As I approach the final concerts of my tenure with the ASO, I find myself flooded with memories. With the bookend years as Music Director Designate and as Co-Artistic Advisor, it has been my great honor to have made music with the incomparable musicians of the ASO for twenty-two years.
We’ve suffered through tumultuous times, celebrated joyous occasions, and persisted in our pursuit of musical excellence, but the memories foremost in my mind as we approach our final performances are of the beauty we were able to create together.
I remember countless performances of the composers at the heart of our symphonic tradition, as well as all the living composers who have been such an important part of our culture, including our own Michael Kurth. The Atlanta School of Composers is a stellar array of leading voices in the arena of today’s music. With the ASO Chorus, whose great legacy lives on with the brilliant leadership of Norman Mackenzie, we have re-engaged great masterpieces and explored new vistas: the Bach Passions with exquisite scenic installations from Anne Patterson, operatic adventures from La Bohème to Doctor Atomic with the creative dynamism of director James Alexander, recordings ranging from Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony to Christopher Theofanidis’s The Here and Now with our beloved Telarc-ian Elaine Martone, and the extraordinary beauty brought by Laurie Stallings and her moving artists to Orfeo.
When I joined the ASO, I was looking forward to the depth of mutual understanding that can evolve only with time, and that gift has been one of my life’s great joys – but I was also intent on promoting the orchestra’s role in the cultural life of our city. We have had amazing experiences of connection: the healing concerts in the wake of 9/11 in 2001; performing the National Anthem at the opening game of the Atlanta Falcons; having the honor of playing for the homegoing service of Coretta Scott King.
The inestimable power of great music on stage could not happen without the investment of so many others: our passionate audiences, our devoted leaders and staff, our committed volunteers, our generous donors. I am filled with gratitude!
I have had the great gift over these decades of having as friend and colleague Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles, and as we turn over the keys to new musical leadership, I am thrilled to be handing them to Nathalie Stutzmann. She is a musician of great intensity and integrity; I know the ASO is in good hands. I look forward to returning in the future to hear the ongoing evolution of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Mahler’s Third Symphony is an uncannily apt vehicle for me to express my gratitude to everyone for one of my life’s great experiences – my time with the ASO! Its movements form a “great chain of being” in celebration of life. The first portrays inchoate nature as well as the awakening of life, and the succeeding ones bring messages from the flowers, the animals, mankind, and the angels, culminating in the glorious last movement “What love tells me”. It is with deep and abiding love to ALL of my ASO family, that I say: