ROBERT SHAW CENTENNIAL CONCERT AT CARNEGIE HALL ON SATURDAY, APRIL 30
|Commemorating the 100th birthday of the late conductor and legendary choral leader Robert Shaw, Carnegie Hall presents the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus (ASOC) conducted by Music Director Robert Spano in a celebratory concert on what would have been Robert Shaw’s 100th birthday, Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.
Music director of the ASO from 1967 to 1988, Robert Shaw led the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in its Carnegie Hall debut in 1971. During his time with the ASO, he founded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus—a 200-piece ensemble noted for its stunning precision and tonal quality—which went on to make its Carnegie Hall debut with the ASO in 1976. During Carnegie Hall’s centennial season in 1990, Mr. Shaw inaugurated the Hall’s ongoing series of professional training workshops, annually leading the Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop—attracting the nation’s top choral professionals to study musical preparation and performance of choral masterworks—for its first eight years until his death in 1999.
For the April 30 concert, Mr. Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform the New York premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Zohar, co-commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall for its 125 Commissions Project to honor Mr. Shaw’s ties to the ASO and Carnegie Hall. Soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford join the orchestra and chorus for this work, as well as for Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45, which was performed at Mr. Shaw’s first Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop concert in November 1990.
Today, Mr. Spano and choral director Norman Mackenzie continue the legacy of Mr. Shaw, earning multiple Grammy Awards for the orchestra and chorus throughout their 15-year tenure with the ensembles. Their work with the ASO and ASO Chorus has included numerous international tours, recordings, creative programming with frequent commissions and world premieres, and annual appearances at Carnegie Hall.
Continuing the celebration of Mr. Shaw’s centennial, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra releases a live recording of Shaw conducting the ASO and ASO Chorus in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony from May 21, 1988—Robert Shaw’s final concert in Atlanta as Music Director. This recording will be for sale in the Atlanta Symphony Store, Carnegie Hall, and released on the ASO Media label on April 29.
About the Artists
She includes among her most treasured performances Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Adams’ El Niño with David Robertson and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Poulenc’s Gloria with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and numerous performances of Adams’s A Flowering Tree, most notably with the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, the Cincinnati Opera under Joana Carneiro, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra under John Adams, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano.
A featured soloist on the four-time 2006 Grammy Award-winning album (including “Best Classical Recording”) Songs of Innocence and of Experience (Naxos) and the Grammy Award-winning album Transmigrations (Telarc), Panamanian-American Nmon Ford enjoyed many successful débuts over the past season, among them the role of Jochanaan (Salome) with Opéra National de Bordeaux and the title role of Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth at Chicago Opera Theater.
Recently, Mr. Ford performed Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem with the Milwaukee Symphony, Carmina burana with the Atlanta and St. Louis Symphonies, Scarpia (Tosca) with Madison Opera, and Zurga (Les pêcheurs de perles) at Michigan Opera Theater. After singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (ONPL), he was immediately re-engaged by the ONPL for Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Fauré’s Requiem. Additional engagements include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carmina burana with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Escamillo (Carmen) at Palm Beach Opera.
Conductor, pianist, composer, and pedagogue Robert Spano is known for his unique communicative abilities. In his 15th season as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, this imaginative conductor has quietly been responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous classically-trained composers and conductors. 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. Committed to the expansion of new music and the livelihoods of contemporary composers, Mr. Spano is honored with the 2016 Champion of New Music Award presented by the American Composer’s Forum on April 16.
Mr. Spano has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall (2015–2016 marks Spano’s tenth consecutive season as a guest of that prestigious venue), Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements include the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics; the San Francisco Symphony; the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra; and The Philadelphia Orchestra, 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 productions of Wagner’s Ring cycle.
Norman Mackenzie’s abilities as musical collaborator, conductor, and concert organist have brought him international recognition. As Director of Choruses for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2000 and holder of its endowed Frannie and Bill Graves Chair, he was chosen to help carry forward the creative vision of legendary founding conductor Robert Shaw to a new generation of music lovers. During his tenure, the chorus has made numerous tours and garnered several Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. At the ASO, he prepares the choruses for all concerts and recordings, works closely with Robert Spano on the commissioning and realization of new choral-orchestral works, and conducts holiday concerts annually. Mr. Mackenzie also serves as organist and Director of Music and Fine Arts for Atlanta’s Trinity Presbyterian Church and pursues an active recital and guest conducting schedule.
Mr. Mackenzie has been hailed by The New York Times as Robert Shaw’s “designated successor.” In his 14-year association with Shaw, he was keyboardist for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, principal accompanist for the ASO Choruses, and ultimately assistant choral conductor. In addition, he was musical assistant and accompanist for the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, the Robert Shaw Institute Summer Choral Festivals in France and the United States, and the famed Robert Shaw Carnegie Hall Choral Workshops. He was choral clinician for the first three workshops after Shaw’s passing, and partnered with Robert Spano for the 2011 Workshop featuring the Berlioz Requiem.
Celebrating its 71st season, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra continues to affirm its position as one of America’s leading orchestras with excellent live performances, renowned guest artists, and engaging education initiatives, all under Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles. As the cornerstone for artistic development in the Southeast, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs a full schedule of more than 200 concerts each year, including educational and community concerts, for a combined audience of more than half a million people.
The Orchestra and its audiences have together explored a creative mix of programming, including the Atlanta School of Composers, which reflects Mr. Spano and the orchestra’s commitment to nurturing and championing music through multi-year partnerships defining a new generation of American composers.
During its 32-year history with Telarc, the orchestra and chorus have recorded more than 100 albums, and its recordings have won 27 Grammy Awards in categories including Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Opera Performance. The orchestra continues to record regularly on its new in-house label, ASO Media, which demonstrates its commitment to celebrating classical masterworks while continuing to perform, commission, premiere, and record works by today’s leading composers.
Acclaimed for the beauty, precision, and expressive qualities of their singing, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus has been an important part of the orchestra’s programming since its founding in 1970 by Robert Shaw. It is composed entirely of volunteers who meet weekly for rehearsals and perform with the ASO several times each season. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus are also featured on the majority of the ASO’s recordings, having garnered 14 Grammy awards (nine for Best Choral Performance, four for Best Classical Recording, and one for Best Opera Recording).
The chorus made its Carnegie Hall debut in 1976 and has returned there a number of times, most recently in 2014 with a performance of Britten’s War Requiem. It performed at the Kennedy Center for President-elect Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Concert in 1977. In 1988, it accompanied the orchestra on its first European tour. It has appeared with the ASO for several televised concerts, including the 1995 national broadcast of the orchestra’s 50th anniversary and in 1996 for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, broadcast worldwide. The ASO Chorus also has participated for 30 years in the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Service sponsored each January by the King Center in Atlanta.
JONATHAN LESHNOFF Zohar (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
Sponsored by KPMG LLP
Major support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
Public support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall’s Composer Club.
This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for choral music established by S. Donald Sussman in memory of Judith Arron and Robert Shaw.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus’s performance at Carnegie Hall is made possible through deeply appreciated gifts from The Abraham J. & Phyllis Katz Foundation, the estate of Dr. Charles H. Hamilton, Harris Miller and Deborah Kahn, Mr. Judah Gudelsky, Victoria and Howard Palefsky, Ann Marie and John B. White, Jr. and generous gifts made in honor of Sue S. Williams.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Image at top of release by Angela Morris