News Briefs: Breed proposes honorary street name for MTT

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023
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Former San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas. Photo: Brandon Patoc via SF Symphony
Former San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas. Photo: Brandon Patoc via SF Symphony

Former longtime San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas may have a street block ceremonially named in his honor after Mayor London Breed proposed the legislation last week.

Tilson Thomas, a gay man, is suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was appointed music director of the symphony in 1995 and served in that role for 25 years. He recently returned to the podium at Davies Symphony Hall, now as the orchestra's music director laureate, and conducted the symphony in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Breed announced the proposal October 24. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, it would designate one block of Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue — adjacent to the symphony hall — as "MTT Way" in recognition of Tilson Thomas' "tremendous impact on the city's local arts and culture," a news release stated. The honorary MTT Way sign would hang underneath the official Grove Street sign, the release added. No street addresses would need to be changed under the proposal.

"The story of the classical music, arts, and culture scenes in San Francisco is intertwined with the artistic journey of Michael Tilson Thomas," the mayor stated. "Today, we not only recognize him as a vital part of the cultural makeup of the city, we also celebrate the fact that he has been San Francisco's proud ambassador on the world stage."

Tilson Thomas, 78, led the symphony on national and international tours during his tenure. He frequently collaborated with Bay Area luminaries, composers, and bands, the release noted. He also helped expand the symphony's education initiatives, affecting the lives of countless young people in San Francisco and beyond, as part of his commitment to education and mentorship of youth. He created the acclaimed multimedia education series "Keeping Score" in 2014, making classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds.

Tilson Thomas stated he appreciates the recognition.

"What a tremendous honor and what fantastic fun," he stated. "I will always treasure that symphonygoers will pick up their Davies Symphony Hall tickets, and that ballet and operagoers will get their after-performance transportation on 'MTT Way.' I am honored for this recognition, and I thank the City and County of San Francisco and Mayor Breed for their contributions to the arts and to my life."

Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's recordings — many of them released through the symphony's own SFS Media label, which launched under Tilson Thomas' leadership — have been recognized with 12 Grammy Awards. He is an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, member of the American Academies of Arts and Sciences and Arts and Letters, National Medal of Arts recipient, Peabody Award winner, Kennedy Center Honoree, and a member of the California Hall of Fame.

Dr. Nasser "Nas" Mohamed is a new board member of SF Pride. Photo: Dan Nicoletta  

SF Pride announces new board members
The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has announced new board members and returning executive officers.

The winners of the election for three open board seats are Dr. Nasser "Nas" Mohamed, Adell Hanson-Kahn, and Joshua Smith. Executive officers Nguyen Pham, president; Janelle Luster, vice president; Spring Collins, secretary; and Robert Louis, treasurer, were voted unanimously by the board to continue in their leadership roles, a news release stated.

"I'm proud and honored that our board has voted unanimously in favor of continuity of SF Pride's top leadership," stated Pham, a gay man who was elected board president last year.

Mohamed, who, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, served as a community grand marshal in June's Pride parade, received 85 votes. Mohamed is believed to be the first Qatari to publicly come out as gay, which he did in 2022 when he spoke out about the abuses against LGBTQ Qataris in his former homeland in an interview with the BBC. He's a primary care physician who runs the LGBTQ-affirming Osra Medical in San Francisco.

Hanson-Kahn, a software engineer, received 80 votes, while Smith, who is queer, garnered 64 votes to be reelected.

The release noted that the recent election marks a return of a majority of trans or nonbinary individuals to the board.

"SF Pride's board elections are not just a democratic process, they represent the heartbeat of our organization" stated Suzanne Ford, a trans woman who is executive director and a former board member. "We are thrilled to welcome these exceptional individuals who will bring fresh perspectives and energy to our leadership. Their diverse voices and the unity of our reelected executive committee ensure that we continue to champion the values of inclusion and progress at the core of our mission."

Next year's San Francisco Pride parade and celebration will take place June 29-30. For more information, visit

Castro Art Mart is Sunday
The monthly Castro Art Mart will take place Sunday, November 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 Noe and Market streets in the LGBTQ neighborhood.

People can visit booths and local shops while supporting local artists, listening to live music, and watching live drag performances. Restaurants will be open, serving food and drinks.

Artyhood SF is one of the organizers, and the event is supported by the Castro Merchants Association.

Nominations open for LGBTQ sports award
The will take place in Las Vegas January 11-14, and organizers have announced that nominations are now open for the third annual Ken Scearce Leadership Award. Scearce was executive director of the popular LGBTQ+ sporting event and passed away suddenly in 2021. The award recognizes an individual whose leadership and dedication has bettered their local LGBTQ+ sports league, a news release stated.

The award will be presented at the festival.

"Ken was dedicated to expanding the LGBTQ+ sports community, stated Sin City Classic co-directors Larry Ruiz and Jason Peplinski. "He worked tirelessly to grow the Sin City Classic and make sure all athletes were able to compete and have fun in a safe and welcoming environment."

The Sin City Classic, which was started in 2008 by the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association, has grown to include 24 sports and approximately 10,000 athletes and fans, the release stated.

The organizing committee of the event will determine the winner of the leadership award based on a number of criteria. These include that the individual is always a "team player," putting the needs of the team first; dedicated to growing their sport within the LGBTQ+ community; leads by example; and gives back to the LGBTQ+ community.

Nominations for the Ken Scearce Leadership Award can be submitted here. The deadline is November 30.

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