• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment
American Mavericks home page
About American Mavericks
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director, San Francisco Symphony

American Mavericks is a groundbreaking new radio and Internet series produced by American Public Media in association with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The radio program was released in April 2003. Inspired by the adventurous programming of the San Francisco Symphony and its concert festival of the same name, American Mavericks features the iconoclastic, tradition-breaking composers who shaped the development of American music-from Charles Ives, Henry Brant, Harry Partch, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich and more.

The 13-week radio series tells the story of the distinctly American music that grew along with the country. Interviews with composers and performers and discussion with San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas highlight this celebration of musical inspiration and creativity. In tandem with the radio series, the program incorporates a rich Web component that contains extensive streaming audio, extended interviews, and opportunities to participate in the creativity of the maverick composers.

Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega, renowned for her musical innovation, hosts this gathering of entertaining and compelling stories, personalities and performances. Vega is a pop-folk music icon who, as a vanguard singer-songwriter in the 1980s, cleared the way for a wave of female artists that followed. Known for her musical and lyrical inventiveness, Vega has a strong interest in classical music and has influenced such classical composers Peter Schickele, Philip Glass and Aaron Jay Kernis. Her literate, understated songs include the Grammy-nominated single "Luka," which broke new ground in the pop charts, written, as it was, from the viewpoint of a child abuse victim. Vega is the executive producer of, and a contributor to Vigil, a September 11 tribute album by members of the Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange. Her most recent solo release, Songs in Red and Gray (2002), is a critically acclaimed return to her acoustic music roots.

The American Mavericks radio series began incubating at American Public Media in the fall of 2001. Producer Tom Voegeli has directed a talented and dedicated staff in designing the program's approach and sound, both on the radio and the Web, and has spanned the continent gathering recordings and interviews. Contributors include some of the most prominent names in contemporary American music:


  • Kyle Gann, the program's writer, is music critic for the Villiage Voice, and long-time commentator on contemporary American music.
  • Charles Amirkhanian, who among other contributions guided the producers through the substantial archive of music and voices in the KPFA archive.
  • Vivian Perlis and the Yale Oral History American Music collection.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas Artistic Director and conductor of the San Francisco Symphony who originated the American Mavericks concert series on which the radio program is based.
  • Dozens of composers, performers and artists in other disciplines, many of whom are well known to the those familiar with current classical music, but remain relatively unknown to the general public.

American Mavericks is written, produced and mixed by Tom Voegeli, based on original essays by Kyle Gann. The Executive Producer is Sarah Lutman and the Managing Producer is Mary Lee. The associate producers are Alan Baker and Gabrielle Zuckerman. The musicmavericks.org Web site is produced by Preston Wright with graphic design by Ben Tesch. The recording engineer for the San Francisco Symphony is Jack Vad.

End of file

 ©2019 American Public Media