Breaking: Atlanta picks Nathalie Stutzmann as music director

Breaking: Atlanta picks Nathalie Stutzmann as music director


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2021

The French contralto and conductor has just been named music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, succeeding Robert Spano.

She will start next season.

Stutzmann, 56, will have to give up one of her other jobs as Principal Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chief Conductor of Norway’s Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra.

She is only the second woman to head a major US orchestra, after Marin Alsop at Baltimore. Her career is managed out of London by AskonasHolt.

Nathalie says: ‘“It is a privilege to be named Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The devoted commitment to music of the ASO musicians touches my heart. They have beautiful open minds, and they love to work hard, to be challenged and to take the necessary risks to serve the music and bring the highest levels of emotion to their audience. There is a special chemistry between the orchestra and me that we all immediately recognized, and this is the perfect time for us to deepen our relationship. After doing such wonderful work with Robert Spano over the past 20 years, the orchestra is in top shape, and I look forward to working with this incredible ensemble to chart new artistic territory. As a singer, I am also thrilled about the prospect of working with the ASO Chorus, which is one of America’s finest choirs. We are planning several ambitious projects, including performances of Mozart’s Requiem in March 2022 and of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, a life-changing experience for any orchestra, during the 2022-23 season. It is also very important for us to connect with the Atlanta community, sharing our infectious love of music. Fulfilling the community’s hopes and expectations is a huge responsibility and a legacy that I am honored to continue.’



  • Nyc says:

    she is not very good and philly orchestra does not take her seriously. perhaps atlanta ran out of options and just wanted to make headlines by hiring a woman conductor because that orchestra only makes headlines with their strikes.

    • Alan says:

      Absolute nonsense. She was guest conductor of the NSO in Dublin before the pandemic and her concerts constantly sold out. A rarity in Dublin. I was sorry we lost her and the best of luck to her. If you live in Atlanta you’re in for a treat.

      • Frank Flambeau says:

        Alan is spot on.

        The sadly misinformed Nyc says “that orchestra (Atlanta) only makes headlines with their strikes.” Apparently, Nyc doesn’t know that the ASO has won 27 Grammy Awards and has had very distinguished conductors including Robert Shaw, Yoel Levi and Robert Spano (a better batting average than the NY Philharmonic over the same time frame). Have they also had labor problems: yes, but name an orchestra that hasn’t.

        • Orchestra fan says:

          That’s the typical NYC arrogance. They think they’re the center of the world. When in fact the NY Phil is second rate AT BEST.

          Bravo to ASO for appointing Stutzmann.

    • Amos says:

      Enough already with the misogyny. The orchestra has recorded numerous well received pieces with RS, LL, YL and the recently departed RS. Last, learn when and how to capitalize.

    • Karen says:

      The ASO labor disputes you mention were in 2012 and 2014, and were both lockouts, not strikes.

    • Mark Gresham says:

      Try “lockouts” not “strikes.” The two major work stoppages last decade were both lockouts. They were not strikes. The last thing management wanted in either case was headlines. They wanted media to be quiet or dismiss the situation. Checkbox for “woman”? Not much doubt that was there in some decision-making minds, but not at the expense of a credible conductor. Not mutually exclusive ideas. I and two other local critics were betting early on that they would likely select a woman. Sign of the times.

    • Amy says:

      …”not very good”…Wow.
      You are apparently out of touch with actual musicians who’ve played under her.

    • BRUCEB says:

      Thank you for your insightful and illuminating comment.

    • Harry Dahlsjo says:

      Just so we’re clear, while Ms. Stutzmann has an actual career in music you post bitter and misogynist comments on Slipped Disc.

      “acidy poisons the soul’s stream”.

    • john Kelly says:


  • pvl says:

    Lucky they are in Atlanta!

  • JJ says:

    Fantastic news!

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t know how she is as a conductor but she’s a great singer and musician, so this could be an interesting choice.

  • Aleph says:

    Worthy successor to Robert Shaw to bring this orchestra and chorus to their new chapter, hopefully an equally rich choral discography comes out of the partnership.

    • Mark Gresham says:

      We will see how that works out with what may be two entirely different schools of thought toward choral music. Given my observations at Wednesday night’s concert, it will be interesting to see how the legacy Shaw techniques and Stutzmann’s musical sensibilities clash or jive. We will find out in March with Mozart’s Requiem. It could be a new turn of direction for the ASO Chorus. (I was once a second tenor in the ASOC, so speak from some inside experience.) There is significant musicianship in Stutzmann’s conducting. You’ll have to go to my website to read the details from Wednesday.

  • Mark Gresham says:

    Nathalie Stutzmann is guest conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra tonight and tomorrow night (Oct. 13 & 14) which is an unusual scheduling, most likely to accommodate what was to have been her Metropolitan Opera debut but was canceled (see Slipped Disc, July 14). Tonight she will be conducting Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5,” Verdi’s Overture to “La forza del destino,” and the U.S. premiere of “Dark with Excessive Bright” by Missy Mazzoli, with violinist Peter Herresthal as soloist. I will be there.

  • Hervé LeMansec says:

    Félicitations, Nathalie.
    Heureux mélomanes d’ Atlanta !

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    Maestro Spano also deserves a big thank you for all he has done.

    I’ve said it before, musical talent in the USA is moving South and West and NYC no longer has a monopoly on it.

  • musician says:

    well if you are going to consider Baltimore a “major” orchestra, then why not Buffalo and Joanna Faletta as well?

    • The View from America says:

      I’m sure it has something to do with the number of concerts each orchestra presents during the concert season. But viewed another way, the recordings that have come out of Buffalo under Falletta have been far more interesting and memorable than those released by Baltimore with Alsop.

      It will be interesting to see who Baltimore selects next after Alsop departs, whereas Falletta continues on merrily as MD in Buffalo — 22 years and counting, as her contract has been extended yet again. A 22-year tenure is almost unheard of among major US orchestras these days; runner-up Welser-Most comes in at 19 years in Cleveland.

      • john Kelly says:

        Agreed. For example, her Gliere Ilya Murometz is wonderful (yes, it’s a guilty pleasure) and the Naxos disc of Duke Ellington’s music is absolutely superb…..

    • MacroV says:

      Baltimore is more “major” than Buffalo, which I’m sure nonetheless is a fine orchestra.

    • BRUCEB says:

      Technically the designation is done according to budget size. I don’t know where the line is drawn, but I would think that Baltimore & Atlanta both have bigger budgets than Buffalo.

  • opus30 says:

    Anne Manson was music director of the Kansas City Symphony from 1999-2003, an orchestra certainly on the same level if not better than the orchestras in Baltimore and Atlanta.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    The Buffalo Philharmonic might not count as a “major” US orchestra (what is the criterion?), but they have certainly made first-class recordings under music director JoAnn Falletta, who should not be ignored as long as one’s making a list.

  • Alexander T says:

    Ça va sans plus….

  • Greg says:

    Thank goodness the dull and uninspired tenure of Spano is over. He overstayed his welcome by about 15 years. Many wonderful principal musicians left the orchestra under his watch and went to higher profile orchestras. Hopefully his successor breathes some new life into what has become a bit of a moribund and colorless ensemble. The number of Grammys this orchestra has received is farcical. They owe a great debt to Telarc engineers and the wonderful ASO chorus.

    • Musician says:

      Musicians have moved on from Atlanta because of higher pay and better work conditions. It has nothing to do with Robert Spano.

  • SMH says:

    Why is Eun Sun Kim never mentioned in these conversations? San Francisco Opera is a major house and orchestra…….

  • Danny says:

    Maestro Nathalie Stutzmann was hired by the ASO because of the incredible musician she is. The fact that she is a woman was not a factor, and those who know her as a musician know that her music making speaks for itself. Those who don’t know her say regrettable things. Their loss and definitely the gain for the ASO! Spano and Runnicles stayed by the side of the orchestra through two difficult LOCKOUTS and if it wasn’t for them and the orchestra fighting to maintain a major orchestra status, then Stutzmann wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be the next Music Director either.

  • Guest 123 says:

    Okay. I’m ready to be on the minority list. She gets a pass as a conductor due to her vocal prowess but her actually conducting and interpretations are subpar.