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Conductor lifts his baton for last time heading Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

This weekend marks the end of an era for Robert Spano, as he conducts Mahler's 3rd Symphony

ATLANTA — For Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, it’s the end of an era.

The orchestra’s Music Director and Conductor Robert Spano will raise his baton for his final performances on June 9, 11 and 12. Spano's headed the Symphony for 22 years, leading it to seven Grammy Awards.  

With boundless energy, total concentration and conducting intensity as he lifts his baton, Spano has left his mark on the Atlanta Symphony.

“I am very proud that I hired more than two-thirds of the orchestra at this point as we lost talent to other opportunities; and as we lost talent due to retirement,” Spano said, reflecting on his more than two decades with the orchestra.

When Spano first joined the Symphony in 2001, he had a shocking start.

“Right when we started, 9/11 2001 in New York happened, and many concerts were canceled around the country. Ours was enough days later, so I said 'Let’s not cancel,'” Spano said.

But he faced a serious issue on what music would fit the moment.

“We chose to do Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony and I will never forget the feeling in the room because everyone needed some healing power of music and at that moment, that symphony spoke to that situation, and it was an electric night,” he emotionally added.

As Spano proudly points to the new composers he introduced to Atlanta, he also takes pride in the programs he fostered for more than two decades impacting metro Atlanta's youth.

“Music is one of the greatest antidotes to troubled youth and it has been proven in many circumstances how effective engaging in music changes everything. And to the extent that we are able to impact that with our efforts to reach young people throughout the city in a myriad of ways with many different programs we try to make that connection,” Spano emphasized.

But for Robert Spano leaving Atlanta is far from the end of his distinguished career. He will continue as music director at the Aspen Music Festival, adding:

“I am taking over the Ft. Worth (Texas) Symphony in the Fall. It is a new challenge; a different one, and I was just too excited not to take it,” he enthusiastically added.

This weekend, there will be a unique twist to his last Atlanta Symphony concerts.

On Saturday night, the performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony will be shown live on the giant wall of the High Museum in the Plaza between the Museum and Symphony Hall. For those who cannot make it to the Woodruff Arts Center, the Saturday night concert will also be available via Livestream online here, as well as on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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