Robert Spano

Robert Spano

Music Director Laureate



Robert Spano, conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher, is known worldwide for the intensity of his artistry and distinctive communicative abilities, creating a sense of inclusion and warmth among musicians and audiences that is unique among American orchestras. After twenty seasons as Music Director, he continues his association with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Music Director Laureate. An avid mentor to rising artists, he is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors, and performers. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School since 2011, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students and young performers. Principal Guest Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra since 2019, Spano began his tenure as Music Director in August 2022, and will continue there through the 2027-2028 season. He is the tenth Music Director in the orchestra’s history, which was founded in 1912. In January 2024, Spano was appointed Principal Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School.  In February 2024, Spano was appointed Music Director of the Washington National Opera, beginning in the 2025–2026 season, for a three-year term; he is currently the WNO's Music Director Designate.

During the 2023-2024 season, Spano leads the Fort Worth Symphony symphonic and chamber music programs, as well as a gala concert with Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry, in addition to overseeing the orchestra and music staff and shaping the artistic direction of the orchestra and driving its continued growth. Additional engagements this season include the Atlanta and New Jersey Symphonies, Denver, Naples, and Rhode Island Philharmonics, multiple weeks at Curtis and Rice University, and a recital in Napa with Kelley O'Connor.

Maestro Spano made his highly-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2019, leading the US premiere of Marnie, the second opera by American composer Nico Muhly. Recent concert highlights have included several world premiere performances, including Voy a Dormir by Bryce Dessner at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor; George Tsontakis’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Dimitrios Skyllas’s Kyrie eleison with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; the Tuba Concerto by Jennifer Higdon, performed by Craig Knox and the Pittsburgh Symphony; Melodia, For Piano and Orchestra, by Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts at the Aspen Music Festival; and Miserere, by ASO bassist Michael Kurth.

Spano recently returned to his early love of composing. His newest work is a song cycle on Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus that he wrote for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor. In 2016, he premiered his Sonata: Four Elements for piano at the Aspen Music Festival, and a song cycle, Hölderlin-Lieder, for soprano Jessica Rivera.

The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements have included the Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New World, San Diego, Oregon, Utah, and Kansas City Symphonies. Internationally, Maestro Spano has led the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, Orquestra Sinfonica Estado Sao Paulo, Wroclaw Philharmonic, the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies in Australia, and the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan.  His 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 cycles.

With a discography of critically-acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media, Robert Spano has garnered four Grammy™ Awards and eight nominations with the Atlanta Symphony. Spano is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. Maestro Spano is a recipient of the Georgia Governor's Award For The Arts And Humanities and is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He makes his home in Atlanta and Fort Worth.

Quotes in the Media

Mr. Spano drew a glowing, spacious performance of this Brahms masterwork from the orchestra, marking a great return visit for both him and this essential ensemble.

The New York Times

The festival's music director, Robert Spano, caught both the broadest and finest strokes of tempo, dynamics and critical orchestral balances. He drew the best playing in the quiet, subtle moments of the score and long buildups to big climaxes.

Aspen Times

The sonics of the CD are excellent, and the presence of both Rivera and Spano well-suited. It is a fine presentation of both Rivera’s voice and Spano’s collaborative capabilities at the piano, as well as his insight into his skills as a composer.


Featured Events

More Info for Robert Spano + Garrick Ohlsson
May 9 - 11, 2024
Delta Classical Premium

Robert Spano + Garrick Ohlsson

Robert Spano Music Director Laureate
Garrick Ohlsson Piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
More Info for Robert Spano + Rite of Spring
May 16 - 18, 2024
Delta Classical

Robert Spano + Rite of Spring

Robert Spano Music Director Laureate
John Tessier Tenor
Cody Bowers Countertenor
Joseph Lattanzi Baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
More Info for Robert Spano Conducts
March 20 - 22, 2025
Delta Classical

Robert Spano Conducts

Robert Spano Music Director Laureate
Elisabeth Remy Johnson Principal Harpist
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
More Info for Spano Conducts Scheherazade
March 27 - 29, 2025
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Spano Conducts Scheherazade

Robert Spano Music Director Laureate
Jae Hong Park Piano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra