Full Biography 2013-2014

Conductor, pianist, composer, and pedagogue Robert Spano is one of the most imaginative talents of his generation. Serving Atlanta as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2001, he has created a sense of inclusion, warmth and community that is unique among American orchestras.   As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students, including Aspen’s American Academy of Conducting.

=Under Maestro Spano’s guidance, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and audiences explore a creative programming mix.  The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music, defining a new generation of American composers.  Robert Spano has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai and Savannah Music Festivals.  Guest engagements include the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras, as well as Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  He has conducted for Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera Ring cycles.  

Robert Spano will make three appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall this season in varied programming.  This is the fourth consecutive season in which Maestro Spano has been presented by the prestigious venue in more than one medium – and will mark the eighth time that Maestro Spano leads his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium.   In October, he joins the American Composers Orchestra for a concert of Ian Williams, Christopher Theofanidis, Peter Fahey and Julia Wolfe.  Mr. Spano steps off the podium and joins soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor as pianist for recitals at UC Berkeley, Pepperdine University, Kennesaw State University, the Constella Festival in Cincinnati and Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall.  In April 2014, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus join Maestro Spano for a performance of Britten’s War Requiem.  Additional guest appearances are with the Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonia de Galicia, Tampere Philharmonic and two weeks of performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Robert Spano is also an artistic curator at the Ojai Festival for a second season in June 2014. 

=In addition to his work on the podium and at the piano, Robert Spano has continued to focus on composition.  In 2014, Mr. Spano will release a digital recording of his solo piano work, under water, and a cycle of five songs written for soprano Jessica Rivera.  In addition to the recording, Mr. Spano and Ms. Rivera will perform the first three songs of the cycle in recital at Pepperdine University. 

In his 13th season as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano has programmed five world premieres as well as six Atlanta premieres.  An ASO commission by Atlanta School of Composers member Michael Gandolfi and works by Mark Grey, Philip Lasser, Richard Prior and Charles Zoll reflect Mr. Spano’s and the Orchestra’s commitment to defining a new generation of American composers by nurturing and championing their music through multi-year partnerships. Appealing to his passion and skill as a pianist, as well as his special chemistry and camaraderie with principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles, both gentlemen join forces for Ravel’s La valse and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring as featured piano soloists.  The season culminates with a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida

Robert Spano’s extensive discography of 21 recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and ASO Media has garnered six Grammy Awards.   An all-Sibelius recording is planned for release in November 2013.  Dedicated to pedagogy and multi-disciplinary studies, he has lectured on “Community” for TEDx and recently completed a three-year residency at Emory University. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Mr. Spano serves on the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory, and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University and Oberlin. Spano served as director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Music Center in 2003 and 2004, and from 1996 to 2004 was Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He headed the Conducting Fellowship Program at the Tanglewood Music Center from 1998 to 2002. In May 2009, Spano was awarded Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music.

Born in Conneaut, Ohio, and raised in Elkhart, Indiana, he is a graduate of Oberlin, where he studied conducting with Robert Baustian, continuing at the Curtis Institute of Music with the late Max Rudolf.   He  has been featured on CBS’s “Late Night with David Letterman” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” Robert Spano was named Musical America’s 2008 “Conductor of the Year” and is proud to live in Atlanta.  


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