Robert Spano returns to Carnegie Hall on April 30 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, joined by soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford, bringing the New York premiere of Zohar. This oratorio by Jonathan Leshnoff is co-commissioned by the ASO and Carnegie Hall to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the choral giant Robert Shaw and honors his ties to Carnegie Hall. The date is significant as April 30, 2016 would have been Robert Shaw’s 100th birthday. The second half of the program features the Brahms Requiem. Now in his fifteenth season with the ASO, Robert Spano makes his ninth appearance at Carnegie Hall over 12 consecutive seasons with this performance.
The immeasurable and lasting influence of Robert Shaw, ASO Music Director from 1967-1988, is still felt by musicians and concertgoers today, 100 years after his birth. Deeply committed to musical expansion and engaging communities with art, Shaw’s numerous ambitions for the Orchestra and its service to Atlanta brought the ASO to the forefront of artistic and cultural innovation. Throughout his 21-year tenure as Music Director, Maestro Shaw programmed and commissioned more contemporary pieces than Atlanta had ever seen; his dedication to racial equality eventually led to the integration of black musicians into the all-white Orchestra as well as to the board of directors. Due to the orchestra’s increased popularity as a cultural hub and Shaw himself, the importance of a choral program that matched the orchestra’s level of excellence rose naturally, with the ASO Chorus officially forming in 1970 and debuting at Carnegie Hall just six years after its inception. The ASO Chorus has made numerous returns to Carnegie since then, solidifying not just its place as one of the nation’s most beloved vocal ensembles, but of Shaw’s legacy as one of the great musical progressives of the 20th century.
Continuing the celebration of Shaw’s centennial, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will release a live recording of Shaw conducting the ASO and ASO Chorus in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony from May 21, 1988 - Robert Shaw’s final concert in Atlanta as Music Director. This recording will be for sale in the Atlanta Symphony Store, at Carnegie Hall, and will be released on the ASO Media label on April 29 –http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CYTL27Y
In keeping with the ASO’s fervent commitment to new music, Maestro Spano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its Chorus return to Carnegie Hall for the New York premiereperformance of the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s oratorio Zohar. Commissioned by Robert Spano, the ASO, Carnegie Hall, and the Deborah A. Kahn and Harris N. Miller Charitable Fund to commemorate Shaw in his centennial year, Zohar is written for solo soprano and baritone, chorus, and orchestra. “Zohar” is the Hebrew word for “brightness” or “radiance”. At the start of Leshnoff’s Zohar, the Chorus proclaims the Hebrew text “Hamaskilim yizaharu k’zohar harakiyah” (translated, “The wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.” [Daniel 12:3]). Zohar is also the title of the collection of books that comment upon the mystical aspects of the Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch), and served as the basis for Kabbalah. Jonathan Leshnoff’s Zohar is an exploration of the mystical concept of the relationship between a finite man/universe and an eternal God.
Last year, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with Spano at the helm triumphed in closing Carnegie Hall’s Britten Centennial with a riveting performance of Britten’s War Requiem, described by The New York Times as “unusual for a Carnegie Hall festival to conclude after a five-month lag. But the gripping, organic and sensitive performance Mr. Spano led was worth the wait. The Atlanta Symphony played with rich, varied colorings and incisive control for Mr. Spano....”
Committed to the expansion of new music and the livelihoods of contemporary composers, Maestro Spano is honored with the 2016 Champion of New Music Award presented by the American Composer’s Forum on April 16. He is responsible for nurturing the careers of a great many young, talented performers, composers, and conductors. In the 2013-2014 season, Spano performed Mr. Leshnoff’s Monica Songs on a five-concert tour, concluding with a performance at Carnegie Hall, with longtime frequent collaborator Ms. Rivera; Mr. Ford has also performed on multiple occasions under Mr. Spano’s baton.
ROBERT SPANO, CONDUCTOR
Saturday, April 30, 8:00 PM
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Nmon Ford, baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
LESHNOFF: Zohar (world premiere)
BRAHMS: A German Requiem
PREVIOUS CARNEGIE HALL ENGAGEMENTS
2013-2014: Britten War Requiem with Soprano Evalina Dobracheva, Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, Baritone Stephen Powell, ASO Chorus & Brooklyn Youth Chorus
2012-2013: Golijov La Pasion Segun San Marcos / Messaien Des canyons aux etoiles with Ensemble ACJW Copland, Walton, Bernstein program with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
2011-2012: Program including premiere of Salonen Nyx with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra / Bach & Messaien program with Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Pianist with Bass-Baritone Eric Owens in Zankel Hall
2010-2011: Berlioz Requiem honoring 20th season of Carnegie Hall’s Choral Workshops / Elgar Galogalitic Masswith Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
2009-2010: Angel Lam premiere with Yo Yo Ma & Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
2008-2009: Golijov Ainadamar with Orchestra of St. Luke’s & “Bernstein Fest” with Zankel Band
2007-2008: Christopher Theofanidis The Here and Now premiere with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
2005-2006: Verdi Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
2003-2004: Vaughan-Williams A Sea Symphony with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor, pianist, composer and pedagogue Robert Spano is known for his unique communicative abilities. In 15 seasons as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, this imaginative conductor has quietly been responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous classically-trained composers and conductors. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs, including Aspen’s American Academy of Conducting.
The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements have included orchestras such as the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Philadelphia symphony orchestras, along with Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His opera performances include Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera productions of Wagner’s Ring Cycles.
Maestro Spano began the 2015-16 season conducting the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan as part of a gala performance celebrating Seiji Ozawa’s 80th birthday. With the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra he leads four world premieres, seven Atlanta premieres and celebrates the centennial of the legendary Robert Shaw’s birth with Brahms’ Requiem and Leshnoff’s Zohar in Atlanta and at Carnegie Hall. Additional guest conducting engagements include the Minnesota Orchestra, the Oregon, Utah and Kansas City symphonies, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, Orquestra Sinfonica Estado Sao Paulo and the Melbourne Symphony in Australia. Maestro Spano also holds a conductor residency with the Colburn School Orchestra in Los Angeles. As a pianist, he joins Wu Han and Alessio Bax for a program of piano masterworks as part of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s residency at the University of Georgia in Athens.
With a discography of critically-acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and ASO Media recorded over nine years, Robert Spano has won six Grammy®™ Awards with the Atlanta Symphony. Spano is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University and Oberlin. Maestro Spano is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and is proud to live in Atlanta.