PBS’ award-winning American Masters series presents "Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is." It documents MTT’s life and career—from his childhood in California to his ascension to the world stage and leadership roles. Michael Tilson Thomas is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director at New World Symphony. Miami's NWS prepares graduates of music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. Michael Tilson Thomas is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director at NWS.
The documentary sheds light on formative experiences in MTT’s musical life—the central influence of his father, his first time hearing the music of James Brown, his early clashes with classical music orthodoxy—all of which shaped his personality, artistry, and goals along his path to becoming one of America’s most important musical figures.
Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting the world’s leading orchestras, MTT is also noted for his work as a composer and as a producer of multimedia projects dedicated to music education and reinventing the concert experience. He is an eleven-time Grammy Award winner whose wide-ranging discography includes more than 120 recordings, including most recently a recording of his compositions on SFS Media. His television work includes numerous performances for the BBC and PBS, broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic's Young People’s Concerts, and the series Keeping Score for SFS Media. He is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.
The film features original interviews with MTT and classical music luminaries, including composer Steve Reich; Los Angeles Philharmonic CEO Chad Smith; pianist Ralph Grierson; Boston Symphony Orchestra CEO Mark Volpe; San Francisco Chronicle music critic Joshua Kosman; the BBC’s former head of music and arts Humphrey Burton; and Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, as well as commentary from world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, with whom MTT collaborated in designing the New World Center, and Joshua Robison, MTT’s husband and partner. The documentary incorporates concert footage from his youth through the present, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony, among other orchestras. The film also includes scenes from MTT’s day-to-day life at the New World Symphony, the postgraduate orchestral academy in Miami Beach that he co-founded in 1987 to prepare young musicians of diverse backgrounds for leadership roles in classical music. Most major American orchestras count New World Symphony alumni among their ranks, and several former Fellows were interviewed for the documentary.
Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is is a production of SIMON + FILM in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Susan Froemke and Kirk Simon directed the program. Mina Farbood and Sarah Arison are executive producers. Produced by Catherine Mulry. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters. Original production funding provided by the Leslie and Roslyn Goldstein Foundation.
Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family Foundation, Seton J. Melvin, Judith and Burton Resnick, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation and public television viewers.
Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is premieres on the American Masters series Friday, October 23 at 9 p.m ET on PBS (check local listings),
pbs.org/americanmasters, and the PBS Video app. In addition to Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, PBS premieres Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony: S&M2, featuring MTT with the iconic heavy metal band, on Thursday, October 29 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).