SF Symphony celebrates start of Tilson Thomas's final season as director

It was a black-tie affair at the San Francisco Symphony Wednesday night as they rolled out the pink carpet in honor of their world-renowned conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.  

“He's had such an incredible career and history with the Symphony and I wish him all the very best. I'm excited to be a part of his last first time,” said Melinda Hightower of San Francisco. 

It was a who's who of Bay Area die-hard classical music connoisseurs; all on hand to celebrate Thomas' 25th and final season as music director of the San Francisco Symphony.  It's a post he's held since 1995. 

“I know the maestro from the old days when he was the protégé [of Leonard Bernstein],” said Barbara Cohen of San Francisco.

Thomas is the 11th person to head the orchestra. He first debuted with the San Francisco Symphony in 1974. Friday night, he will get yet another honor as Thomas will lead the orchestra as they play along with a legendary Bay Area band, albeit from a different genre, in San Francisco's newest arena.  

“The relationship we've crafted with the symphony is very special," said Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts. "Being the very first event at the new Chase Center with Metallica."

“It’s really an honor for me to be here and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully he will see how much he's appreciated in this city.  By all the love and support that everybody has here for him said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott.  

“It is really great to see you and it beats the hell out of the alternative.  My gosh, the 25 years went by in such a flash,” said, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

This time next year Esa Pekka Salonen will replace Thomas as the Symphony’s 12th Music Director in its 107-year history.

“I doubt very much that the symphony will change. How important it has become to the city. I believe it will stay as important no matter who is leading the band,” said Cohen.