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                             Henry Sopkins' role in founding the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Founded: 1945 Atlanta, USA

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debuted in 1945 as the Atlanta Youth Symphony, organized by members of the Atlanta Music Club and later guided by a Board of Directors. Henry Sopkin, a gifted young conductor and educator from Chicago, was brought in as Conductor on a one-year contract. He remained with the organization for more than two decades and built it from a youth ensemble into a respected regional orchestra.

By 1947, the fledgling group had become the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony Guild became more active in fundraising and ticket sales. Within a decade, the orchestra's budget tripled. The Symphony expanded its repertoire, increased its special programs for young people, and brought top-flight soloists such as Glenn Gould and Isaac Stern to Atlanta. In 1964, the ASO was a founding member of the Atlanta Arts Alliance, the arts organization that has evolved into today's Woodruff Arts Center.

As it grew, the Orchestra continued to employ all its musicians on a part-time basis until 1968, even as the pioneering efforts of Sopkin raised the performance quality of the ASO to a professional level. Upon his retirement in 1966, a year-long search had already identified a music director to guide the Atlanta Symphony into a new era of growth.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is one of the youngest American orchestras to achieve prominence on the global stage. Now in its 56th season, the ASO's stature was most recently affirmed when - following a two-year international search - the Orchestra announced on February 8, 2000, the appointments of Robert Spano as Music Director Designate and Donald Runnicles as Principal Guest Conductor Designate.

The hiring of the two critically-acclaimed maestros were greeted with virtually universal acclaim. Approaching their leadership role with the Orchestra as a creative partnership, both conductors will officially begin their full duties in September 2001. (Each will also continue with the organization he currently conducts, Mr. Spano with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and Runnicles with the San Francisco Opera.)

During the current 2000-01 season, Spano conducts the ASO in four weekends of concerts, Mr. Runnicles in three, and both will record with the Orchestra for Telarc. Their partnership, which has already begun, clearly signals a dynamic, new era for the ASO and an enlightening experience for Atlanta music lovers.


Information from http://www.atlantasymphony.org