ROBERT SPANO is recognized as one of the brightest and most imaginative conductors of his generation. Now in his eighth season as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he has enriched its repertoire and elevated the ensemble to new levels of international prominence.
In his distinguished career, Spano has conducted the greatest orchestras of North America, including those in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Among the orchestras he has led internationally are the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, the Czech Philharmonic, the Berlin Radio Sinfonie Orchestra, the BBC Scottish and BBC Symphony Orchestras, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the New Japan Philharmonic, and the Oslo Philharmonic. He has appeared with the opera companies of Chicago and Houston, as well as at the Santa Fe Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Welsh National Opera. In August 2005, he conducted an internationally renowned cast in three cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Seattle Opera. This success led to his immediate re-engagement to lead the company’s next Ring cycles in 2009.
Spano opened the ASO’s 2008/09 season with two weeks celebrating the music of “The Three Bs” – Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven. The ASO will also present its American Originals festival, featuring music by American composers and works by foreign composers who lived and worked in the U.S. Premieres and commissions include a world-premiere ASO co-commission by Wynton Marsalis, a world-premiere commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra of a symphony by Christopher Theofanidis, Jennifer Higdon’s The Singing Rooms with violinist Jennifer Koh, and concert performances of the Atlanta premiere of John Adams’ Dr. Atomic. All three commissions will be recorded for Telarc. Another special project for Robert Spano in Atlanta is Joseph Haydn’s The Creation, a collaboration with set designer Anne Patterson.
With a discography of 12 critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc and Deutsche Grammophon recorded over six years, Spano has garnered six Grammys. Recent recordings include Osvaldo Golijov’s Three Songs, Oceana, and Ainadamar, the latter of which received two 2006 Grammy awards. 2008 saw the release of three Spano-led recordings – Michael Gandolfi’s The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Brahms’ Requiem, and a live concert recording of Puccini’s La bohème.
In addition to his demanding performance schedule, Spano is a strong advocate for music education. He was head of the Conducting Fellowship Program at the Tanglewood Music Center from 1998-2002, and he is a professor of conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory. He was Music Director of the 2006 Ojai Festival and appears frequently at the Aspen Music Festival.
An accomplished pianist, Robert Spano performs chamber music with his colleagues from the Atlanta Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Oberlin Conservatory. Born in 1961 in Conneaut, Ohio, and raised in Elkhart, Indiana, he grew up in a musical family, composing and playing flute, violin, and piano. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied conducting with Robert Baustian, and continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with the late Max Rudolf. In 2004, Spano performed his own music at Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music. He was named Musical America’s 2008 Conductor of the Year.