ISOMATA & Michael Tilson Thomas: 1964 Youth Symphony Orchestra

April 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

by Sydney Cosselman, Krone Museum Director

Last week, I happened to catch Michael Tilson Thomas on PBS conducting the San Francisco Symphony at 100 Concert. He looked as youthful and passionate as ever and the concert was delightful. Michael, as you may or not know, was here as a student from USC in 1964 and took part in ISOMATA’s 1964 Youth Symphony Orchestra concert tour to England and Wales.

The tour was by invitation of Dorothy Adams-Jeremiah, Music Supervisor from Monmouthshire County, Wales, and one of the founders of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. She met Max and Bee in the summer of 1962 while teaching music at Claremont College. During the summer of 1963, Dorothy came to Idyllwild to teach at ISOMATA. She then invited the ISOMATA youth orchestra to join the Welsh youth orchestra for concerts in Wales. The ISOMATA group also performed on their own in London and Wales. The tour was planned by Dorothy, Max Krone, and Ralph Matesky. Other supporters were Ernie and Betty Maxwell and Joe and Marguerite Clapp. According to Max it was considered “an experiment in music as a force for creating international understanding and good will.” Money for the trip was raised by students and parents, and on March 14, 1964, over seventy students and chaperones left Los Angeles for London.

This brings me back to Michael. During the trip the conductor, Ralph Matesky became ill, and in 1990 Bee Krone writes:

“We do not know whether this instance was the first “fill in” in the career of Michael Tilson Thomas, but it happened in 1964, in Wales, at a Newport Concert. The Youth Symphony Orchestra was scheduled for a concert with Conductor Ralph Matesky. The trip was highly successful, but Mr. Matesky caught a bad cold and the Newport Concert had to be turned over to the “fill-in” Assistant, the young Oboe player, Mike Thomas. He did a fine job of conducting, and saved the day for the orchestra and the delighted audience.” The rest is history…

I remember reading in an article by Ross Drake that this actually happened again during a concert in 1969 when Boston’s Symphony’s director, William Steinberg became ill during a concert. It seems that he missed most of the season giving Michael the opportunity to gain more experience. 

Entry filed under: alumni, museum, Music Stuff. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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