By Howard Pousner
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Spano is taking on another major role, as artistic leader of the Aspen Music Festival and School, it was announced Saturday.
Spano will serve as music director-designate during the 2011 summer season, during which he will conduct four concerts, and assume the full music director role in 2012. The 49-year-old musician will also lead the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen as a co-director in 2011 and director starting in 2012.
The ASO’s maestro for a decade called the Aspen appointment “more than an honor” in a prepared statement. “Over the last two decades, I have found my time in Aspen to be inspirational in every way.”
Spano first conducted in Aspen, a training spot for elite young musicians, in 1993 and has led more than a dozen programs there over eight additional seasons. While directing the ASO, he has maintained an active guest conducting career of top orchestras and opera companies while maintaining academic roles at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and Emory University.
His new summertime role in Aspen should not be of major consequence in Atlanta, where the ASO has trimmed the number of classical concerts at its summer home, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, due to decreased demand.
In Aspen, he succeeds David Zinman, who quit in a a dispute with management over faculty downsizing and other issues.
“My responsibility is to move from where we are to what’s next,” Spano told The New York Times.