After a four-year national search, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra of Little Rock has appointed Geoffrey Robson as music director for the organization’s 58th season.
Robson currently serves as the symphony’s artistic director.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to be chosen to chart the path forward as the next music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, made extraordinary as I was chosen by a group of musicians, most of whom I have known for years,” Robson said in a news release. “The ASO is a marvelous organization made possible by this Arkansas community. Every single person I work with has a steadfast dedication to making beautiful music available to all.”
ASO's search for a music director was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed in 2021.
As the organization's artistic director, Robson designed programs that allowed the symphony to progress and adapt during the pandemic, such as livestreaming performances that reached over a million people globally. Those programs included the Bedtime with Bach series, which was featured in The Washington Post and on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." The transition to livestreams, with the help of the Arkansas community, allowed the symphony to employ its full-time musicians and staff throughout the 2021-2022 season, as well as continue its mission of bringing live performances to Arkansans.
Robson in 2017 was awarded the Respighi Prize in Conducting by the Chamber Orchestra of New York. Additionally, he has conducted and served as executive producer for the recording of Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement with the ASO, is a founding member of The Chelsea Symphony of New York, and has conducted several masterworks, pops, chamber and educational concerts throughout Arkansas and nationally.
"Geoff has become a remarkable conductor and leader," Christina Littlejohn, CEO of ASO, said in the news release. "From his concerts with Midori, Gil Shaham and most recently Zull Bailey, Goeff has proven himself as the artist, musician and leader this orchestra wants to follow into its future success. Whether conducting symphonic repertoire or playing bluegrass, folk, or Florence Price, he brings joy and a sense of wonder to every performance."
Robson’s appointment comes as ASO prepares to break ground on a new 20,000-SF music center in Little Rock's East Village neighborhood. Last month, the project received a $500,000 gift from Charles Morgan, CEO of First Orion of North Little Rock, and his wife, Susie.
Plans for the Stella Boyle Smith Music Center were announced in 2022. The center marks the symphony’s first permanent home in 55 years and is described as “a radically welcoming hub of musical activity for all Arkansans” by the ASO.