Michael Tilson Thomas Conducts the Music Academy Chamber Orchestra

MAW Orchestra Plays Brahms, Wagner

Into the Music: Michael Tilson Thomas conducts from the midst of the Academy Chamber Orchestra. | Credit: Phil Channing

Further proof of the pandemic era’s exit strategy arrived when famed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas stepped on the Granada Theatre stage, leading the young but stellar Academy Chamber Orchestra. MTT’s grand entrance as conductor with the Music Academy of the West was delayed by a year, making Saturday’s arrival all the sweeter.

We enjoyed a wistful remembrance of orchestral things past, treated to a savory, sharply realized summer supper of African-American composer William Grant Still’s Patterns, Richard Wagner’s sensuous Siegfried Idyll, and the sunny bonhomie of Johannes Brahms’s Serenade No. 2.

Experientially, the concert was actually more moving than Thursday’s Mosher Guest Artist concert by cellist Steven Isserlis, whose masterful playing of Bach, Bloch, and Dvořák came in a sterile, pre-recorded package, on-screen in Hahn Hall. Screen fatigue may be getting the best of music lovers’ patience.

Meanwhile, in the Granada, under the exuberant, real time/real space circumstances, even a peskily creaking podium — which MTT teasingly acknowledged — couldn’t dampen the ample charm of this orchestral night out. 


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