The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director, Robert Spano, announced that he will conclude his distinguished tenure with the orchestra in June 2021, the ASO said in a press release.
One of the longest-tenured music directors of a major U.S. orchestra, the 2020-2021 season will be Spano’s 20th season with the group, the release said. Additionally, Spano is one of only four music directors to lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra during its 75-year history. Following his departure, Spano will become conductor laureate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and will continue to conduct the orchestra on a regular basis.
“To end an intense artistic relationship is never an easy decision to contemplate, especially one as fruitful and inspiring as the one I have enjoyed as Music Director of this outstanding American orchestra,” Spano said. “I believe that together, many shared goals and dreams have been achieved. After these many years of great personal and artistic fulfillment, this is an institution that I deeply love: our devoted board members, our committed staff, our enthusiastic audiences, our talented youth orchestra, our magnificent chorus, and of course, all these extraordinary musicians who constitute the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to many return visits in the years ahead.”
Spano has had extensive influences on the ASO and orchestras nationwide. According to the release, more than 40 percent of the current members of the ASO joined under his directorship. He has mentored numerous assistant conductors who have become music directors for numerous ensembles across the country, and he served as an Emory University Distinguished Artist in Residence for a three-year term from 2010-12.
Under Spano’s leadership, the orchestra also performed at Carnegie Hall nine times and has taken tours to the Kennedy Center and several notable music festivals.
In addition to shaping the current sound of the orchestra, Spano was integral to the ASO’s recent financial turnaround, the release said. After two work stoppages in 2012 and 2014, he helped bring resolution by co-chairing the Musicians’ Endowment Campaign, which raised more than $27 million to fund eleven restored positions in the orchestra in perpetuity, exceeding the $25 million goal and finishing two years ahead of schedule. The orchestra has reported a budget surplus for three consecutive seasons.
“It is a tremendous privilege to work with Robert Spano, one of the preeminent minds in American music,” Jennifer Barlament, Executive Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, said. “His masterful grasp of the orchestral idiom, of what it takes to bring the music to life, and of what it takes to engage the community in the adventure of new music, make him one of the most significant voices in the orchestral world. In addition, his sense of humanity, humility and generosity make him an inspiring collaborator. His impact on this institution and this city cannot be overstated and will continue for generations to come.”
During his tenure, the orchestra has performed approximately 28 ASO commissions, 13 ASO co-commissions, 49 world premieres and 32 Atlanta and U.S. premieres, according to the release. In 2016, Spano was awarded the American Composers Forum’s Champion of New Music Award, and of the orchestra’s 20 recordings led by Spano, six received Grammy® Awards.
A committee will be formed to begin the search for Spano’s successor. In the meantime, the season will continue under his leadership.
“Under Robert Spano’s leadership, the worldwide artistic reputation of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has risen to new heights,” Howard Palefsky, Board Chair, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, said. “Although he will leave his post as Music Director after the 2020-21 season, I know his vision, passion and creativity will serve as a catalyst, continuing to strengthen the orchestra over time. We look forward to announcing the ASO’s plans to honor Robert’s tremendous legacy to the ASO, Atlanta, and the classical music community.”