Robert Spano, who’s celebrating a decade as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, has just been appointed to the same role with the Aspen Music Festival and School, a summertime training program for elite young musicians from around the world. The 49-year-old conductor starts as music director designate and co-director of the conducting program and will officially take the job next summer.
His new role in Colorado won’t have much effect on his evergreen leadership of the ASO. Since the orchestra has cut back on its classical concerts at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, there’s no pressing need for Spano’s summertime presence in Atlanta. In Aspen, he’ll conduct three to five concerts a summer, teach conducting and help program the festival concerts.
Spano has long held prominent roles in education at various levels. He’s in the middle of a three-year term as Emory University’s distinguished artist in residence, giving students and the Atlanta community lectures and performances in various guises. On March 14, he’ll share the stage with novelist Salman Rushdie in a “creative conversation.” On March 25, Spano will perform John Cage’s wordplay mash-up “Lecture on Nothing.”
Spano made his Aspen debut in 1993 and has been a regular visitor ever since. Last summer, he helped fill in after the former music director, David Zinman, abruptly quit in a leadership dispute with festival management. The New York Times has covered the Aspen imbroglio in depth, and quoted Spano as saying of his new appointment, “The various parties at Aspen have been wonderfully forthcoming about what’s going on. My responsibility is to move from where we are to what’s next.”
- Robert Spano listens as a judge to the Atlanta Chamber Players’ “Rapido” contest. (Photo by Nick Arroyo)