Conductor, pianist, composer and teacher Robert Spano is renowned worldwide for his artistry, musicianship, and his superb and distinctive communication skills.
The 2020/21 season sees him commence his 20th season as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and his first as Principal Guest Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, who have just appointed him Music Director, effective August 2022. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School since 2011, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programmes for 630 students and young performers. An avid mentor to rising artists, he is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors and performers.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s programmes have included Spano’s rich and diverse pairings of contemporary works and cherished classics, welcoming seasoned guest artists and many new faces. The orchestra’s 75th season featured numerous ASO premières including works by Krists Auznieks, Jessie Montgomery and Jennifer Higdon, and a world première by Brian Nabors. The season opened with Joshua Bell, who performed Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen.
Highlights of Mr Spano’s 2019-2020 season included return visits to the Dallas and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras, and to the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the world première of Dimitrios Skyllas’s Kyrie eleison, commissioned by the BBC. Conducting debuts included the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
The 2018-2019 season featured Mr Spano’s highly acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut, with the US premiere of Marnie by American composer Nico Muhly, and the conclusion of the ASO’s two-year ‘LB/LB’ project, commemorating Leonard Bernstein and Ludwig van Beethoven.
In addition to his performances with the ASO, Robert Spano recently returned to his early love of composing. His most recent work, Sonnets to Orpheus, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano, will be premiered in November 2020, featuring Kelley O'Connor, mezzo, and Robert on piano. Other recent compositions have included Sonata: Four Elements for piano and a song cycle, Hölderlin-Lieder, for soprano Jessica Rivera. Both works were recorded on the ASO Media label, and were highly acclaimed. The Atlanta School of Composers (a group of composers whose work Spano has championed with the ASO) reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music.
He has conducted all of the major North American orchestras, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and his international work has included conducting the BBC Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan. His opera performances have included productions at Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Seattle Opera, where he has twice conducted the Ring cycle.
With a discography of critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and ASO Media, he has received six Grammy Awards with the Atlanta Symphony. He is on the faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University and Oberlin. Robert Spano is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.