Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) conducts the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in concerts March 15–17, giving the world premiere performances of SFS-commissioned Sudden Changes by Charles Wuorinen, celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday and his long-standing friendship with MTT. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Charles Wuorinen’s many honors include a 1986 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize in Music.
In an interview with Cultural Currents, he reflected on his time as the San Francisco Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence from 1985 to 1989.
“Some of my most rewarding musical experiences came during the years I was the San Francisco Symphony’s composer-in-residence, some 25 years ago, so it is a great joy again to be composing a new work for these wonderful musicians. And of course I have known and admired Michael Tilson Thomas for almost 50 years; renewing a collaboration we have had over these years is deeply gratifying.”
Wuorinen composed Sudden Changes as a light-hearted overture, using fragments from his opera Haroun and the Sea of Stories. One should not think that bodies of water are his inspiration, however.
“The children’s book on which it is based is really about relationships and a fantasy conjured by Salman Rushdie,” he says.
It is interesting to note that Wuorinen shares same birthday as the popular bygone composer, Cole Porter.
“I’m looking forward to turning 80, and have a great many memories of San Francisco to cherish as I grow older,” he says.