Review: “ASO premieres enthralling new symphony from Jonathan Leshnoff”


On November 5th and 7th Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra “caught a star on the rise” when they presented the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Symphony No. 2, “Innerspace”. Jon Ross of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it a an engaging, accessible force of new music from a composer with an approachable modern voice … [that] will surely become a lasting, heralded work.

In the composer’s own words, the symphony was born from the exploration of his Jewish heritage and unpacks the main themes from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s book on Jewish religion, “Innerspace.” In the book, Kaplan explains the five levels, or universes, of occlusion from God, which are reflected in the five movements of Leshnoff’s symphony. The first movement, which begins with an anguished cry from the horn section followed by lush, other-worldly strings, represents the first universe, where humanity resides. The fifth level, silence, is the universe that is closest to God.

Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will also perform the world premiere of Leshnoff’s Zohar oratorio, a joint commission with Carnegie Hall, on April 14 in Atlanta (then again on April 16). The program will then travel to Carnegie Hall in New York for an April 30 performance.