Robert Spano leads the ASO in the opening concert of its 75th anniversary season. (credit: Rafterman Photography)

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announces 2021/22 season, return to live concerts in Symphony Hall

Mark Gresham | 6 MAY 2021

At noon today the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announced its 2021-22 season, including the orchestra’s return to concerts with live audiences in Symphony Hall.

Robert Spano

Robert Spano (photo: © Michael Brands)

Robert Spano, who steps down from his post as music director on August 31, will assume the title of music director laureate. He will continue sharing the role of artistic adviser with principal guest conductor Sir Donald Runnicles has renewed his ASO contract through the 2022/23 season.

Sir Donald Runnicles  (image:

Sir Donald Runnicles (image:

Together Spano and Runnicles have programmed an imaginative 2021/22 season that ramps up the orchestra’s programming diversity and its championship of new music while maintaining a solid dedication to the core classical repertoire. Spano will conduct seven programs and Runnicles will conduct six in the new season.

Twelve guest conductors will join the ASO this season. Returning are Gemma New, James Gaffigan, Carlos Kalmar, Nathalie Stutzmann and Nicola Luisotti. Making the ASO conducting debuts are Kazuki Yamada, Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, Dmitry Sinkovsky, Shiyeon Sung, Juanjo Mena, Alexander Soddy and Jonathon Heyward.

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Spano takes the podium to launch the new season on Sept. 9, 10 and 11, 2021, with an all-Beethoven program featuring the composer’s Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) with pianist Garrick Ohlsson as soloist.

Four one-night special concerts will take place across the season feature top soloists:

  • Nov 19: A Celebration of American Composers conducted by Robert Spano will feature pianist Marc-André Hamelin
  • April 13: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform Dvořák’s Cello Concerto
  • May 8: A recital featuring British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason
  • May 21: Atlanta Symphony Gala performance featuring legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman

Other esteemed returning guest soloists include pianists Stephen Hough, Saleem Ashkar and Michelle Cann, violinists Stefan Jackiw and Midori, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, double bassist Xavier Foley, guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, mandolinist Avi Avital, soprano Georgia Jarman, mezzo-sopranos Kelley O’Connor and Denyce Graves, tenor Clay Hilley, baritones Reginald Smith and Stephen Powell, and bass Burak Bilgili.

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Nine more guest artists will make their ASO debuts in the 2021/22 season: soprano Jacquelyn Stucker, mezzo-soprano Tichina Vaughn, soprano Jasmine Habersham, violinist Peter Herresthal, soprano Michaela Martens, soprano Martina Jankovà, mezzo-soprano Sara Mingardo, tenor Kenneth Tarver and soprano Michelle Bradley.

In addition, six ASO musicians will also be featured as soloists in the new season: principal bass Joseph McFadden and principal viola Zhenwei Shi each make their subscription debuts. Concertmaster David Coucheron, principal harp Elisabeth Remy Johnson, principal cello Rainer Eudeikis and principal oboe Elizabeth Koch Tiscione.

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The ASO will introduce 18 new works into their repertoire during the 2021/22 season, including four world premieres commissioned by the ASO: Michael Gandolfi’s Piano Concerto, Mark Buller’s The Parallactic Transits; Krists Auznieks’ Sub Rosa as well as a new concerto for double bass written and performed by Talent Development Program alumnus Xavier Foley. A fifth world premiere will be a new Violin Concerto by Conrad Tao. Te ASO’s new music programming will also include three U.S. premieres and 10 first -time performances by the orchestra.

The mighty Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus will return to the stage for the first time in 2022, two years after the pandemic first inhibited choral performances. They are scheduled to sing the Requiems of Mozart (March 17 & 18) and Duruflé (April 28 & 30). The Women of the ASO Chorus, along with eh Gwinnett Young Singers, will help close out the season with Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Robert Spano conducting and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor (June 9, 11 & 12) – a work that was originally intended to close the 2020-21 season.

Safety measures for live ASO concerts will be based on latest information from the CDC and other health officials, including mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and capacity. Another helpful safety factor is that over the past year, significant improvements have been made to the airflow system in Atlanta Symphony Hall. More information about safety, seating and security in Symphony Hall will be released in advance of opening night.

As a complement to live performances in the 2021/22 season, the ASO will continue to offer its Behind the Curtain Virtual Concert Series. Subscribers to the Delta Classical Series automatically receive complimentary virtual access. Virtual memberships only may also be purchased. More information can be found at

However, not all plans for the season are firm just yet. The new season’s Coca-Cola Holiday Concerts will be announced in the coming months as will the Family Concert Series. All Family Concerts will be led by ASO associate conductor and Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra music director Jerry Hou.

The most up-to-date listings and announcements for the 2021/22 Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE concerts, which are not included in the classical subscription series, can be found at ■

ASO 2021/22 SEASON
Delta Classical Series Concerts

  • September 9, 10, 11, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Garrick Ohlsson, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5
    BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5
  • September 17, 18, 2021 Fri/Sat: 8pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Stefan Jackiw, violin
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    R. STRAUSS: Don Juan
    CONRAD TAO: Violin Concerto †
    ALVIN SINGLETON: Different River
    R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegel
  • September 23, 25, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Shi-Yeon Sung, conductor*
    Joseph McFadden, ASO principal bass**
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    HAYDN: Symphony No. 102
    VANHAL: Double Bass Concerto‡
    BRAHMS: Serenade No. 2
  • October 13 and 14, 2021 Wed/Thu: 8pm
    Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
    Peter Herresthal, violin*
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    VERDI: Overture to La forza del destino
    MISSY MAZZOLI: Dark with Excessive Bright ±
    TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5
  • October 21, 23, 24, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm, Sun: 3pm
    Juanjo Mena, conductor*
    Midori, violin
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    JAMES LEE III: Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula
    TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto
    SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 4
  • November 4, 6, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    James Gaffigan, conductor
    Alisa Weilerstein, cello
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    RAMEAU: Suite from Les indes galantes
    JOHN ADAMS: The Chairman Dances
    RAVEL: Mother Goose
  • November 18, 20, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Marc-André Hamelin, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
    MICHAEL GANDOLFI: Piano Concerto (ASO Commission) †
    COPLAND: Symphony No. 3
  • November 19, 2021 Fri: 8pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Marc-André Hamelin, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    KRISTS AUZNIEKS: Sub Rosa (ASO Commission) †
    MICHAEL GANDOLFI: Piano Concerto (ASO Commission) †
    MICHAEL KURTH: Everything Lasts Forever
  • December 2, 4, 2021 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    Jacquelyn Stucker, soprano *
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    MELODY EÖTVÖS: The Deciding Machine ‡
    STRAUSS: Four Last Songs
    BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1
  • December 5, 8, 2021 Sun: 3pm, Wed: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    Kelley O’Connor, Hansel
    Jacquelyn Stucker, Gretel
    Tichina Vaughn, Witch
    Stephen Powell, Father
    Michaela Martens, Mother*
    TBA, Sandman/Dew Fairy
    Gwinnett Young Singers
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    HUMPERDINCK: Hansel and Gretel
  • January 13, 15, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Kazuki Yamada, conductor*
    Stephen Hough, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    MOZART: Overture to Idomeneo
    SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 4
    TAKEMITSU: Requiem
    SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 5
  • January 20, 22, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Gemma New, conductor
    Miloš Karadaglić, guitar
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    SARAH GIBSON: warp & weft ‡
    JOBY TALBOT: Ink Dark Moon ±
    RACHMANINOV: Vocalise
    SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5
  • January 27, 29, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, conductor
    Saleem Ashkar, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    BOULANGER: Of a Spring Morning
    GRIEG: Piano Concerto
    TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”
  • February 3, 5, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Carlos Kalmar, conductor
    Ksenija Sidorova, accordion
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    JESSIE MONTGOMERY: Records from a Vanishing City ‡
    PIAZZOLLA: Aconcagua
    SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”
    JOSEF STRAUSS: Music of the Spheres
  • Feb 10, 12, 13 Thu/Sat: 8pm, Sun: 3pm
    Dmitry Sinkovsky, conductor, violin and countertenor *
    Georgia Jarman, soprano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    VIVALDI: Violin concerto, Il favorito, RV 277 ‡
    HANDEL: “Io t’abbraccio” from Rodelinda ‡
    HANDEL: “Caro! Bella!” from Giulio Cesare ‡
    MOZART: “Dove sono?” from The Marriage of Figaro
    MOZART: Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”
  • February 24 and 26, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    Zhenwei Shi, Principal Viola**
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    JAMES WILSON: The Green Fuse ±
    WALTON: Viola Concerto
    MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 3, “Scottish”
  • March 3, 5, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    Michelle Cann, piano
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    PRICE: Piano Concerto in One Movement ‡
    MAHLER: Symphony No. 1
  • March 17, 18 Thu/Fri: 8pm
    Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
    Martina Jankovà, soprano*
    Sara Mingardo, mezzo-soprano*
    Kenneth Tarver, tenor*
    Burak Bilgili, bass
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    STRAUSS: Death and Transfiguration
    MOZART: Requiem
  • March 24, 26 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Jonathon Heyward, conductor
    Xavier Foley, double bass
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3
    XAVIER FOLEY: Double Bass Concerto (ASO Commission) †
    SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 9
  • March 31, April 2, 3, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm, Sun: 3pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Avi Avital, mandolin
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    MARK BULLER: The Parallactic Transits (ASO Commission) †
    JENNIFER HIGDON: Mandolin Concerto ‡
    RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade
  • April 13, 2022 Wed: 8pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Yo-Yo Ma, cello
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”
    DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto
  • April 21, 23, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    David Coucheron, ASO concertmaster
    Elisabeth Remy Johnson, ASO principal harp
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    BRUCH: Scottish Fantasy
    BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
  • April 28, 30, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Donald Runnicles, principal guest conductor
    TBA, mezzo-soprano
    TBA, baritone
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
    DEBUSSY: Nocturnes
    DURUFLÉ: Requiem
  • May 8, 2022 Sun: 3pm
    Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello
    Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano

    BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonata No. 4
    SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Sonata
    BRIDGE: Cello Sonata
    BRITTEN: Cello Sonata
  • May 12, 14, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Alexander Soddy, conductor *
    Rainer Eudeikis, ASO principal cello
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    ANNA CLYNE: Sound and Fury
    SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1
    ELGAR: Enigma Variations
  • May 19, 20, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Nicola Luisotti, conductor
    Michelle Bradley, soprano*
    Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
    Clay Hilley, tenor
    Reginald Smith, baritone
    TBA, bass
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    VERDI: Aida, Act III
  • May 21, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Nicola Luisotti, conductor
    Itzhak Perlman, violin
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4
    VERDI: Overture to I vespri Siciliani
    BRUCH: Violin Concerto
  • May 26, 28 Thu/Sat: 8pm
    Nicola Luisotti, conductor
    Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, ASO principal oboe
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    MARCELLO: Oboe Concerto
    BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4
  • June 9, 11, 12, 2022 Thu/Sat: 8pm, Sun: 3pm
    Robert Spano, music director laureate
    Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
    Gwinnett Young Singers
    Women of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    MAHLER: Symphony No. 3

* denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debut
** denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra subscription debut
† denotes world premiere
± denotes U.S. premiere
‡ denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premieres

Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer for EarRelevant. He has been a music journalist for over 30 years, and a composer of music for much longer than that.