Michael Tilson Thomas announces brain cancer diagnosis, stepping down from orchestra

The American conductor shares statement on his decision to reduce responsibilities and step down as artistic director of the New World Symphony

Published: March 3, 2022 at 9:18 am

American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has announced that he will step down from his role as the artistic director of the New World Symphony due to his brain cancer diagnosis.

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In a statement released on his website, Michael Tilson Thomas confirmed that he has been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He has 'had an operation to remove what was visible and had radiation and chemotherapy', but 'the future is uncertain'.

After taking time off last year to undergo surgery, Tilson Thomas returned to performing over the past few months with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. 'I now see that it is time for me to consider what level of work and responsibilities I can sustain in the future.'

As a result, he will be 'reducing administrative responsibilities', becoming artistic director laureate of the orchestra he co-founded and has led for 34 years. The ensemble works with young musicians to help them establish their musical career and prepare for roles in major orchestras.

Tilson Thomas will continue with his scheduled appearances and concerts in the US and Europe for the. next season. 'I intend to stick around for a bit,' he says. 'I will continue to compose, to write, and to mull over your thoughts and mine. I'm planning more time to wonder, wander, cook, and spend time with loved ones - two legged and four. Life is precious.'

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Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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