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Music Directors

Henry Sopkin

1945–1966 Music Director

Robert Shaw

1967–1988
1988–1999
Music Director
Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate

Yoel Levi

1988–2000
2000–2005
Music Director
Music Director Emeritus

Robert Spano

2001–Present Music Director


Henry Sopkin
Music Director, 1945–1966

Henry Sopkin founded a youth orchestra in 1945, organized by members of the Atlanta Music Club, and later guided by a Board of Directors. In his tenure, he quickly grew the youth orchestra into what is now known as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Sopkin, a gifted young conductor and educator from Chicago, was initially brought in with a one-year contract, but by 1947, the youth orchestra became the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony Guild became more active in fundraising and ticket sales. Within a decade, the budget tripled, and the Orchestra expanded its repertoire, increasing its programs for young people and bringing the world’s top soloists to the stage. Mr. Sopkin retired in 1967 — more than two decades after his one-year contract began — and passed the baton to his successor, Robert Shaw. The Orchestra’s planned giving campaign is named in his honor – The Henry Sopkin Circle.






Robert Shaw
Music Director, 1967–1988
Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate, 1988–1999

Robert Shaw became the Orchestra’s second music director in August of 1967 and shortly thereafter founded the now legendary Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Chamber Chorus. During Mr. Shaw’s tenure, the Orchestra significantly expanded its concert offerings as well as the size and pay of the Orchestra itself. Among the highlights of his time as Music Director were the Orchestra’s first ever European tour, plus concerts in New York’s Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Mr. Shaw’s recordings with Telarc International produced 18 Grammy awards for orchestral and choral recordings. As Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he won the ASCAP Award four times for adventuresome programming of contemporary music, and he twice received the Georgia Governor’s Award in the Arts. The ASO Chorus also won the award as a group in 1989.

In 1988 Mr. Shaw stepped down and the Orchestra welcomed Yoel Levi, who was to become the third Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony. Mr. Shaw was then named Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate — a title he held until his death in 1999.

» Read More: Shaw's Legacy






Yoel Levi
Music Director, 1988–2000
Music Director Emeritus, 2000–2005

Yoel Levi was Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1988 until 2000. Among his many milestones while with the Orchestra were leading the ensemble on a critically acclaimed European tour in 1991, an internationally viewed performance of the Atlanta Symphony at the Opening Ceremony of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta in July 1996. He also led the performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. During the 1991-92 season, Mr. Levi and the Atlanta Symphony were named “Best Orchestra of the Year” during the first annual International Classical Music Awards. On his time with the Atlanta Symphony, Gramophone magazine has said, “Yoel Levi has built a reputation for himself and his Orchestra that is increasingly the envy of his Big Five American counterparts in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, and Chicago.” Following his departure in 2000, Mr. Levi was appointed the Orchestra’s Music Director Emeritus for a period of five years, ending in 2005.

Mr. Levi has made more than 40 recordings on different labels with various orchestras to date, 30 of which were with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for Telarc International. The recordings are devoted to music by Barber, Beethoven, Brahms, Copland, Dvorák, Hindemith, Kodály, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.

» Read More: Yoel Levi's IMG Artists Page






Robert Spano
Music Director, 2001–Present

Robert Spano, recognized internationally as one of the most imaginative conductors today, is currently in his tenth season as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s fourth music director. Since 2001 he has invigorated and expanded the Orchestra’s repertoire while elevating the ensemble to new levels of international prominence and acclaim.

The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Mr. Spano and the Orchestra’s commitment to nurturing and championing music through multi-year partnerships defining a new generation of American composers, including Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, and Michael Gandolfi. Since the beginning of his tenure (to date), Mr. Spano and the Orchestra have performed over 100 concerts featuring contemporary works (composed since 1950), including 13 ASO-commissioned world premieres, and three additional world premieres.

Mr. Spano has a discography with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra of nine recordings, six of which have been honored with GRAMMY® awards. He has led the Orchestra's performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, as well as the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah Music Festivals. Mr. Spano was Musical America's 2008 Conductor of the Year. In March 2010, Mr. Spano began a three-year tenure as Emory University’s Distinguished Artist in Residence, in which he spends three weeks each year leading intensive seminars, lecturing and presenting programs on science, math, philosophy, literature and musicology throughout the University’s campus.

» Read More: robertspanomusic.com






  • ASO

    Concertmaster David Coucheron Solos

    Thu Feb 04, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    ASO Concertmaster David Coucheron is featured in an Everest of the Violin Concerto repertoire – Brahms’ violin concerto.

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  • ASO

    Casual Friday: David Coucheron Plays Brahms

    Fri Feb 05, 2016 | 6:30 PM

    Featuring David Coucheron performing Brahms' Violin Concerto. All tickets $25

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  • ASO

    Concertmaster David Coucheron Solos

    Sat Feb 06, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    ASO Concertmaster David Coucheron is featured in an Everest of the Violin Concerto repertoire – Brahms’ violin concerto.

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  • ASO

    A Valentine’s Romance

    Fri Feb 12, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Jazz guitarist and bandleader John Pizzarelli joins the ASO in an evening of love songs and duets. Special guest (and John’s wife!) Jessica Molaskey joins him to put you in the mood this Valentine’s weekend! This will be a romantic evening you won’t want to miss.

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  • ASO

    A Valentine’s Romance

    Sat Feb 13, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Jazz guitarist and bandleader John Pizzarelli joins the ASO in an evening of love songs and duets. Special guest (and John’s wife!) Jessica Molaskey joins him to put you in the mood this Valentine’s weekend! This will be a romantic evening you won’t want to miss.

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  • ASO

    Sold Out: Be Mine - A Free Family Concert

    Sun Feb 14, 2016 | 3:00 PM

    Stories of young love abound during Valentine's Day. Celebrate some of the greatest young romances in classical music as told through whimsical and romantic selections from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Bizet's Carmen and Puccini's La bohème, among others.

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  • ASO

    A Valentine’s Romance

    Sun Feb 14, 2016 | 7:00 PM

    Jazz guitarist and bandleader John Pizzarelli joins the ASO in an evening of love songs and duets. Special guest (and John’s wife!) Jessica Molaskey joins him to put you in the mood this Valentine’s weekend! This will be a romantic evening you won’t want to miss.

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  • ASO

    Karen Gomyo Plays Tchaikovsky

    Thu Feb 18, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Petrushka is the tale of a puppet who after being murdered by his rival, returns to haunt his master.

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  • ASO

    Travis Tritt

    Fri Feb 19, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Travis Tritt will perform a rare & intimate solo acoustic act at Atlanta Symphony Hall on February 19, 2016.

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  • ASO

    Kennesaw State University

    Fri Feb 19, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Conductor Cristian Măcelaru leads the ASO in an evening of works from Russian composers.

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  • ASO

    Karen Gomyo Plays Tchaikovsky

    Sat Feb 20, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Petrushka is the tale of a puppet who after being murdered by his rival, returns to haunt his master.

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  • ASO

    ASO Premieres Frankenstein, Serkin Plays Brahms Piano Concerto

    Thu Feb 25, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    The Frankenstein Symphony features music from American composer Mark Grey’s full-length opera, based upon the novel by Mary Shelley. Brahms’ First Piano Concerto is based off of his first attempt at a symphony, at the behest of his mentor Robert Schumann.

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  • ASO

    Morris Robinson Community Recital

    Fri Feb 26, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    Bass Morris Robinson, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 2015-16 Artist-in-Residence, presents a FREE recital of his favorite works in collaboration with the Morehouse Glee Club.

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  • ASO

    Music for the Very Young: Stories in Sound

    Sat Feb 27, 2016 | 9:30 AM

    This program introduces a variety of contrasting musical elements with storytelling which are brilliantly interwoven to create a unique, interactive musical journey.

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  • ASO

    Music for the Very Young: Stories in Sound

    Sat Feb 27, 2016 | 11:30 AM

    This program introduces a variety of contrasting musical elements with storytelling which are brilliantly interwoven to create a unique, interactive musical journey.

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  • ASO

    ASO Premieres Frankenstein, Serkin Plays Brahms Piano Concerto

    Sat Feb 27, 2016 | 8:00 PM

    The Frankenstein Symphony features music from American composer Mark Grey’s full-length opera, based upon the novel by Mary Shelley. Brahms’ First Piano Concerto is based off of his first attempt at a symphony, at the behest of his mentor Robert Schumann.

    More Events on this Day

  • ASO

    David Cross

    Sun Feb 28, 2016 | 7:30 PM

    David Cross is bringing his comedic act to Atlanta Symphony Hall on February 28, 2016.

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