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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 aso.org.
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.org/LIVE. ■
ASO 2021/22 SEASON
Delta Classical Series Concerts
* denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debut
** denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra subscription debut
† denotes world premiere
± denotes U.S. premiere
‡ denotes Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premieres