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The ASO 2017–18 season will begin September 21 with a program that features Gershwin. (Photo by Jeff Roffman.)

News: The ASO announces its 2017–18 season, two-year tribute to Beethoven and Bernstein

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announced its lineup today for the 2017–18 season, which will kick off a two-year “LB/LB” celebration of Leonard Bernstein and Ludwig van Beethoven that will feature all nine Beethoven symphonies and six performances of Bernstein favorites.

“Leornard Bernstein, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2018, and Ludwig van Beethoven are from different centuries and different worlds, but both ‘LBs’ embraced an egalitarian idealism and displayed a groundbreaking genius,” ASO music director Robert Spano said in a press release. “I have long been a champion of both composers, and look forward to performing Bernstein’s music in counterpoint to Beethoven.”

Over the next two seasons, the ASO will not only perform the Beethoven symphonies but also all five of his piano concertos and his violin concerto. Pianist Jonathan Bliss will perform all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in a series of intimate recitals.

In addition, the ASO will collaborate with the Alliance Theatre for Bernstein’s opera Candide that will include the ASO Chorus.

The orchestra will perform two world premieres and seven ASO premieres, with guest artists that include Yo-Yo Ma, Kathleen Battle, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Hilary Hahn and Conrad Tao.

In addition, tenor Russell Thomas will make his ASO debut in the title role for a concert performance of Verdi’s opera Otello. “Thomas is one of a handful of African American tenors to essay this monument of Verdi’s music,” Evans Mirageas, the ASO’s vice president of artistic planning, said in a press release. “He feels ready to take on this ultimate challenge for an Italian opera tenor. There’s no harder, more punishing role in the Italian repertoire than Otello — it’s a tour-de-force.”

The ASO will also feature new music by its own Michael Kurth, a member of the Atlanta School of Composers founded by Spano. Kurth’s music will be performed throughout the season in preparation for a recording to be released by the ASO in 2019.

The ASO’s acclaimed Chorus will be featured in six concerts: Verdi’s Otello, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Mozart’s Requiem, Bernstein’s Candide, Bach’s Cantata No. 80 and an untitled commission by Kurth.

The season begins September 21 with a “Get Jazzed” program that features Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Kurth’s “A Thousand Words” and Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” with Spano conducting.