Performance Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | 8 PM

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Hailed as “a phenomenon” who “pulls together the most intellectually enticing and emotionally gripping [performances] in New York" (The New Yorker), Robert Spano leads his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a stirring performance of Britten’s towering masterpiece. The composer created this mammoth meditation against war by juxtaposing Latin texts from the Mass for the Dead with shocking depictions of battle by Wilfred Owen, a British poet who died in World War I.

Please note that tenor Anthony Dean Griffey has withdrawn from this performance due to illness. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall are grateful to Thomas Cooley for agreeing to perform on extremely short notice.


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    Robert Spano, Music Director and Conductor
  • Evelina Dobracheva, Soprano
  • Thomas Cooley, Tenor
  • Stephen Powell, Baritone
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
    Norman Mackenzie, Director
  • Brooklyn Youth Chorus
    Dianne Berkun-Menaker, Artistic Director


  • BRITTEN War Requiem

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating.


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    Currently in its 69th season, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is one of America's leading orchestras. It performs great music, presents leading artists, educates, and engages music lovers. The ASO serves as the cornerstone for artistic development and music education in the Southeast. It performs more than 200 concerts each year for a combined audience of more than half a million in a full schedule of performances. It also reaches more than 67,000 students and underserved members of the community through its education and community outreach programs.

    The orchestra is known for the excellence of its live performances, presentations, and renowned choruses, as well as its impressive list of Grammy Award-winning recordings. Since September 2001, the orchestra and its audiences have explored a creative mix of programming that has included the Atlanta School of Composers, which reflects Robert Spano and the orchestra's commitment to nurturing and championing music through multi-year partnerships that define a new generation of American composers. Since the beginning of his tenure, Mr. Spano and the orchestra have performed more than 100 concerts that contain contemporary works (composed since 1950). By the end of the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Spano and the orchestra will have performed 17 ASO-commissioned world premieres and 17 additional world premieres.

    During its 32-year history with Telarc, the orchestra and chorus have recorded more than 100 albums, winning 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.

    With the opening of the 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park ( in May 2008, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra became the first US orchestra to annually perform and present in its concert hall and in two amphitheaters. In summer 2013, the orchestra celebrated 40 years at the legendary Chastain Park Amphitheater, the award-winning 6,500 seat venue in Atlanta, during the annual Delta Classic Chastain concert series (

    Robert Spano

    Recognized as one of the most imaginative conductors of his generation, Robert Spano is currently in his 13th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), where he has created a sense of inclusion, warmth, and community unique among American orchestras.

    Under Mr. Spano's guidance, the ASO and its audiences explore a creative programming mix. The Atlanta School of Composers reflects his commitment to American contemporary music, thus defining a new generation of American composers. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and at the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals.

    As music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, Mr. Spano oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students, including Aspen's American Academy of Conducting. Guest engagements include performances with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, San Francisco Symphony, the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, and the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, as well as Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has conducted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Welsh National Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Houston Grand Opera; and Seattle Opera for the 2005 and 2009 Ring cycles.

    With an extensive discography of 21 recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media, Mr. Spano has garnered six Grammy Awards. Dedicated to pedagogy and multi-disciplinary studies, he has lectured on "Community" for TEDx and recently completed a three-year residency at Emory University. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

    Mr. Spano 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. Mr. Spano served as director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Music Center in 2003 and 2004, and from 1996 to 2004 he was music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He headed the conducting fellowship program at the Tanglewood Music Center from 1998 to 2002. In May 2009, Mr. Spano was awarded Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music.

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  • Evelina Dobračeva

    An artist of immensely promising talent, Russian-born soprano Evelina Dobračeva began singing under the tutelage of Norma Sharp at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin. Now based in Berlin, Ms. Dobračeva maintains strong ties with the Cologne Opera, where she has sung numerous roles, including Micaëla (Carmen), Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito), Violetta (La traviata), and her recent debut as Odabella (Attila).

    Ms. Dobračeva's concert engagements have included Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the Odense Symphony Orchestra, Rossini's Petite messe solennelle at the Berliner Dom, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Lokshin's Margarita Songs with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi conducted by Rudolf Barshai.

    Concert appearances in the 2012-2013 season included performances of the Verdi Requiem with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Czech Philharmonic (under Fabio Luisi), and Orquestra Sinfonica do Porto. In addition, Ms. Dobračeva performed Britten's War Requiem with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner at St. Paul's Cathedral.

    Other recent highlights include Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 and Mahler's Symphony No. 4. Upcoming performances include her Wigmore Hall debut, and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin at the Glyndebourne Festival.

    Ms. Dobračeva has recorded Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka with the WDR Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mikhail Jurovsky, and she is also featured in a new Delphian recording of Rachmaninoff songs accompanied by Iain Burnside.

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  • Stephen Powell

    Stephen Powell's engagements in the 2013-2014 season include Enrico in Lucia di Lammmermoor with the Los Angeles Opera, Tonio in Pagliacci with the San Diego Opera, Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the St. Louis Symphony, Brahms's Ein deutches Requiem with the Nashville Symphony, Falstaff with the Virginia Opera, Germont in La traviata with the Michigan Opera Theatre, and the title role of Rigoletto at the Caramoor Festival.

    Engagements in the 2012-2013 season included Simon Boccanegra in Warsaw, Carmina Burana with The Cleveland Orchestra, Peer Gynt with the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rigoletto at the Lyric Opera Baltimore, Mozart's Requiem with the St. Louis Symphony, Belshazzar's Feast with the Houston Symphony, Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Iago in Otello with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and Rodrigo in Don Carlos at the Caramoor Festival.

    Other recent highlights include Bach's Mass in B Minor with the St. Louis Symphony and Music of the Baroque; Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Rachmaninoff's Spring Cantata with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Handel's Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony; Carmina Burana with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cincinnati and Atlanta symphony orchestras, and at the Aspen Music Festival; Rigoletto with the Minnesota Orchestra and at Cincinnati Opera; Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich and at the Aspen Music Festival; Schmidt's Notre Dame with the American Symphony Orchestra; Fauré's Requiem with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Schoenberg's Gurrelieder at the Montreux Festival; Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the St. Louis Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; Scarpia in Tosca with the Minnesota Orchestra; Miller in Luisa Miller at the Cincinnati May Festival; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

    Acclaimed for its beauty, precision, and expressive qualities, 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 (ASO) several times each season. Both the symphonic-sized ASO Chorus and the smaller Chamber Chorus are featured on the majority of the ASO's recordings, and have won 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, returning a number of times, most recently with the ASO in 2012 for a performance of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. The chorus performed at the Kennedy Center for President-elect Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Concert in 1977, and 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 the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games, broadcast worldwide. The ASO 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 choruses have twice been a special guest at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago: In June 2003, the ASO Chorus opened the festival with Robert Spano and the ASO in a critically acclaimed performance of John Adams's El Niño, and in 2006, the Chamber Chorus performed in Osvaldo Golijov's opera Ainadamar. The chorus has traveled to Germany three times to perform with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Philharmonie: in December 2003 for Britten's War Requiem, in May 2008 for Berlioz's Requiem, and in December 2009 for performances of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem.

    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 won 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 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.

    In his 14-year association with Robert Shaw, Mr. Mackenzie was keyboardist for the ASO, 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 US, and Carnegie Hall's famed Robert Shaw Choral Workshop program. 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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  • Brooklyn Youth Chorus


    Now in its 22nd season, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC) is one of the country's leading children's choruses and is the ensemble of choice for internationally renowned orchestras and artists. Under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Dianne Berkun-Menaker, BYC has an international reputation for programmatic and artistic excellence.

    The BYC studies and performs a wide range of music-classical and non-classical-and has an active commissioning program to develop new works across a variety of genres. It has performed with renowned artists such as Elton John, Lou Reed, John Legend, and Grizzly Bear, and has performed under the batons of Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, James Levine, Robert Spano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leon Botstein, and many others. In 2002, BYC debuted with the New York Philharmonic in John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, for which the BYC won a Grammy Award.

    The BYC receives its training from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy, a performance-based vocal music education program that serves nearly 300 students annually in five ensembles. It draws students from all over the city and reflects the broad diversity of the metropolitan area.

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Britten's War Reqiem (Sanctus)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra | Atlanta Symphony Chorus | Atlanta Boys Choir | Robert Shaw, Conductor

At a Glance

Benjamin Britten composed his War Requiem in response to a commission to celebrate the consecration of St. Michael's Cathedral in Coventry, England. The original cathedral was destroyed by German bombing raids during World War II. The War Requiem received its world premiere at the cathedral on May 30, 1962.

A lifelong pacifist and a conscientious objector during World War II, Britten created a work that expressed his disdain for the conflict that led to the destruction of the cathedral. In the War Requiem, he juxtaposes the text of the Latin Mass for the Dead with poems by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), an English officer killed in battle in World War I one week before the Armistice. Stripped of any romanticism or patriotic fervor, Owen's poems graphically depict the horrors of war. Indeed, Owen repeatedly portrays enemy soldiers as kindred spirits, innocent pawns in the hands of those who send them off to battle.
Program Notes


The story of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. Courtesy of the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Britten 100
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.
Funding for the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast series is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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