FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AUGUST 30, 2023) – Robert Spano will take the podium for his second season as Music Director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on September 8, 2023. As the first Symphonic Series performance of the 2023–2024 season, this concert features the return of the 2022 Cliburn Competition’s Gold Medalist Yunchan Lim.
This program will include Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, and pianist Yunchan Lim will be the featured soloist on Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. The Cliburn Competition’s Gold Medalist: Schumann and Brahms season opening concert will take place Friday-Saturday, September 8–9 at 7:30 PM, and 2:00 PM on Sunday, September 10 at Bass Performance Hall. Tickets range from $26.00–$99.00 and can be purchased by visiting fwsymphony.org or by calling the Box Office at 817-665-6000.
For concert information: fwsymphony.org/cliburn-competition-s-gold-medalist-schumann-and-brahms
For press images: 23-24 Season Opener
ABOUT ROBERT SPANO
Robert Spano, conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher, is known worldwide for the intensity of his artistry and distinctive communicative abilities, creating a sense of inclusion and warmth among musicians and audiences that is unique among American orchestras. After twenty seasons as Music Director, he continues his association with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Music Director Laureate. An avid mentor to rising artists, he is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors, and performers. As Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School since 2011, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students and young performers. Principal Guest Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra since 2019, Spano became Music Director Designate on April 1, 2021, and began an initial three-year term as Music Director in August 2022. He is the tenth Music Director in the orchestra’s history, which was founded in 1912.
Spano leads the Fort Worth Symphony symphonic and chamber music programs, as well as a gala concert with Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry, in addition to overseeing the orchestra and music staff and shaping the artistic direction of the orchestra and driving its continued growth. Additional engagements in the 2023-2024 season include the Atlanta and New Jersey Symphonies, Denver, Naples, and Rhode Island Philharmonics, multiple weeks at Curtis and Rice University, and a recital in Napa with Kelley O’Connor.
Maestro Spano made his highly-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2019, leading the US premiere of Marnie, the second opera by American composer Nico Muhly. Recent concert highlights have included several world premiere performances, including Voy a Dormir by Bryce Dessner at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor; George Tsontakis’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Dimitrios Skyllas’s Kyrie eleison with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; the Tuba Concerto by Jennifer Higdon, performed by Craig Knox and the Pittsburgh Symphony; Melodia, For Piano and Orchestra, by Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts at the Aspen Music Festival; and Miserere, by ASO bassist Michael Kurth.
Spano recently returned to his early love of composing. His newest work is a song cycle on Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus that he wrote for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor. In 2016, he premiered his Sonata: Four Elements for piano at the Aspen Music Festival, and a song cycle, Hölderlin-Lieder, for soprano Jessica Rivera.
The Atlanta School of Composers reflects Spano’s commitment to American contemporary music. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah Music Festivals. Guest engagements have included the Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New World, San Diego, Oregon, Utah, and Kansas City Symphonies. Internationally, Maestro Spano has led the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, Orquestra Sinfonica Estado Sao Paulo, Wroclaw Philharmonic, the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies in Australia, and the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan. His opera performances include Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and the 2005 and 2009 Seattle Opera productions of Wagner’s Ring cycles.
With a discography of critically-acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media, Robert Spano has garnered four Grammy™ Awards and eight nominations with the Atlanta Symphony. Spano is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. Maestro Spano is a recipient of the Georgia Governor’s Award For The Arts And Humanities and is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He makes his home in Atlanta and Fort Worth.
“Mr. Spano drew a glowing, spacious performance of this Brahms masterwork from the orchestra, marking a great return visit for both him and this essential ensemble.” – The New York Times
“The festival’s music director, Robert Spano, caught both the broadest and finest strokes of tempo, dynamics and critical orchestral balances. He drew the best playing in the quiet, subtle moments of the score and long buildups to big climaxes.” – Aspen Times
“The sonics of the CD are excellent, and the presence of both Rivera and Spano well-suited. It is a fine presentation of both Rivera’s voice and Spano’s collaborative capabilities at the piano, as well as his insight into his skills as a composer.” – ArtsATL
ABOUT YUNCHAN LIM
In June 2022, Yunchan Lim became the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; his performances throughout showcased a “magical ability” and a “natural, instinctive quality” (La Scena) that astounded listeners around the world. As Jury Chair Marin Alsop expressed: “Yunchan is that rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique organically together.” The depth of his artistry and connection to listeners also secured him the Audience Award and Best Performance of a New Work (for Sir Stephen Hough’s Fanfare Toccata).
Just 18 years old, Yunchan’s ascent to international stardom has been meteoric. His audacious Cliburn Semifinal Round performance of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes “created a buzz throughout the international piano community”—his “intelligent virtuosity and total immersion into Liszt’s idiom truly defined transcendental” (Gramophone). And his final Cliburn Competition appearance with Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 delivered the defining moment of the three-week event; as one critic noted: “The applause that followed was endless: a star had emerged before our eyes” (Seen and Heard International). The video of that performance trended globally on YouTube in the days after, reaching #25, and has now become the most-watched version of that piece on the platform, amassing more than 5.5 million views in just one month.
Born in Siheung, Korea, Yunchan Lim began piano lessons at age 7, when it was time to choose an after- school activity; he entered the Music Academy of the Seoul Arts Center the next year and quickly became immersed in his musical studies. He auditioned for and was accepted into the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts at age 13, where he met his teacher and mentor, Minsoo Sohn. Yunchan entered the international music stage a year later, in 2018, winning second prize and the Chopin Special Award in his first-ever competition, the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. Also that year, he stood out as the youngest participant in the Cooper International Competition, where he won both third prize and the audience prize, and was provided the opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra. The next year, 2019, brought more accolades, when, at the age of 15, he was the youngest to win Korea’s IsangYun International Competition, also taking home two special prizes.
Yunchan has since performed across South Korea—including with the Korean Orchestra Festival, Korea Symphony, Suwon Philharmonic, and Busan Philharmonic Orchestras, among others—as well as in Madrid, at the invitation of the Korea Cultural Center in Spain. He also participated in the recording of “2020 Young Musicians of Korea,” organized by the Korean Broadcasting System and released that November. His 2022–2023 inaugural tour as Cliburn winner will take him across four continents, with highlights including the Aspen Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, and Performing Arts Houston in the United States; Seoul Arts Center, National Concert Hall in Taipei, and the KBS and Korean National Symphony Orchestras in Asia; Wigmore Hall and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Europe; and a recital tour in South America. Also coming soon: the release of his debut studio recording on the Steinway label.
Speaking at a press conference after the Competition, Yunchan said, “I made up my mind that I will live my life only for the sake of music, and I decided that I will give up everything for music… I wanted my music to become deeper, and if that desire reached the audience, I’m satisfied.”
He is currently in his second year at the Korea National University of Arts, where he continues to study with Mr. Sohn.
ABOUT FORT WORTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Robert Spano is deeply committed to uniting its community through presenting over 120 performance, education, and outreach concerts, reaching an audience of more than 150,000 annually. Since its beginnings in 1912, the FWSO has been an essential thread in the city’s cultural fabric and the very foundation of Fort Worth’s performing arts. The FWSO has performed at Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. The FWSO has released 13 recordings – with several being world premiere releases – garnering international acclaim. The FWSO has embraced creative collaborations through residencies, partnerships, and commissions. As the principal resident company of the acoustically superb Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, the Orchestra performs a full season of concerts featuring internationally acclaimed guest artists and works by living composers. The Orchestra performs and partners with the Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera, The Cliburn, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Dallas Black Dance Theater, The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, and Performing Arts Fort Worth. The FWSO keeps exceptional musical experiences at the heart of its community.