Performance Saturday, November 5, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Since becoming the first and only American to win the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in 1970, Grammy-winning Garrick Ohlsson has gained worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. He’s got a touch that mixes physical power and emotional delicacy—perfect for Rachmaninoff’s moving Piano Concerto No. 3, which he performs here with Robert Spano and his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Also on the program is the New York premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx, a Carnegie Hall co-commission.


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    Robert Spano, Music Director and Conductor
  • Garrick Ohlsson, Piano


  • ESA-PEKKA SALONEN Nyx (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Radio France, Barbican Centre and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra)
  • SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy
  • RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3

  • Encore:
  • DEBUSSY Claire de lune from Suite bergamasque


  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

    Currently in its 67th season, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra consistently affirms its position as one of America's leading orchestras by performing great music, presenting great artists, educating, and engaging. The orchestra is known for the excellence of its live performances its renowned choruses, as well as its impressive list of Grammy Award-winning recordings.

    As the leading cultural organization in the Southeast, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra serves as the cornerstone for artistic development and music education in the region. Since September 2001, the orchestra and its audiences have together explored a creative mix of programming, including Theater of a Concert performances that explore different formats, settings, and enhancements for the musical performance experience. Another example is 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 as music director, Mr. Spano and the orchestra have performed more than 100 concerts that contain contemporary works (composed since 1950), and by the end of the 2011-2012 season will have performed 15 orchestra-commissioned world premieres.

    During its 32-year history with Telarc, the orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus recorded more than 100 albums, and their 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 with some of today's leading composers.

    The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs more than 200 concerts each year for a combined audience of more than half a million in a full schedule of performances, including educational and community concerts. A recognized leader and supporter of contemporary American music, the orchestra received the 2007 award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. With the opening of the 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park ( in May 2008, the orchestra became the first US orchestra to annually perform and present in its concert hall and in two amphitheaters. In summer 2008, the orchestra celebrated 35 years at legendary Chastain Park Amphitheater, the award-winning 6,500 seat venue in Atlanta, during its annual Delta Classic Chastain concert series (

    Robert Spano

    Currently in his 11th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano is recognized internationally as one of the most imaginative conductors today. Since 2001, he has invigorated and expanded the orchestra's repertoire, while elevating the ensemble to new levels of international prominence and acclaim.

    Mr. Spano's discography with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra includes 19 recordings, six of which have been honored with Grammy Awards. He has led the orchestra's performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as at the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals. Mr. Spano has conducted 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 the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony, and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has also conducted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Welsh National Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Houston Grand Opera, as well as the 2005 and 2009 Ring cycles at Seattle Opera. Mr. Spano was Musical America's 2008 Conductor of the Year.

    In March 2010, Mr. Spano began a three-year tenure as Emory University's Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, in which he spends three weeks each year leading intensive seminars, lecturing, and presenting programs on science, math, philosophy, literature, and musicology throughout the university's campus. In its history, Emory University has only honored seven other individuals with such expansive residencies, including the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, and author Salman Rushdie.

    In March 2011, Mr. Spano was announced as the incoming music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was in residence in Aspen for the 2011 summer season as music director-designate, and will assume the full role of music director in 2012. Mr. Spano will also lead the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen (AACA) as a co-director in 2011 and as director from 2012 onward. He will be the fourth long-term music director and second AACA director in the AMFS's 63-year history.

    More Info

  • Garrick Ohlsson

    Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although he has long been regarded as one of the world's leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire that ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. His concerto repertoire alone is unusually wide and eclectic, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century; to date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos.

    In acknowledgement of the bicentenary of Liszt's birth, Mr. Ohlsson's engagements in the 2011-2012 season include recitals of works by Liszt in cities that include Chicago, Hong Kong, London, and New York. Tours in Europe and Asia include concerts in France, England, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. Mr. Ohlsson will also return as guest soloist with orchestras in Indianapolis, Nashville, Portland (Oregon), Ottawa, and San Francisco. In partnership with the Wroclaw Philharmonic (Poland), he plans a tour of 12 concerts from Florida to California, presenting works of Chopin and Beethoven.

    Last season, in recognition of the bicentenary of Chopin's birth, Mr. Ohlsson presented a series of all-Chopin recital programs in Seattle, Berkeley, and La Jolla, which culminated at Lincoln Center. A documentary, The Art of Chopin, based on Chopin's life and music and featuring Mr. Ohlsson, was released in autumn 2010. In summer 2010, he was featured in all-Chopin programs at the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals, as well as appearances in Taipei, Beijing, Melbourne, and Sydney.

    Mr. Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician and has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács, and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. Together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier, he is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio.

    More Info


Scriabin The Poem of Ecstasy
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Robert Spano, Conductor 

At a Glance

Tonight’s concert opens with the New York premiere of Nyx, a new work by Finish composer-conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. The remainder of the program features two masterpieces by Russian pianist-composers that received their world premieres in New York within a year of each other. Alexander Scriabin deemed his single-movement symphony The Poem of Ecstasy, completed in 1908, his “finest composition,” while Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Third Piano Concerto in 1909 for a concert tour of the United States.
Program Notes

Jeremy Geffen discusses The Poem of Ecstasy and the eccentric character—who claimed the gift of synesthesia and believed himself to be the center of a cult—who composed it.

This concert is made possible, in part, through the generous support of The Frederick S. and Dorothy S. Coleman Foundation.

Part of