Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's new music director announces 2022-2023 season

atlanta symphony orchestra
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performing in November 2021. (Photo by Robb Cohen/Invision/AP)

This fall, conductor Nathalie Stutzmann officially assumes the position of music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The acclaimed French conductor, contralto singer and multi-instrumentalist first worked with the ASO as a guest conductor in 2020. Her transition to music director this year marks a new chapter for the orchestra under the guidance of its first-ever female conductor. Stutzmann joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about her upcoming 2022-2023 season of music with the ASO.

Last weekend, Reitzes attended the ASO’s performance under Stutzmann and remarked on the passionate outpouring of audience enthusiasm. Stutzmann responded, “I was so moved and, I must say, really almost in tears when I came on stage … Before I did anything, the whole audience stood up and just greeted me, like, for a minute, with only love.”

Stutzmann’s first week as the official new music director represents, for her, an essential introduction of her musical sensibilities to ASO followers. “So I wanted to have a week which was very clearly showing the directions of my passions and my work,” said Stutzmann. “And I couldn’t imagine that week, after all, what we survived all together, without performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is really the work of friendship, putting people together again, after having put people separately and far away from each other for so long. It was very symbolic.”

Such a grand opening draws out the most potent talent from all of the orchestra’s sections in a piece widely beloved. But Stutzmann has lesser-known works on the menu, which will introduce classical music fans to contemporary artists; in some cases, works never before performed by the ASO. These include George Walker’s “Lilacs” and a choral symphony, “Words for Departure,” commissioned by Stutzmann from composer Hillary Purrington when Stutzmann led the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2020. 

With music, Stutzmann believes an orchestra undertakes the telling of a story, and she aims to achieve this on multiple levels. “I truly believe … we have to be storytellers because every human needs storytelling,” said Stutzmann. “What do you do when your child is nervous, and you want to make him feeling relaxed and going to bed? Just telling a story … Music is mainly about storytelling as well. So I approach it through the music, of course, as a priority, but behind the notes of the composers, there is the storytelling — which sentiment is there, which emotion, what was happening.”

Her first season’s performance of Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht” will be accompanied by lush visual projections, supporting a rich musical story of love. “The program is built up around love in different aspects, clearly describing his passion for Clara Schumann, which he was never able to really achieve, but which was such an inspiration for his music all over the years,” Stutzmann said.

More about the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming 2022/23 season of music under the direction of conductor Nathalie Stutzmann can be found at