Giancarlo Guerrero to Step Down as Music Director of the Nashville Symphony

Beginning in the 2025-26 season he will serve as Music Director Laureate.

By: Jun. 02, 2023
Giancarlo Guerrero to Step Down as Music Director of the Nashville Symphony

Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero announced today that he will step down as Music Director of the Nashville Symphony at the conclusion of the 2024-25 season, his 16th in that role. Beginning in the 2025-26 season he will serve as Music Director Laureate, and in that season and the 2026-27 season he will return to lead the Orchestra four weeks per year as the organization transitions to new artistic leadership.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have built here in Nashville, how we've done it, and where we are. We have accomplished so much musically even while persevering through a number of crises, including a flood, a major financial crisis, and finally the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a richly rewarding partnership,” said Giancarlo Guerrero. “Our tremendous discography of definitive recordings of contemporary American repertoire has also helped us remain fresh and vital and extends the brand of ‘Music City’ globally with our own musical stamp. Another way orchestras stay vital is when they—and their audiences—benefit from other perspectives. Though I look forward to being involved with the Nashville Symphony for a long time as Music Director Laureate, I am excited to see what the Nashville Symphony has in store as their identity evolves with new musical leadership.”

One of the hallmarks of the Nashville Symphony is its extraordinary commitment to commissioning, performing, and giving second life to the music of our time, and Guerrero’s fierce advocacy for building relationships with composers has added greatly to this legacy. Since taking the artistic helm of the Nashville Symphony in the 2009-10 season, Guerrero has catalyzed bold initiatives and multi-season projects including collaborations with Ben Folds, Béla Fleck, Victor Wooten, Kip Winger, and other Nashville-based recording artists; a special Gala program of John Williams music conducted by the composer at Guerrero’s invitation; commissions of multi-media presentations including Carl Orff’s Carmina burana with the Nashville Ballet, Julia Wolfe’s Her Story, and Hannibal Lokumbe’s The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph; a triumphant performance of Charles Ives’ “Universe” Symphony and Terry Riley’s Electric Violin Concerto, a Nashville Symphony commission, as part of Carnegie Hall’s 2012 Spring for Music festival; Violins of Hope Nashville; and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Conquest Requiem.

Nashville Symphony Board Chair Pamela Carter remarked, “We owe Giancarlo Guerrero a debt of gratitude for his amazing work with the Orchestra and his devotion to our city. His passion and enthusiasm for sharing musical experiences with our audiences is unparalleled, and we are grateful that he is giving us the gift of additional time with us as we search for his successor.”

Beloved by Nashville audiences, Guerrero puts a unique, Nashville stamp on every program, elevating under-represented voices, inviting internationally acclaimed guest artists, showcasing the virtuosity found within the Orchestra, and presenting well-known classical repertoire in a new light. Before every subscription concert, he illuminates the stories behind the music during free pre-concert conversations, often to standing-room-only crowds.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Giancarlo conduct our Orchestra,” said Nashville Symphony President & CEO Alan D. Valentine. “Ironically, it was his first guest conducting engagement with the orchestra, and as it happened, was scheduled just after former music director Kenneth Schermerhorn’s memorial service. It was a poignant moment for our institution, but Giancarlo knew just what to say to the Orchestra and to the audience, and he delivered a powerfully moving performance of Elgar’s Nimrod in Kenneth’s honor, to open what turned out to be an auspicious Nashville debut. We immediately re-engaged him to both open and close the subsequent season—our last in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall. By the end of that season, we all knew that he had that certain magic, and since that time, he has consistently wowed our audiences. He will definitely be a tough act to follow. We are thankful for his unwavering commitment to our community, and you can expect that his final ‘official’ season with the Orchestra will be a celebration of his greatest accomplishments, to remind us of all he has given us. On a personal note, Giancarlo has been an incredible partner to me in the enterprise that is the Nashville Symphony, and I will forever treasure our friendship.”

Nearly two dozen works have been commissioned and premiered by the Nashville Symphony under Guerrero’s leadership, including:

·Roberto Sierra, Sinfonia No. 4 (2009, commissioned through the Sphinx Commissioning Consortium)

·John Tavener, Popule Meus (2010, commissioned through Magnum Opus Project)

·Béla Fleck, The Imposter, Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra (2010)

·Daniel Bernard Roumain, Symphony for Dancers, Dreamers and Presidents (2012, commissioned through Sphinx Commissioning Consortium)

·Terry Riley, Palmian Chord Ryddle, Concerto for Electric Violin and Orchestra (2012)

·Wayne Shorter, Gaia (2013, co-commission with L.A. Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, and Detroit International Jazz Festival)

·Ben Folds, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2014, co-commission with Nashville Ballet and Minnesota Orchestra)

·Conni Ellisor & Victor Wooten, The Bass Whisperer, Concerto for Electric Bass and Orchestra (2014)

·Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Viola (2016, co-commission with Library of Congress)

·Gabriela Lena Frank, Conquest Requiem (2020)

·Julia Wolfe, Her Story (2022 world premiere, co-commission with the Boston, Chicago, National, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras)

·Hannibal Lokumbe, The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph (2023 world premiere)

In further service to contemporary music, in 2015, Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony partnered with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis and BMI to launch the Composer Lab & Workshop, an initiative to discover and nurture the next generation of outstanding American composers by offering them the opportunity to develop their talent, gain hands-on experience working with a major American orchestra, and have their work performed in a concert setting. Participants in the program have included Emily Cooley, James Diaz, Jack Frerer, Brian Raphael Nabors, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Jared Miller, Gabriela Smith, Liliya Ugay, SiHyun Uhm, and Shen Yiwen.

To date, Guerrero and the Orchestra have released 21 commercial albums, most of which were recorded live before Nashville audiences, featuring the work of a wide array of American composers, including John Adams, Michael Daugherty, John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon, Jonathan Leshnoff, Tobias Picker, Terry Riley, Christopher Rouse, and Joan Tower, to name just a handful. To date, these recordings have won 11 GRAMMY® Awards and have garnered 18 nominations across categories.

Guerrero has also been responsible for hiring 26 of the Nashville Symphony’s orchestra musicians, nearly a third of the ensemble, including Principal Second Violin, Principal Cello, Principal Oboe, Principal Clarinet, Principal Bassoon, Principal Trumpet, Principal Trombone, Principal Timpani, Principal Keyboard, and Principal Librarian.


A committee comprised from the board of directors, musician, administrative, and volunteer leadership will be immediately assembled to search for his successor.


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