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Birthday gala set for symphony conductor

Dec. 15, 2004 at 11:14 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Symphony announced Tuesday a special gala concert celebration of the 60th birthday of its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Jan. 13 concert will feature some of the top vocal artists in the nation, all personal friends of Thomas, including Rene Fleming, Frederica von Stade, and Thomas Hampson of New York's Metropolitan Opera and Audra McDonald, a Tony Award-winning Broadway star and concert atisgt. Other musical surprises will be announced later.

Thomas is celebrating his 10th season with the San Francisco Symphony this year. He is founder of the New World Symphony, the Miami, Fla., orchestra for young professional musicians, and is principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. In the course of 40 years on the podium, he has conducted most of the major symphonies of the world.

In honor of Thomas' birthday, the symphony has established the Michael Tilson Thomas First Performances Endowment Fund to support commissions, first performances of works new to the orchestra, and production costs for major projects.

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