Performance Saturday, April 30, 2016 | 8 PM

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
When Robert Spano conducted Britten’s War Requiem at Carnegie Hall in 2014, The New York Times called it a “gripping, organic, and sensitive performance,” and praised the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for its “rich, varied colorings.” Spano and the orchestra return to Carnegie Hall for the New York premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Zohar, commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of choral giant Robert Shaw and to honor his ties to the Atlanta Symphony and Carnegie Hall. The concert concludes with Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, in which the composer eschews fire and brimstone in this very personal work with texts from the Old and New Testaments of the Lutheran Bible. Gorgeous solo passages for soprano and baritone and heartfelt choral writing makes Ein deutsches Requiem a tender and unforgettable masterpiece.


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    Robert Spano, Music Director and Conductor
  • Jessica Rivera, Soprano
  • Nmon Ford, Baritone
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
    Norman Mackenzie, Director


  • JONATHAN LESHNOFF Zohar (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRAHMS Ein deutsches Requiem

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there is no late-seating before intermission.


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    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 that define a new generation of American composers. In addition, Mr. Spano--who has been the orchestra's music director since 2001--was named Musical America's Conductor of the Year in 2008.

    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 that include 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 the orchestra's commitment to celebrating classical masterworks, while continuing to perform, commission, premiere, and record works by today's leading composers.

    Robert Spano

    Conductor, pianist, composer, and pedagogue Robert Spano is known for his unique communicative abilities. In 15 seasons 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, including Aspen's American Academy of Conducting.

    The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Mr. Spano's commitment to American contemporary music. He was the recent recipient of the 2016 Champion of New Music Award, presented by the American Composers Forum. He has led Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals. Guest-conducting engagements have included performances with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, San Francisco Symphony, Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Opera performances include 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.

    Mr. Spano began the 2015-2016 season conducting the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan as part of a gala performance celebrating Seiji Ozawa's 80th birthday. With the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he leads four world premieres and seven Atlanta premieres, and celebrates the centennial of the legendary Robert Shaw's birth. Additional guest-conducting engagements include the Minnesota Orchestra; Oregon, Utah, and Kansas City symphonies; Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira; Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo; and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Spano also holds a conductor residency with the Colburn School Orchestra in Los Angeles. As a pianist, he joins Wu Han and Alessio Bax for a program of piano masterworks as part of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's residency at the University of Georgia.

    With a discography of critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media recorded during the past nine years, Mr. Spano has won six Grammy Awards with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. He is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and is proud to live in Atlanta.

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  • Jessica Rivera

    Soprano Jessica Rivera uniquely combines versatility, intelligence, and spirituality with a soulful, luminous sound that continues to earn her a place on the world's most prominent stages.

    Ms. Rivera's long-standing collaboration with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has spanned more than a decade. Many of her greatest artistic moments have been accomplished with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, including a Grammy Award for Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar in 2007 and her Carnegie Hall debut in Stravinsky's Le rossignol in 2009. Her work with Mr. Spano extends to other venues, including her debut performance with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Kitty Oppenheimer in Doctor Atomic and a US recital tour that culminated with a performance at Carnegie Hall.

    Ms. Rivera's career highlights include performances of Górecki's Symphony No. 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Adams's 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; 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.

    Ms. Rivera has also appeared with LA Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Dutch and Finnish national operas, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. She has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Telarc, ASO Media, Nonesuch, and Urtext.

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  • Nmon Ford

    Panamanian-American Nmon Ford has made many successful debuts over the past season, among them the role of Jochanaan in Salome with Opéra National de Bordeaux, and the title role of Bloch's Macbeth at Chicago Opera Theater. He is also a featured soloist on the Naxos recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, which won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording, and on the Grammy Award-winning album Transmigration (Telarc).

    Mr. Ford's recent engagements include Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, Scarpia in Tosca with Madison Opera, and Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles at Michigan Opera Theatre. After singing Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Orchestre national des Pays de la Loire, he was immediately re-engaged for Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and Fauré's Requiem. Additional engagements include Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carmina Burana with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Escamillo in Carmen at Palm Beach Opera.

    Mr. Ford has appeared at Teatro Comunale di Bologna in the title role of Pier Luigi Pizzi's production of Don Giovanni and as Escamillo at the Szeged Open-Air Festival in Hungary. In recent seasons, he sang his first engagements at the Sferisterio di Macerata Festival (Italy) in the title role of Attila and as Holofernes in Juditha triumphans. Other credits include Don Giovanni and the title role in The Emperor Jones at Teatro delle Muse (Italy), Scarpia and the title role in Billy Budd at Hamburg State Opera, and Conte di Luna in Il trovatore at Virginia Opera.

    Mr. Ford's recordings include Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music (Concord) with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (In-Akustik). He is also part of Vai DaCapo, whose Songs of Delight (Universal/Decca) was a top-20 hit on  Billboard's Classical and Classical Crossover charts.

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  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

    Acclaimed for the beauty, precision, and expressive qualities of its 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 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra several times each season. The chorus and chamber chorus also are featured on the majority of the orchestra'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. In 1977, it performed at the Kennedy Center for President-elect Jimmy Carter's inaugural concert. In 1988, it accompanied the orchestra on its first European tour. It has appeared with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 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 chorus also has participated for 30 years in the Martin Luther King Jr. ecumenical service sponsored each January by The King Center in Atlanta.

    The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Choruses have twice been a special guest at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. In June 2003, the chorus opened the festival with a critically acclaimed performance of John Adams's El Niño with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and in 2006, the chamber chorus performed Osvaldo Golijov's opera Ainadamar. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus has traveled to Germany three times as a special guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker at its home, the Berlin Philharmonie: in December 2003 with a series of three performances of Britten's War Requiem, in May 2008 for a series of three Berlioz Requiem concerts, and in December 2009 for a series of three performances of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem--all trips with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's principal guest conductor, Donald Runnicles.

    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 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Mackenzie 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 annual holiday concerts. 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 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 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 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 that featured the Berlioz Requiem.

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BRAHMS Ein deutsches Requiem (“Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit”)
Robert Spano, Conductor | Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

At a Glance

This evening marks the centenary of the birth of American conductor and choral director Robert Shaw, who served as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1967 to 1988. In the tradition of Shaw’s approach to programming, the concert juxtaposes a venerable European masterpiece with the New York premiere of a work by a contemporary American composer. Both are scored for solo soprano and baritone, chorus, and orchestra.
Program Notes


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Sponsored by KPMG LLP
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon 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.
This performance is part of Great American Orchestras I, and Madness and Consolation.

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