Keeping Score with MTT





October in our fair city is definitely a-buzz. Last week, San Francisco swayed to the sounds of the renown Bluegrass Festival. This weekend, it's President's Cup golf tourney and the Blue Angels.

But with the season’s lengthening shadows and rain on the horizon, doesn’t a night at home listening to great music sound divine?

Well pull up your comfy chair and grab the remote because SF Symphony maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and KQED serve up fabulous music, and more, this month on Keeping Score.

To celebrate the second season of this lively music education series, developed and dreamed up by MTT, the Symphony hosted a screening party last month at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio.

Passing an iconic fountain in the Letterman courtyard which is topped with a sculpture of George Lucas’ beloved Yoda, we could not help but think the location most appropriate as MTT reigns as a Jedi Master within the spheres of classical music.

Joking around in the pre-screening crowd, rock ‘n’ roll maestro Ben Fong-Torres vamped that he, also, is known as, Mr. Classical Music.

“You know, songs like, Roll over Beethoven. Or, I Hear a Symphony,” teased Fong-Torres.

“Don’t forget Classical Gas,” chimed in Hoyt Smith, a host at KDFC Classical 102.1.

Each show travels the world to focus on a famous composer and provides viewers with an intimate glimpse into their lives -- from biographic and musical details to the cultural influences at play during a piece’s composition.

“Shooting the series is fun,” said Tilson Thomas, who serves as the series dynamic host. “But it’s also very exhausting.”

MTT was delighted with the party’s turnout, teasing: “This is such a great crowd. It’s amazing who shows up if you offer free food!”

Taking our seats in the surround-sound theater, Symphony President John Goldman welcomed the crowd and explained that, aside from a great series about iconic musicians, the true dynamism of Keeping Score is its multi-pronged presence that reaches folks through its website, its public school music education programs and its easy access via public television and radio.

As the screen flickered to life, it was clear that Keeping Score is also a heckuva good time.

The trailer from Music Born of Fear: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (airs Oct. 29)? Simply riveting.

Also fun? Within the Aaron Copland segment (airs in November) exploring the uniquely American sound influences which inspired the composer is a cameo shot of Joshua Robison playing harmonica.

And wait, isn’t that the music room of Ann and Gordon Getty where MTT is glimpsed during the Hector Berlioz (airs Oct. 15) segment?

But the series’ far-flung locales and top-notch production values don’t come cheap: some $2 million in additional funding is needed to complete season 3.

The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund is one of the series’ biggest supporters. And fund President Ira Hirschfield was filmed explaining the fund’s commitment to the series: “Keeping Score is the opportunity for Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra to bring the power and emotion of classical music to millions of people, many of whom may not have ever had the chance to hear it in a symphony hall. I don’t know that there is another organization in the country that could have created something like Keeping Score.”

Also on board? Such super supporters such as Nan Tucker McEvoy, John and Marcia Goldman; Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; William and Gretchen Kimball Fund; Lisa and John Pritzker; Dede Wilsey; Lynn and Tom Kiley; Anita and Ronald Wornick; Cissie Swig; and Margaret and Edward Collins.

“Post a Citizen Kane influence, much of Keeping Score is inspired by my own personal Rosebud,” explained Tilson Thomas, after the screening. “Whether you’re a musical novice or a veteran, what I love about this series is that it’s as if we’re sitting on a piano bench, casually talking about about a piece of music.”

(Keeping Score begins airing 7 p.m. on Mon., Oct. 12. Check your KQED listings for additional shows and airtime)

Check out more photos below

ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff and SF Symphony Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas

Joshua Robison, Stanlee Gatti and SF Symphony President John Goldman


Dagmar and Ray Dolby



Davia Nelson, author Amy Tan and her husband, Lou DeMattei


Anita and Ron Wornick with Michele Corash


Francesca Gessner and her mom, Eleanor Bertino


Lynn Bunim and Alexander Fetter



SF Symphony Orchestra percussionist Tom Hemphill and his wife, Regan Hemphill


Hoyt Smith, Dianne Nicolini and Ben Fong-Torres








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