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The first ever orchestra to make a digital recording of its performance, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is also known as ASO. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, it is an American orchestra. ASO which has had a very long working relationship with its record label, ‘Telarc’, has been bestowed with the very prestigious Grammy Awards 26 times. The orchestra’s current music director is Robert Spano but has been fortunate to have performed under the legendary music directors like Henry Sopkin, Robert Shaw and Yoel Levi.

Founded in 1945, the Atlanta Youth Symphony, as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was then called, performed under the towering musical leadership of Henry Sopkin. Sopkin was a Chicago based music director, who remained with the ASO till 1966. Sopkin’s reputation in general and the orchestra’s performance in particular, attracted great musicians like Glenn Gould and Isaac Stern , towards it. After Sopkin’s departure in 1967, Robert Shaw of Robert Shaw Chorale took over as its music director. In 1968, the ASO had started to perform on full-time basis. Before that it was performing on part-time basis only. It took Shaw only three years to form the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Shaw is also credited with best performances in the history of the ASO, when the orchestra recorded Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 . After Shaw’s departure, Yoel Levi took over the ASO as its third music director in 1988. Levi was also its principal conductor. When the ASO performed at the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics, it was under the leadership of Levi. However, in 2000, Levi became the orchestra’s music director Emeritus and was succeeded by its current music director, Robert Spano .

Known to be adventurous and ambitious in orchestral presentation and programming, Spano is an advocate of contemporary composers. Ohio born Spano has been with countless orchestras, both in the US and abroad. He has been with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Boston SymphonyOrchestra and orchestras based in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland as well as Chicago. Internationally, he has performed with orchestras based in Zurich, Amsterdam and other European cities. He has also had associations with Welsh National Opera and Royal Opera at Covent Garden. He also became the music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

The ASO’s first recording came out in the form of Nativity , which was a 2-LP Christmas album. The album was based on the orchestra’s Christmas concert, performed under the leadership of Shaw. Due to its immediate and immense popularity, the album was re-released under the name, Christmas with Robert Shaw . It was released in the form of a CD. As mentioned above, the ASO is the first to release a digital recording of its performances in the form of, Prince Igor , an Alexander Borodin’s opera and Igor Stravinsky’s, Firebird .

While based in Atlanta, Georgia, it would be wrong to assume that the orchestra does not perform outside of Atlanta. It has been to all over the world, especially Europe on several occasions. Their work with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannes Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem and Hector Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts, has been highly appreciated.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra mainly performs at Woodruff Arts Center’s AtlantaSymphony Hall. With a total capacity of 1762 seats, the hall is divided into three levels. Depending upon the settings of the stage, the seating capacity of the hall can be increased up to 82 seats. The hall is designed to accommodate people with disabilities and can have up to 12 wheelchairs. It is also equipped with wireless audio aids for those who are hearing impaired.

In addition to the above mentioned hall, for its open-air performances, the ASO has been performing at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, since 2008. Situated at 2200 Encore Parkway, the amphitheatre has the capacity of 12,000 people. With the availability of two major performance venues, the ASO is expected to put on more than 300 performances annually, and with an ever increasing budget, the orchestra is perhaps the sixth or the seventh largest orchestra in the US.

Summer time is the time to either sit on the plush seats of a great hall like the AtlantaSymphonyHall or rest on the lush green lawns like Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre lawns and enjoy the music of your choice; symphony. This is the perfect time to buy the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Tickets!

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