VOICES Notes and news on Classical releases
21 MAY 07 ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS
When people talk about Atlanta's current music scene, they're often thinking of the bustling hip hop, soul and funk which dominate the pop music charts. But conductor Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra would like ATL to become synonymous with contemporary classical music.
Spano's influence as a mentor and champion of a clutch of younger composers - his Atlanta School, which includes Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, and Michael Gandolfi - makes the Atlanta classical scene a force to be reckoned with.
The Atlanta School is a slightly weird moniker, since none of these composers call Atlanta home, and Higdon is the only one actually from Atlanta. But since his arrival as music director at the ASO seven seasons ago, Spano has used his talent, charisma, and persuasiveness to help shape the city into a locus for new music - and Spano himself is at the very center.
Take, for example, the meteoric rise of Osvaldo Golijov, which can be pinpointed to performances in 2002 of his "St. Mark Passion" led by Robert Spano. Similarly, Spano's early support for Jennifer Higdon was the seed of a major career. (According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, her piece "blue cathedral," which has been recorded by Spano and the ASO for Telarc, is one of today's most frequently performed contemporary orchestral works.)
So what's next in Atlanta, GA? Keep a look out in the '07-'08 season for world premieres from Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran and Venezuela's Gonzalo Grau, both commissioned by the ASO.