MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is resigning as artistic director of the New World Symphony after 34 seasons with the orchestra, wanting to lessen administrative responsibilities as he deals with a brain tumor.
The 77-year-old had surgery last August for the tumor. He has conducted 20 concerts since then with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony.
“Making music with these great artists and for so many friends in the audience felt like coming home, like coming back to life. I couldn’t have been happier,” he wrote in a letter to friends that he made public Wednesday.
“It takes strength to meet the demands of the music and to collaborate on the highest level with the remarkable musicians who so generously welcomed me. I now see that it is time for me to consider what level of work and responsibilities I can sustain in the future.”
Tilson Thomas said he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive tumor.
“Currently the cancer is in check. But the future is uncertain as glioblastoma is a stealthy adversary. Its recurrence is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception,” he wrote. “I’m taking stock of my life and will be reducing my administrative responsibilities.”
Tilson Thomas will become the New World Orchestra’s artistic director laureate and intends to work with orchestra fellows and alumni on projects. He did not give a specific date for the changes.
“I look forward to my work the remainder of this season with orchestras in the United States and Europe and to the many musical collaborations planned for next season,” Tilson Thomas wrote. “I intend to stick around for a bit. Creating and collaborating to make great music is what it’s all about for me. Every moment on stage with my colleagues is memorable.”