Mark Gresham | 13 OCT 2021
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announces the appointment of Nathalie Stutzmann as its fifth music director. Stutzmann follows past ASO music directors Henry Sopkin, Robert Shaw, Yoel Levi, and Robert Spano. She will be the first woman to serve as the ASO’s music director and only the second to lead a major American orchestra.
Stutzmann will be conducting two ASO programs this season as music director designate before beginning her initial four-year term as music director with the 2022-23 season.
The first of those two programs will be performed tonight and tomorrow night, October 13 and 14, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino, and the U.S. premiere of Dark with Excessive Bright by Missy Mazzoli, with violinist Peter Herresthal as soloist.
Stutzmann will then return in the spring of 2022 on March 17, 18, and 20 to lead the ASO in performances of Mozart’s Requiem, featuring the ASO Chorus, and the tone poem Death and Transfiguration by Richard Strauss.
During the pandemic-laden 2020-21 season, Stutzmann conducted the ASO in three virtual performances, released as part of the orchestra’s Behind the Curtain video concert series.
Stutzmann is currently the principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a three-year post she began just this season. She is also in her fourth season as chief conductor of Norway’s Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, which has recently extended her tenure through the end of thew 2022-23 season. From 2017 to 2020, she served as principal guest conductor of Ireland’s RTE National Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Stutzmann founded the chamber orchestra Orfeo 55, performing as both soloist and conductor while serving as its artistic director until it ceased operations in April 2019.
This morning’s press release quotes Stutzmann regarding her appointment as ASO music director:
It is a privilege to be named music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The ASO musicians’ devoted commitment to music touches my heart. They have beautiful open minds, and they love to work hard and be challenged, taking the risks necessary to serve the music and connect to audiences at the deepest emotional level. There is a special chemistry between the orchestra and me that we all immediately recognized, and this is the perfect time for us to deepen our relationship. After doing such wonderful work with Robert Spano over the past 20 years, the orchestra is in top shape, and I look forward to working with this incredible ensemble to chart new artistic territory. As a singer, I am also thrilled about the prospect of working with the ASO Chorus, which is one of America’s finest choirs. We are planning several ambitious projects, including performances of Mozart’s Requiem in March 2022 and of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, a life-changing experience for any orchestra, during the 2022-23 season. It is also very important for us to connect with the Atlanta community, sharing our infectious love of music. Fulfilling the community’s hopes and expectations is a huge responsibility and a legacy that I am honored to continue.
Stutzmann studied conducting with Finnish pedagogue Jorma Panula and was mentored by Seiji Ozawa and Sir Simon Rattle. Like many in the profession today, Stutzmann’s core repertoire as a conductor is rooted in 19th-century Romanticism, ranging from Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Dvořák to the larger symphonic works of Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Mahler, Bruckner, and Richard Strauss, as well as orchestral works of the French impressionists.
Possessing a history of professional vocal performance as an esteemed contralto, Stutzmann has also established a strong reputation as an opera conductor. She was scheduled to make her Metropolitan Opera debut this very month with Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, in advance of this week’s ASO performances. Unfortunately, the Met was obliged to cancel those performances “to accommodate the necessary technical preparations [for the season] after more than 16 months of closure,” according to a statement from the company as reported in July by Norman Lebrecht.
Nathalie Stutzmann’s professional website can be found at nathaliestutzmann.com. ■
➤ Nathalie Stutzman conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra tonight and tomorrow night (October 13 & 14) in music by Verdi, Mazzoli, and Tchaikovsky. More info and tickets at aso.org