Atlanta Life and Culture

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ASO to be featured in first-time orchestra festival in Washington in '17

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that limited national and international touring was one issue in contract negotiations between Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians and management that lead to a nine-week lockout last fall. Though the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association supports increased touring opportunities, the matter was not a major issue in the negotiations and lockout that delayed the start of the 70th anniversary season. The story has been amended below. 

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is one of four American orchestras selected to participate in the inaugural Shift: A Festival of American Orchestras, taking place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in early 2017.

The ASO and chorus will perform on March 31, joined in the week-long festival by Boulder Philharmonic (March 28), North Carolina Symphony (March 29) and the Brooklyn-based ensemble, The Knights (April 1).

A first-time collaboration of the Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts, the festival is intended to celebrate "the vitality, unique identity and extraordinary artistry of orchestras," according to Thursday's announcement.

Conducted by music director Robert Spano, the ASO and chorus will perform Christopher Theofanidis' "Creation/Creator," which was given its world premiere at Atlanta's Symphony Hall in April.

AJC classical music critic James Paulk praised the ambition of the work exploring creation and the creative process by Theofanidis, a member of the ASO's Atlanta School of Composers. "A 75-minute semi-staged piece that straddles the territory between oratorio, opera, and music theater, it brings together a large orchestra, full chorus, singers and actors," he noted.

Featured in the Washington performance will be soprano Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor Thomas Cooley, baritone Nmon Ford and bass Evan Boyer.

The booking is another positive development for the ASO after a nine-week lockout of musicians that delayed the start of this 70th anniversary season.

The revelation that Spano personally contributed $50,000 and raised thousands more to save a May 2014 tour by the ASO and chorus to Carnegie Hall from being cancelled by management received national and international media attention last fall.

Limited national and international touring in recent years has been an ongoing concern of ASO musicians. However it was not a major issue in negotiations with management, which was seeking reductions to the size of the ensemble, among other cuts, to address a decade-long run of deficits.

More on the Shift Festival:

Meanwhile, the ASO concludes its 2014-15 subscription season with two Symphony Hall concerts: Spano conducting Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Scheherazade" and Yefim Bronfman’s performing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto on May 30; and Spano conducting "Samson et Dalila," with tenor Stuart Skelton and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, on June 4 and 6. Information:

The orchestra will then takes its music-making to the great outdoors for its “Performance on the Promenade” series of free concerts on June 11, 18 and 25 in Piedmont Park. Details:

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The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.