Acclaimed Conductor Robert Spano '84 to Perform, Lead Q&A in Oberlin

October 24, 2016

Erich Burnett

conductor Robert Spano
Photo credit: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Robert Spano, a 1984 Oberlin Conservatory graduate who has served on the Oberlin faculty while cultivating one of the most robust conducting careers in America, will return to his alma mater for a lecture and performance on Thursday and Friday, October 27 and 28.

Spano will speak and answer questions in a 4:30 p.m. session in Stull Recital Hall on Thursday, October 27. The following day, he will perform his original composition for piano, Sonata: 4 Elements, which was given its world premiere in August at the 2016 Aspen Music Festival. It begins at 4:30 p.m. in Clonick Hall.

Both the lecture and performance are free and open to the public; both venues are located at 77 W. College St.

Renowned for his innovative programming and championing of contemporary music, Spano is in his 16th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, with which he has won six Grammy Awards for its various recordings. In great demand throughout the world, he has been a guest conductor with elite orchestras across the U.S.—including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics and the orchestras of San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia—and in Europe.

Spano also serves as music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, for which he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs each year. He has served on the Oberlin faculty since 1989.

Spano’s new composition—a relative rarity, in light of his frenetic schedule—is built around the theme of the four classical elements, one for each movement of the sonata: earth, air, water, and fire. He notes that these elements have fascinated great thinkers for thousands of years and are woven into countless Western traditions.

“I was inspired to capture something of the unique and complex qualities of each element, yet also to connect them, as they are dynamically related to each other,” Spano says in his notes about the piece.

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