Robert Spano. 2020-21 will be his 20th and final seas as ASO music director. {Image courtesy of ASO.)

Atlanta Symphony announces 2020-21 season, Spano’s 20th and final as music director

EarRelevant Staff | 31 MAR 2020

ATLANTA, GA—  Within the hour after high noon today, music director Robert Spano and principal guest Conductor Donald Runnicles announced the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 2020/21 season, which will celebrate Robert Spano’s 20th and final season as music director and the 50th anniversary of the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Following the one-night ASO Gala on September 12, in a concert of Berstein and Rachmaninoff featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov, Spano will lead the orchestra in 10 classical subscription programs, launching the series on Sept. 24 and 26 with violinist Gil Shaham performing Korngold’s Violin Concerto. Then on Nov. 19 and 21, Spano will conduct Mendelssohn’s Elijah, featuring the ASO CHorus He will return to the podium on Jan. 14 and 16 to lead an all-Liszt program featuring longtime collaborator Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and again the following week on Jan. 21, 23 and 24, to conduct Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Pedja Mužijević.


On Feb. 18 and 20, he will lead the world premiere of Adam Schoenberg’s Concerto for Orchestra followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Yefim Bronfman. The following week (Feb. 25 and 27) Spano leads another world premiere, Michael Gandolfi’s Piano Concerto performed by Marc-André Hamelin. The program will also include two pieces by Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man and Symphony No. 3.

In April 2021, Spano will conduct two subscription concerts plus a one-night special, beginning on April 15 and 17 with Brahms’ Violin Concerto featuring Robert McDuffie, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. On April 18 he will lead the orchestra in a one-night only appearance by Yo-Yo Ma in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1. Then on April 22 and 24, Spano will lead Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and a world premiere from Jonathan Leshnoff, The Sacrifice of Isaac.

On June 3, 5 and 6, Spano and the Orchestra will welcome Garrick Ohlsson as soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The program opens with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Spano will then lead the ASO’s 76th season closer, marking the end of his tenure as music director, on June 10 and 12 as Robert Spano leads the Orchestra and Chorus in Mahler’s colossal Symphony No. 3, featuring mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

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Principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles will conduct four programs at Symphony Hall plus an appearance of the ASO at the 2021 Savannah Music Festival.

The ASO will also welcome Jerry Hou to its conducting staff. Hou will step into the post of ASO associate conductor and music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra this September, succeeding Stephen Mulligan, who completes his three-year term with the ASO in June.

Thirteen guest conductors will join the ASO in the new season, including Cristian Măcelaru, Edward Gardner, Andrew Manze, Hannu Lintu and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Kazuki Yamada, Han-Na Chang, Andrey Boreyko, Maxim Emelyanychev, Ryan Bancroft, Nathalie Stutzmann, Eun Sun Kim and Shiyeon Sung will make their ASO conducting debuts.

Eight guest artists will make their ASO debuts in the 2020/21 season, including Naomi Sato (shō), Seong-Jin Cho (piano), Seth Parker Woods (cello), Alexander Melnikov (piano), Kian Soltani (cello), Alexander Gavrylyuk (piano), Cédric Tiberghien (piano) and Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano).

From the home team, four ASO musicians will be featured as soloists in the 2020/21 season. principal bassoon Andrew Brady makes his ASO subscription solo debut with John Williams’ The Five Sacred Trees;, associate concertmaster Justin Bruns will reprise Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, concertmaster David Coucheron will take center stage for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 and principal clarinet Laura Ardan will be featured in a special program celebrating the Atlanta School of Composers.

To commemorate Robert Spano and the ASO’s commitment to performing new music, the ASO will introduce 17 new works into the Orchestra’s repertoire during the 2020/21 season, including six world premieres commissioned by the ASO: Gity Razaz’s And the brightest rivers glide…, Adam Schoenberg’s Concerto for Orchestra, Michael Gandolfi’s Piano Concerto, Jonathan Leshnoff’s The Sacrifice of Isaac, Mark Buller’s The Parallactic Transits and a new work by Krists Auznieks.

Three Thursday pre-concert chamber recitals will return in the 2020/21 season on Nov. 5, Feb. 4 and April 29. Details TBA. Free to ticketholders for the week’s subscription concerts.

See the complete chronological list of concerts at Symphony Hall and at the Savannah Music Festival listed below.

View or download the ASO’s 2020/21 Season brochure or visit the 2020/21 Season Concerts & Tickets web page for additional information. ■


Includes Subscription, Holiday and Family Concerts. All are at Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, unless otherwise noted. Additional concerts at regional universities and elsewhere around the community will be announced in upcoming months.
* denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debut
** denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra subscription debut
† denotes world premiere
± denotes U.S. premiere
‡ denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiere
ͨ§ denotes a 6:45pm pre-concert chamber recital


SAT 09/12 @ 7pm
Symphony Gala
Robert Spano, conductor
Daniil Trifonov, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
RACHMANINOV: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

THU 09/24 @ 8pm
SAT 09/26 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Gil Shaham, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2


THU 10/8 @ 8pm
SAT 10/10 @ 8pm
Kazuki Yamada, conductor*
Louis Lortie, piano
Naomi Sato, shō*
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
MOZART: Idomeneo Overture
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 16
TAKEMITSU: Ceremonial: An Autumn Ode ‡

THU 10/15 @ 8pm
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Norman Mackenzie, conductor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

SAT 10/17 @ 8pm
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Yeree Suh, soprano
Seong-Jin Cho, piano*
RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso
UNSUK CHIN: snagS&Snarls ‡
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 3

THU 10/22 @ 8pm
SAT 10/24 8pm
Han-Na Chang, conductor*
Benjamin Beilman, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1
MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition

SUN 10/25 @ 1:30pm & 3pm
Family Concert: Halloween at Hogwarts
Jerry Hou, conductor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra


THU 11/5 @ 8pm ͨ§
SAT 11/7 @ 8pm
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
Andrew Brady, bassoon**
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
JOHN WILLIAMS: The Five Sacred Trees
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

THU 11/19 @ 8pm
SAT 11/21 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Cooley, tenor
Nmon Ford, baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra


THU 12/3 @ 8pm
SAT 12/5 @ 8pm
Andrey Boreyko, conductor*
Baiba Skride, violin*
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
USTVOLSKAYA: Symphonic Poem No. 2
VICTORIA BORISOVA-OLLAS: A Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake ±
TCHAIKOVSKY: Selections from Sleeping Beauty

SUN 12/6 @ 1:30 & 3pm
Family Concert: The Snowman
Jerry Hou, conductor

FRI 12/11 @ 8pm
SAT 12/12 @ 3pm and 8pm
SUN 12/13 @ 3pm
Christmas with the ASO
Norman Mackenzie, conductor
Morehouse College Glee Club
Gwinnett Young Singers

WED 12/16 @ 8pm
Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor*
Seth Parker Woods, cello*
Gwinnett Young Singers
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
PROKOFIEV: Suite from Lieutenant Kijé
TYSHAWN SOREY: Cello Concerto ‡
TCHAIKOVSKY: Selections from The Nutcracker

THU 12/17 @ 8pm
FRI 12/18 @ 8pm
Norman Mackenzie, conductor
Vocal soloists TBA
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
HANDEL: Part I and “Hallelujah!” Chorus from Messiah


THU 1/2 @ 8pm
Jerry Hou, conductor
Justin Bruns, violin
Patricio Touceda & Eva Lucero, tango dancers
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
VIVALDI: Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) PIAZZOLLA: Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires)

THU 1/7 @ 8pm
SAT 1/9 @ 8pm
Ryan Bancroft, conductor* Dejan Lazić, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
DERRICK SPIVA JR.: Prisms, Cycles, Leaps (Part I) ‡
DAWSON: Negro Folk Symphony
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2

THU 1/14 @ 8pm
SAT 1/16 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Richard Clement, tenor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Men’s Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (orch. Liszt/Doppler)
LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 2
LISZT: A Faust Symphony

THU 1/21 @ 8pm
SAT 1/23 @ 8pm
SUN 1/24 @ 3pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Pedja Mužijević, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 2
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique


THU 2/4 @ 8pm ͨ§
SAT 2/6 @ 8pm
Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor*
David Coucheron, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
DVOŘÁK: Slavonic Dances Nos. 1, 2 and 8
MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 3
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2

THU 2/13 @ 8pm
Jerry Hou, conductor
Alexander Melnikov, piano*
Kian Soltani, cello
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
GITY RAZAZ: And the brightest rivers glide… (ASO commission) †
CLARA SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture

THU 2/18 @ 8pm
SAT 2/20 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
ADAM SCHOENBERG: Concerto for Orchestra (ASO commission) †
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3

THU 2/25 @ 8pm
SAT 2/27 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
MICHAEL GANDOLFI: Piano Concerto (ASO commission) †
COPLAND: Symphony No. 3


THU 3/4 @ 8pm
SAT 3/6 @ 8pm
Eun Sun Kim, conductor*
Alexander Gavrylyuk, piano*
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3
RACHMANINOV: Symphonic Dances

THU 3/11 @ 8pm
SAT 3/13 @ 8pm
Edward Gardner, conductor
Cédric Tiberghien, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

THU 3/18 @ 8pm
SAT 3/20 @ 8pm
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Leah Crocetto, soprano
Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano*
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”

SUN 3/21 @ 1:30 & 3pm
Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf
Jerry Hou, conductor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

THU 3/25 @ 8pm
FRI 3/26 @ 8pm
Donald Runnicles, conductor
James Ehnes, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
AARON KERNIS: Musica Celestis ‡
SHOSTAKOVICH: Violin Concerto No. 1
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5

SAT 3/27 @ 7pm
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Savannah Music Festival
Lucas Theatre for the Arts in Savannah, GA
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
AARON KERNIS: Musica Celestis ‡
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5


THU 4/8 @ 8pm
SAT 4/10 @ 8pm
Shiyeon Sung, conductor*
Ray Chen, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
HANNAH KENDALL: weaves flowers and leaves ±
SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No. 3
BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra

THU 4/15 @ 8pm
SAT 4/17 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Robert McDuffie, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4

SUN 4/18 @ 7pm
One night only special
Robert Spano, conductor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
BORODIN: “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor
BORODIN: Symphony No. 2
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1

THU 4/22 @ 8pm
SAT 4/24 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
James Laing, countertenor
John Tessier, tenor
Russell Braun, baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
BERNSTEIN: Chichester Psalms
JONATHAN LESHNOFF: The Sacrifice of Isaac (ASO commission) †

THU 4/29 @ 8pm ͨ§
SAT 5/1 @ 8pm
Hannu Lintu, conductor*
Stephen Hough, piano
KAIJA SAARIAHO: Laterna Magica ‡
SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Egyptian”
STRAVINKSY: Petrushka (1947)


THU 5/6 @ 8pm
SAT 5/8 @ 8pm
Andrew Manze, conductor*
Augustin Hadelich, violin
ANNA CLYNE: New Work †
BRITTEN: Violin Concerto
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Symphony No. 6 ‡

THU 5/20 @ 8pm
SAT 5/22 @ 8pm
SUN 5/23 @ 3pm
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
GINASTERA: Violin Concerto
SARASATE: Carmen Fantasy


FRI 6/4 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Laura Ardan, clarinet
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
MARK BULLER: The Parallactic Transits (ASO commission) †
KRISTS AUZNIEKS: New Work (ASO commission) †
MICHAEL GANDOLFI: The Nature of Light
JENNIFER HIGDON: “river sings a song to trees” from Cityscape
MICHAEL KURTH: Everything Lasts Forever

THU 6/3 @ 8pm
SAT 6/5 @ 8pm
SUN 6/6 @ 3pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 3

THU 6/10 @ 8pm
SAT 6/12 @ 8pm
Robert Spano, conductor
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Gwinnett Young Singers
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER: Symphony No. 3