Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, Jessye Norman grew up amid the challenges of Jim Crow racism with the Civil Rights Movement just beginning to awaken. Nurtured by a close family and tight-knit community centered on the local church, Jessye was always surrounded by song and spirituality. Decades later, after a meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, a long-delayed debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and forays into spirituals, blues, jazz, and other roots music, she has become one of America’s most beloved performers. Her new memoir is Stand Up Straight and Sing!
As Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas has been credited for both musical excellence and adventuresome programming. The conductor, pianist, and composer is especially appreciated for his Gustav Mahler recordings, as well as his PBS series Keeping Score. MTT is also Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony. He was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1969. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He has appeared as a guest conductor with major orchestras across Europe and the United States.