Performing Arts

Acclaimed conductor to join Fort Worth Symphony as 3-year ‘guest’

Grammy-winning conductor Robert Spano, a star everywhere from Carnegie Hall to “Late Night With David Letterman,” will join the Fort Worth Symphony for three years beginning in 2020 as principal guest conductor, a symphony official announced onstage Friday night at Bass Performance Hall.

As Spano stood ready to lift his baton and lead the symphony through a weekend program of Strauss and Mahler, symphony executive Keith Cerny announced that the renowned Atlanta Symphony and Aspen Music Festival conductor will lead the symphony two weekends per year through 2023 and also help local fundraising.

Spano has announced that he will depart Atlanta in 2021 for “something new.”

The symphony’s announcement quoted Spano: “I anticipate with pleasure the prospect of making great music together in the future.” He called the Fort Worth Symphony a “dynamic and enthusiastic organization.”

Fort Worth music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya has announced his departure in 2020.

The symphony’s announcement quoted Harth-Bedoya welcoming Spano as “a highly respected conductor of international standing.”

The statement also quoted Board Chair Mercedes Bass saying she is “thrilled”: “I have long admired his great work … and it is a great pleasure to have him join our orchestra in this capacity.”

Spano, 57, is an Ohio-born conductor and pianist who gained fame during his 1990s career with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In 20 seasons in Atlanta, he has won six Grammy Awards.

When he announced his plan to depart Atlanta, The New York Times called him “a force to be reckoned with in contemporary American music.”

On Friday night, Spano turned and spun energetically as he led the orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Strauss’ Four Last Songs, with soprano Jessica Rivera.

The program will be repeated Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Bass Performance Hall.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 16 Texas Legislature sessions. First on the scene of a 1988 DFW Airport crash, he interviewed passengers running from the burning plane. He made his first appearance in the paper before he was born: He was sold for $600 in the adoption classifieds.