Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Announces 20-21 Season and So Much More

Speakeysie News Desk 4/5/2020

Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles today announced the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) 2020/21 season, which will celebrate Robert Spano’s 20th and final season as Music Director and the 50th anniversary of the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus (ASOC).

 “We look forward to once again taking the stage in Symphony Hall to celebrate the indelible legacy of Robert Spano and the rich history of our beloved Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus,” said Jennifer Barlament, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Executive Director. “We’ll celebrate the majesty of the ASO with epic masterpieces and works by and about women, both legendary and present-day. In addition to inviting the world’s greatest guest artists to our stage, we are proud to celebrate the talents of our own world-class Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians as soloists. And of course, we could not celebrate Robert Spano without works from our great American composers, including an evening featuring music of the Atlanta School of Composers.”

The Grammy® Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 2020/21 season will feature an array of programming from the 24-week Delta Classical Series, Coca-Cola Holiday Concerts, Family Concert Series, Special Concerts, Movies in Concert Series and Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE presented by Delta Air Lines. 

 “In my final season, I am looking forward to every performance. Some of the highlights will
surely be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ASO Chorus, with performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Opening Weekend with Gil Shaham, an evening of music by Franz Liszt with our dear friend Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and returning to our stage such great artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Yefim Bronfman, Pedja Mužijević and Garrick Ohlsson,” said Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director. “We’ll close the season with Mahler’s Third Symphony. With its profound expression of love, I can think of no more fitting work with which to say ‘thank you’ for 20 blessed years with the ASO.”

View 2020/21 Season Brochure
View 2020/21 Season Chronological Listing

Robert Spano will lead the Orchestra for 10 Delta Classical subscription programs during his 20th and final season as Music Director, beginning with Opening Weekend on Sept. 24 and 26 with Grammy® Award-winning violinist Gil Shaham performing Korngold’s Violin Concerto. On Nov. 19 and 21, he conducts Mendelssohn’s Elijah, celebrating 50 years of the incomparable Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Spano returns to the podium on Jan. 14 and 16 to lead an all-Liszt program featuring longtime collaborator Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2; and the following week on Jan. 21, 23 and 24, he will conduct Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Pedja Mužijević.

On Feb. 18 and 20, he will lead the world premiere of Adam Schoenberg’s Concerto for Orchestra followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Yefim Bronfman. The following week (Feb. 25 and 27) Spano leads another world premiere, Michael Gandolfi’s Piano Concerto performed by Marc-André Hamelin. The program will also include two pieces by Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man and Symphony No. 3.

In April 2021, Spano will conduct two Delta Classical subscription concerts beginning on April 15 and 17 with Brahms’ Violin Concerto featuring Robert McDuffie, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. On April 22 and 24, he will lead Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and a world premiere from Jonathan Leshnoff, The Sacrifice of Isaac.

On June 3, 5 and 6, Spano and the Orchestra will welcome Garrick Ohlsson to Symphony Hall for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The program opens with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 76th season will end on June 10 and 12 as Robert Spano leads the Orchestra and Chorus in Mahler’s colossal Symphony No. 3, featuring mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

The Grammy® Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus celebrates its 50th anniversary during the 2020/21 season. On Oct. 15 Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles and Director of Choruses Norman Mackenzie will lead a one-night choral celebration, featuring choral favorites such as Verdi’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina burana, Brahms’ A German Requiem and more.

On Nov. 19 and 21, Spano, Orchestra and Chorus will be joined by Jessica Rivera (soprano), Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Cooley (tenor) and Nmon Ford (baritone) for Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

The Chorus will perform the annual Christmas with the ASO concerts with Morehouse College Glee Club and Gwinnett Young Singers, led by Norman Mackenzie on Dec. 11, 12 and 13. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus will perform the annual performances of Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 17 and 18.

On Jan 14 and 16, Robert Spano will lead the Men of the ASO Chorus and tenor Richard Clement in Liszt’s A Faust Symphony.

The Chorus returns to the Symphony Hall stage on March 18 and 20 when Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles leads Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” also featuring soprano Leah Crocetto and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong.

Robert Spano’s two final performances with the Chorus include April 22 and 24, which features Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. And on June 10 and 12, Spano’s 20-year tenure concludes with Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 featuring mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

To commemorate Robert Spano and the ASO’s commitment to performing new music, the ASO will introduce 17 new works into the Orchestra’s repertoire during the 2020/21 season, including:

Six World Premieres Commissioned by the ASO: Gity Razaz’s And the brightest rivers glide…, Adam Schoenberg’s Concerto for OrchestraMichael Gandolfi’s Piano Concerto, Jonathan Leshnoff’s The Sacrifice of Isaac, Mark Buller’s The Parallactic Transits and a new work by Krists Auznieks.

Three U.S. Premieres: Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ A Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake, Hannah Kendall’s weaves flowers and leaves and a new work by Anna Clyne.

Eight ASO Premieres: Takemitsu’s Ceremonial: An Autumn Ode, Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, Tyshawn Sorey’s Cello Concerto, Derrick Spiva Jr.’s Prisms, Cycles, Leaps (Part I), Aaron Jay Kernis’ Musica Celestis, Kaija Saariaho’s Laterna Magica, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 6 and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Walkabout.

Four ASO musicians will be featured as soloists in the 2020/21 season. Principal Bassoon Andrew Brady makes his ASO subscription solo debut with John Williams’ The Five Sacred Trees; Associate Concertmaster Justin Bruns will perform Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries; Concertmaster David Coucheron will take center stage for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3; and Principal Clarinet Laura Ardan will be featured in a special program celebrating the Atlanta School of Composers.

Thirteen guest conductors will join the ASO this season, including Cristian Măcelaru, Edward Gardner, Andrew Manze, Hannu Lintu and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Kazuki Yamada, Han-Na Chang, Andrey Boreyko, Maxim Emelyanychev, Ryan Bancroft, Nathalie Stutzmann, Eun Sun Kim and Shiyeon Sung will make their ASO conducting debuts.

Eight guest artists will make their ASO debuts in the 2020/21 season, including Naomi Sato (shō), Seong-Jin Cho (piano), Seth Parker Woods (cello), Alexander Melnikov (piano), Kian Soltani (cello), Alexander Gavrylyuk (piano), Cédric Tiberghien (piano) and Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano).

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the holiday season with three festive programs, including Christmas with the ASO on Dec. 11, 12 and 13 and Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 17 and 18 led by Director ofChoruses Norman Mackenzie. There will be two performances of the family holiday concert, The Snowman, on Dec. 6. On Dec. 16, Maxim Emelyanychev will lead selections of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Seth Parker Woods performs Tyshawn Sorey’s Cello Concerto.

The 2020/21 Family Concert Series includes Halloween at Hogwarts on Oct. 25, The Snowman film with concert on Dec. 6, and Peter and the Wolf on March 21.

All Family Concerts will be led by newly appointed ASO Associate Conductor and Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra Music Director Jerry Hou.


  • Sept. 12 – Atlanta Symphony Gala Concert featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov led by Robert Spano.
  • Oct. 15 – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus 50th Anniversary Concert led by Donald Runnicles and Norman Mackenzie.
  • Oct. 17 – Piano Sensation Seong-Jin Cho performs Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto led by Donald Runnicles.
  • Jan. 2 – Associate Conductor Jerry Hou leads The Four Seasons featuring Associate Concertmaster Justin Bruns.
  • Feb. 13 – Associate Conductor Jerry Hou leads an evening of Schumann and Tchaikovsky featuring Kian Soltani and Alexander Melnikov.
  • April 18 – Yo-Yo Ma returns for Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 led by Robert Spano.
  • June 1 – Everything Lasts Forever: A Celebration of the Atlanta School of Composers led by Robert Spano, featuring Principal Clarinet Laura Ardan.

The 2020/21 Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE concert line-up will continue to grow with new and exciting artists added to the schedule throughout the year. Visit for the most up-to-date concert listings and announcements. The Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE performances are not included in the subscription series.  

The Thursday pre-concert chamber recitals will return in the 2020/21 season on Nov. 5, Feb. 4 and April 29. Details to be announced in the coming months.

Dates for performances across Georgia, including The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, Kennesaw State University, University of Georgia, Savannah Music Festival, Reinhardt University and Emory University Schwartz Center will be announced in the coming months.  

The ASO is pleased to announce that Jerry Hou will begin as ASO Associate Conductor and Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra Music Director in September 2020. Hou is currently the Associate Conductor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He will succeed Stephen Mulligan, who completes his three-year term with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in June 2020. Read Jerry Hou’s full biography

Subscriptions for the 2020/21 season are on sale now and start as low as $75 for a three-concert Sunday package. Subscribers receive seating priority over individual ticket buyers, ticket exchange privileges, subscriber-only events and other benefits, including savings up to 10 percent off individual ticket prices. Single tickets go on sale August 2020. For more information about the subscription packages or to become a subscriber, please call the ASO season ticket office at 404.733.4800, or visit Groups of 10 or more can enjoy discounted tickets and priority seating through the group sales department at, or 404.733.4848. To view the full season, visit

Delta Air Lines is the Presenting Sponsor and Official Airline of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  

Holiday concerts are sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company with support from the Livingston Foundation Endowment in memory of Leslie Livingston Kellar.

A Performance in the Park is presented by PNC Bank as part of the Around the A Series. Major funding is provided by the Loridans Foundation, Fulton County Board of Commissioners and additional support by the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE is presented by Delta Air Lines. 

FREE tickets are available for veterans, active duty and military families thanks to the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. 

Other major funding is provided by 1180 Peachtree, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta and The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation.   

Major funding for the Education and Community Engagement programs is provided by The John and Rosemary Brown Family Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power, Warner Media, William Randolph Hearst Foundation, The Livingston Foundation, The Zeist Foundation, Inc., The Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Foundation, Amy W. Norman Charitable Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Molly Blank Fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. 

Funding is provided directly by the National Endowment for the Arts. Major support is provided by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Major funding is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council. 

About the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Celebrating its 75th season, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra continues to affirm its position as one of America’s leading orchestras with excellent live performances, renowned guest artist features and engaging education initiatives. As a cornerstone for artistic development in the Southeast, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs a full schedule of more than 150 concerts, including educational and community concerts, each year for a combined audience of more than a quarter million people.

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