Breaking: ASO's artistic executive to step down in December

Evans Mirageas, Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, shares memories of Harry T. Wilks during a memorial service held Saturday, March 29, 2014, to celebrate his life at Miami University Hamilton's Parrish Auditorium. NICK DAGGY / COX NEWSPAPERS
Evans Mirageas, Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, shares memories of Harry T. Wilks during a memorial service held Saturday, March 29, 2014, to celebrate his life at Miami University Hamilton's Parrish Auditorium. NICK DAGGY / COX NEWSPAPERS

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s vice president of artistic planning, Evans Mirageas, is stepping down from his position at the end of the year, according to Jennifer Barlament, executive director of the ASO. The search has begun for an executive to work hand-in-hand with music director Robert Spano – and his eventual replacement – to craft the symphony’s artistic vision.

Mirageas came to the ASO in 2006, serving in an advisory capacity before ascending to his current role in 2012. During his time with the ASO, he has also been the artistic director of the Cincinnati Opera. Mirageas has accepted a full-time position with the Cincinnati Opera.

>> RELATED: With exit date set, Robert Spano looks back on his years with the ASO

In an email to ASO staff and musicians, Barlament explained that Mirageas “maintained a dizzyingly busy travel and work schedule, holding down the fort primarily in Atlanta from September through April, then switching gears to the Cincinnati Opera from May through August, traveling back and forth (and elsewhere) frequently.”

Even with all this juggling, Barlament continued, Mirageas “served in an important leadership role, keeping the wheels on the bus going during times of significant upheaval, then recovery, and now our transformation into a bright artistic future.”

Mirageas began his symphony career in 1989 at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he worked as artistic administrator under famed conductor Seiji Ozawa. While in Boston, Mirageas also worked with Spano, who held the title of BSO assistant conductor.

“Evans has been a tremendous creative asset to the ASO,” Barlament wrote. “His long relationship with Robert Spano … has yielded a very special artistic partnership here in Atlanta for over a decade.”

Spano announced in January that he will step down from his full-time duties in 2021, and Mirageas and the rest of the ASO staff had just begun the process of finding a new artistic director. In an interview before the 2018-19 season opener, Mirageas talked about the early stages of the search process.

“The goal is always, who is that woman or man who will have that rare combination of great chemistry with our orchestra and will be able to be a 21st century American music director, which is more than just being a great conductor?” he explained.

Among other things, Mirageas said the new conductor must have a “charisma that will allow him or her to be a real advocate for the orchestra in the community.”

The ASO now has two significant positions to fill in the next few years. But even at the beginning of the season, Mirageas said he knew the symphony was on strong footing.

“I’ve been able to watch this orchestra for a decade, and that’s somewhat the blinking of an eye in the life of an orchestra,” he said. “What I see in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra of the 2018-19 season … now there is a kind of energy and enthusiasm in the players that speaks volumes to ‘yes, they’ve gone through hard times, but the orchestra is beginning to rebuild not only in the body of the players but in the confidence of its audience.’

“Any orchestra is in a constant state of renewal,” he continued. “Everybody has their time in the sun and everybody has a time of transition, and orchestras are the same.”

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>> accessAtlanta PODCAST: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Musical Director, Robert Spano