Music: Bird with Inward Fire

Striding onstage, shoulders hunched forward, elbows flapping at the side, Prince Charles hair sliding forward over one eye, Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas looks like a big bird impersonating an adolescent. Mounting the podium, this shambling creature bows low—to the audience, to the orchestra—then, in some sort of mystical transformation, comes up a man. With a snap, the backbone locks firmly into place. The right hand is suddenly holding the baton high over the head. Slowly, powerfully, the left hand rises like a warning semaphore. Quickly, precisely, the right hand gives the downbeat.


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