San Francisco's own Linda Ronstadt and outgoing SF Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas will be receiving a Kennedy Center lifetime achievement honors later this year, as will the television show Sesame Street.
We’ve long known that Michael Tilson Thomas will be hanging up his baton and retiring at the end of the SF Symphony’s 2019-2020 season (though he will remain on as “music director laureate” when Esa-Pekka Salonen takes the post next year). But he’ll get one more extremely prestigious honor in the meantime, as KQED brings us the news that Tilson Thomas will receive a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement later this year. “Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score: he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century,” Kennedy Center chair David Rubenstein said in a release.
MTT is not San Francisco’s only Kennedy Center honoree this year; our own Linda Ronstadt will also receive what is considered the highest performing arts distinction in the country. The other 2019 recipients include Sally Field, the band Earth, Wind & Fire, and the TV show Sesame Street — the first time a television series has been recognized by the Kennedy Center.
Thomas has helmed the symphony since 1995, though actually made his conducting debut here way back in 1974. He’s won ten Grammy awards during his tenure here, and also serves as the artistic director of the New World Symphony academy in Miami Beach.
It’s been a rough couple of months for Thomas, though, as he recently had to take a leave of absence for heart surgery. He says the surgery was successful, and he’s expected to return for the September 4 Opening Night of the symphony’s season, and the opening of the Chase Center (alongside Metallica!) on September 6.
If you’re planning your datebook several months out, the Kennedy Center Honors will be awarded on Sunday, December 8 at 5 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on CBS.
Image: Feast of Music via Flickr