Sunday June 16, 1996
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francicso
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts
An American Festival
Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Vince Welnick, (Bob Bralove,)
and Michael Tilson Thomas (on MIDI piano):
"Space" for Henry Cowell
Setlist information from ftp://gdead.berkeley.edu/pub/gdead/set-lists/06.16.96
Source: AUD (unknown mics/deck)> ? > DAT > CDR via David Minor
Source: FM(GDH) > DAT > CDR via David Minor
Encoding: EAC > Cool Edit > CDWAV > mkwact > SHN(seekable) by Matt Vernon
length expanded size cdr WAVE probs filename
12:31.57 132610508 --- -- --- phil96-06-11d1t01.wav
15:29.69 164037932 --- -- --- phil96-06-11d1t02.wav
28:01.51 296648440 B (totals for 2 files)
Here's a section of the interview David Gans did with Phil about this piece
Gans: One of the things that I brought in for us to listen to this evening is a performance that you and some of your bandmates did with the San Francisco Symphony last year.
The Friday and Saturday programs were that long John Cage thing ["Renga with Apartment House"], but on Sunday, you guys got together with Michael Tilson Thomas. Let's talk about that a little bit.
Lesh: Well, that was the second program in Michael's "American Festival," and it was a marathon performance. It started, I think, at 2:30 in the afternoon and went till about 8:00, and it was a program of mostly short pieces, by local -- well, international, but centered around local/East Bay/West Coast/California maverick composers who weren't really considered part of the so-called mainstream. Lou Harrison was one of them, Varese was another, Steve Reich.... Meredith Monk performed, and there were several piano pieces performed that were written by Henry Cowell, who was, in a way, the sort of patriarch of this whole West Coast experimental scene. He was writing outrageous tone-cluster music at age 17 in the early part of this century, in the 'teens and '20s.
At the end of it, Mickey, Bob, Vince, myself, and Michael Tilson Thomas collaborated on a group improvisation, which was based on themes that Henry Cowell had composed, and that had been heard earlier in the program as part of the regular performance. This was a great deal of fun to do, especially to watch Michael really cut loose. I don't think he gets a chance to cut loose, playing the piano, very often.
Gans: Tell us a little about Michael Tilson Thomas. He's new-ish to the San Francisco Symphony --
Lesh: Yeah, he's been the music director here now for -- this is the end of his second season coming up. And he's been a guest conductor here many times, through the '80s and early '90s. In a way, he's a protege of Leonard Bernstein; he was involved with the Tanglewood conductor's course, back in the late '60s, early '70s. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and he comes from a long line of performers and artists who I think are originally Russian. Their name was Tomashevsky, originally. He's been conducting all over the world for 25, 30 years, and he really brings a considerable amount of flair and panache to the San Francisco Symphony, which was, in my opinion, sorely in need of the same. The music director previous to Michael, Herbert Blomstedt, was an extremely competent and well-versed conductor, especially with the meat-and-potatoes Central European repertoire. That was his forte, and that was what was performed most often during his tenure, although there was a lot of contemporary music as well, to Herbert's credit.
But Michael now has -- in his first season, for instance, in every concert that he conducted there was an American piece performed, which means essentially contemporary music, because most American concert music dates from, at the earliest, the end of the 19th century. Michael is the kind of guy who has rhythm; he has rock'n'roll in his soul, whether he really plays it or not. And I think you'll hear that in this performance. I have certainly been enlightened by his interpretations of classic works from the late 19th century/early 20th century, because of this groove that he's able to elicit from an orchestra.
Gans: So what we'll hear now is Michael Tilson Thomas introducing the piece and making reference to the Henry Cowell piece that had just been heard, and then it'll be Phil, Bobby, Mickey, and Vince, jammin' with MTT. And this was recorded at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on June 16, 1996, and it has taken us this long to get it out, in digits, get permission to play it, get you in here to talk about it, and here it is, folks. Thanks for waiting.