Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO)


The Woodruff Arts Center
Former name Atlanta Youth Symphony
Founded 1945
Concert hall Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center
Principal conductor Robert Spano

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is an American orchestra based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Robert Spano has been its music director since 2001. The ASO's main concert venue is Atlanta Symphony Hall in the Woodruff Arts Center.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Orchestra large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin, viola, cello, and double bass, as well as brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

Atlanta Capital of Georgia, United States

Atlanta is the capital of, and the most populous city in, the U.S. state of Georgia. With an estimated 2017 population of 486,290, it is also the 38th most-populous city in the United States. The city serves as the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 5.8 million people and the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Atlanta is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. A small portion of the city extends eastward into neighboring DeKalb County.



Though earlier organizations bearing the same name date back as far as 1923, [1] the Orchestra was officially founded in 1945 and played its first concert as the Atlanta Youth Symphony under the direction of Henry Sopkin, a Chicago music educator who remained its conductor until 1966. The organization changed to its current name in 1947 and soon began attracting well known soloists such as Isaac Stern and Glenn Gould. In 1967, with the departure of Sopkin, Robert Shaw (founder of the Robert Shaw Chorale) became the Music Director, and a year later the orchestra became full-time. In 1970, Shaw founded a choir, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. In 1988, Yoel Levi became Music Director and Principal Conductor. Under him, the Orchestra played at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Levi became Music Director Emeritus in 2000, and was succeeded as Music Director by Robert Spano. Allison Vulgamore was hired as president of the orchestra in 1993, remaining in the role until 2009. [2]

Henry Sopkin was an American conductor. He founded, and for 21 years, from 1945 to 1966, led the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Before that, he had been a long-standing pedagogue at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where he taught conducting and led the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fourth largest in North America ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Isaac Stern American musician

Isaac Stern was an American violinist.

The orchestra toured Europe under Yoel Levi in 1991; and with its Chorus, under Robert Shaw, in 1988. In 2006 the orchestra and its chamber chorus, under Robert Spano, served as the resident ensemble for California's Ojai Festival. The full ASO Chorus has thrice visited Berlin, giving three performances on each occasion of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem (2003), Hector Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts (2008), and Johannes Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem (2009) with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under ASO Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Benjamin Britten English composer, conductor, and pianist

Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

<i>War Requiem</i> composition by Benjamin Britten

The War Requiem, Op. 66, is a large-scale setting of the Requiem composed by Benjamin Britten mostly in 1961 and completed in January 1962. The War Requiem was performed for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was built after the original fourteenth-century structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. The traditional Latin texts are interspersed, in telling juxtaposition, with extra-liturgical poems by Wilfred Owen, written during World War I.

In 2008 the ASO opened its new 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in north Fulton County in the town of Alpharetta, some 22 miles north of Atlanta, where it presents concerts of its own as well as those by various pops groups. Encore Park and the Amphitheatre are owned by the Woodruff Arts Center, the ASO's parent organization. Including Encore Park and its activities at Atlanta Symphony Hall and Chastain Park, the ASO expects to present more than 300 performances annually. With a budget expected to increase to US $50 million with the completion of its new Amphitheatre, the ASO has become one of the six or seven largest orchestras in America, by budget size. The ASO's budget includes not only the costs of production, along with musician and staff salaries and benefits, but also the Orchestra's very significant expenditures on education, community outreach, special events and fundraising.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra management and principle musicians face a September 6, 2014 deadline to reach a collective bargaining agreement or face delaying the opening of the season. This continues a rancorous history between management and players, as they attempt to extricate themselves from operating in the red, as has been the case for many years now. The local paper also indicates that their touted "operating budget" is unsustainable for a variety of reasons.

Since 2005 the Orchestra has been actively planning for the construction of a new principal concert hall. In addition to the Verizon Amphitheatre the Orchestra plays an extensive outdoor summer pops concert series at Atlanta's city-owned Chastain Park and at other parks in the area.

Chastain Park city park in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

Chastain Memorial Park is the largest city park in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a 268-acre (1.08 km2) park near the northern edge of the city. Included in the park are jogging paths, playgrounds, tennis courts, a golf course, swimming pool, horse park and amphitheater.

On February 5, 2014, the ASO announced that Joseph Young would take over as Assistant Conductor, starting June 1, 2014. [3]

Joseph Young is an American orchestra conductor. He was formerly the Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2017, Young became the Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Artistic Director of Ensembles at the Peabody Institute.

Jane Little, who debuted as a double bassist in Atlanta on February. 4, 1945, at the age of 16. [4] She remained a member of the orchestra for the rest of her life, dying on May 15, 2016 a few hours after collapsing during a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She was said to be the longest tenured orchestra musician in the world. She was 87. [5]


ASO logo used prior to 2009 AtlantaSymphonyLogo.jpg
ASO logo used prior to 2009

The orchestra and chorus made their first recording, a 2-LP Christmas album entitled Nativity, for Turnabout/Vox Records in 1975, conducted by Robert Shaw. This was an album directly based on their annual Christmas concert. A slightly shortened version of the 75-minute album was issued by Vox in the 1990s on compact disc under the title Christmas with Robert Shaw.

In 1978, the ASO became the first American orchestra to make a digital recording intended for commercial release, when it played Igor Stravinsky's Firebird suite and excerpts from Alexander Borodin's opera, Prince Igor , for the Telarc label. The Telarc association, which resulted in 26 Grammy awards, [6] continued until 2010, one of the longest continuous associations of an orchestra with a record label. In 2011 the Orchestra began releasing recordings on its own ASO Media label. In 2004, the Orchestra began a project to record for the Deutsche Grammophon label several works by composer Osvaldo Golijov.

One of the orchestra and chorus's best-known recordings, of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Robert Shaw, was recorded for the now defunct Pro Arte label, and is out of print, though excerpts from the "Ode to Joy" fourth movement may be found in anthologies issued on the Reference Gold and Classical Heritage labels.

Another of the ASO's recordings now out-of-print because it was recorded for the Pro Arte label is that of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1, with Peter Serkin as soloist and Robert Shaw conducting. [7] It is one of the few recordings without a chorus that the orchestra made with Shaw.

Labor disputes

The ASO has suffered from labor disputes between management and musicians in recent years. In 2012, musicians agreed to decrease by ten weeks of pay yearly in order to help balance the ASO's budget, which had seen a major deficit in part due to years of mismanagement and declining ticket sales. As a result, the orchestra's status being changed from a full-time, 52-week orchestra to a part-time, 42-week organization. [8] However, in September 2014, after musicians refused to agree to a new contract, management locked out the players and putting the beginning of the 2014–15 season in jeopardy. [9] The lockout ended up lasting beyond the scheduled date at which the season was supposed to start, on September 25. [10]

Music directors

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  1. N. Lee Orr (May 14, 2003). "Classical Music in Atlanta". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. The Grove Dictionary of American Music. OUP USA. January 2013. ISBN   978-0-19-531428-1.
  3. "Joseph Young, Assistant Conductor & Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra Music Director". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  4. Edgers, Geoff (February 5, 2016). "Meet the 87-year-old bassist who just made symphony history". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2016. The Atlanta Symphony bassist now held the world record for longest tenure with an orchestra.
  5. Berlinger, Joshua; Marco, Tony (May 16, 2016). "Woman who held record for longest tenure with an orchestra collapses on stage, dies". Cable News Network. Retrieved May 17, 2016. Jane Little, a bassist who held the Guinness World Record for the longest professional tenure with a single orchestra, died Sunday night after collapsing on stage during a performance earlier that afternoon.
  6. Nick Jones (September 27, 2016). "Atlanta Symphony Orchestra". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  7. "Brahms - Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15 - Peter Serkin, Robert Shaw with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  8. Michael Cooper (September 5, 2014). "Robert Spano Writes to Board of Atlanta Symphony". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  9. /Michael Cooper (September 7, 2014). "The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Locks Out Its Players, Again". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  10. Midgette, Anne (6 October 2014). "The latest orchestra lockout: the situation in Atlanta". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 November 2014.