Geoffrey Robson, Conductor


Quest and Destiny

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Richard Strauss: Don Juan
Florence Price: Ethiopia’s Shadow in America
Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2

Join the notorious Spanish rake on his legendary quest to find the perfect woman with Richard Strauss’ Don Juan. Written in 1888, Don Juan has been keeping musicians up at night ever since. The technical challenges of this piece are legendary, and you’ll be right there as the artists of the Greenville Symphony bring their years of training and incredible skill to bear for the realization of this work.

Prolific Arkansan composer Florence Price wrote Ethiopia’s Shadow in America in 1932, but it was lost along with many of her other compositions until rediscovered in an abandoned home in Illinois in 2009. While her music is neo-romantic in style, it is thoroughly American and unmistakably Southern. Price is the first African-American woman composer to have a work performed by a major American orchestra.

Brahms jokingly called Piano Concerto No. 2 “a tiny concerto,” and when you hear it, you’ll laugh too, because the last thing anyone would call this intensely dramatic and passionate piece is tiny. The composer premiered the concerto himself in Budapest in 1881, and dedicated it to his childhood piano teacher. We were fortunate to get GRAMMY-nominated pianist Andrius Žlabys as our soloist for this experience and can’t wait to hear him fill Peace Center Concert Hall with Brahms’ “tiny” tribute to his mentor. 

Geoffrey Robson has emerged as a force of artistic leadership throughout the U.S. and the state of Arkansas. As Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, his dynamic leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in state-wide and national visibility for the organization. By overseeing an accelerated shift to virtual offerings of performances and educational content, Maestro Robson ensured continued success of the orchestra and continued employment of all musicians and staff. The orchestra’s online Bedtime with Bach series received nationwide acclaim and was featured by the Washington Post and the Kelly Clarkson Show.

In 2017, he was awarded the Respighi Prize in Conducting by the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and led the group in performance at Carnegie Hall. He has worked with renowned artists such as Gil Shaham, Midori, Rachel Barton Pine, Zuill Bailey, Vadym Kholodenko, Alexander Markov, Mandy Gonzalez, the Beach Boys, and many others.

During his tenure in Arkansashe has conducted critically acclaimed and sold-out masterworks, pops, chamber, and children’s concerts. He frequently collaborates with organizations such as Ballet Arkansas, Arkansas Children’s Theater, Opera in the Rock, the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, and numerous choral groups. He also writes, records, and produces At the Symphony, a concert preview radio series on KLRE Classical 90.5 in Little Rock.

Robson also currently serves as Artistic Director of the Faulkner Chamber Music Festival. In this role, he curates a summer concert series and serves as director of the chamber music camp, which provides a unique, immersive experience to music students in the art of playing chamber music. He has served on the music faculty of Hendrix College, and was Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Central Arkansas, where he conducted the Conway Symphony Orchestra. 

He has conducted numerous ballet and opera productions including The Nutcracker, La Bohème, and Madama Butterfly with the Plano Symphony (Texas) and Opera in the Rock (Little Rock). As a founding member of The Chelsea Symphony (New York), he conducted numerous sold-out performances and served as an artistic advisor, ensuring the growth and success of the organization. 

A champion of new music, Robson collaborates with and explores the music of renowned living composers. In 2016, he conducted the San Juan (Colorado) Symphony in the world-premiere of James Stephenson’s Concerto for Hope with celebrated trumpeter Ryan Anthony. He served as arranger, conductor, and violinist for the world-premiere of Billy Blythe, a one-act opera based on the life of the young Bill Clinton, by Bonnie Montgomery. He conducted the premiere of Into the Beautiful North by Joe Brent, performed by the 9 Horses trio, as well as the premiere of Richard III, A Crown of Roses, A Crown of Thorns, an opera by Karen Griebling. In 2021 and 2022, he secured commissions of new works by Tania León and James Lee III, which were performed by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

As a violinist, Robson is an avid chamber musician and regularly collaborates with musicians across the country. He served as concertmaster of the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and as Assistant Concertmaster of the Waterbury Symphony. He is recognized for his skill and versatility as a violinist and fiddle player, and has established himself as a highly sought-after studio musician. He creates and performs string and orchestral arrangements for recording artists to assist them in achieving their musical goals in the studio.

Utilizing his extensive studio experience, Robson conducted and served as executive producer for the 2021 recording of Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement, with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. He is also an orchestral pops arranger and his music has been featured in numerous ASO performances.

Robson studied orchestral conducting at the Mannes College of Music in New York City under the tutelage of David Hayes and holds violin performance degrees from Yale University and the Michigan State University Honors College. Primary violin teachers include Erick Friedman, Dmitri Berlinsky, James Krehbiel, and I-fu Wang.

He studied conducting at Yale University with Lawrence Leighton Smith, Edward Cumming, and Shinik Hahm. Other notable teachers include John Farrer, Neil Thomson, Joana Carneiro, Dirk Brossé, and Larry Rachleff.

View Geoffrey Robson’s Website

“His easy virtuosity is a wonder” (The Strad)

“Contemplative and mesmerizing” (Los Angeles Times): Grammy-nominated pianist Andrius Žlabys has received international acclaim for his appearances with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires.

Andrius Žlabys — born in Lithuania and trained at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia — was 18 years old when the Chicago Tribune wrote: “Pianist-composer Andrius Žlabys is one of the most gifted young keyboard artists to emerge in years.” Žlabys was also heralded by The New York Sun in a review titled “A Shining Hope of Pianists” after his recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Mr. Žlabys’s concerts have included appearances on many of the world’s leading stages, such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Phillips Collection, Teatro Colón, and Suntory Hall. In 2012 Andrius Žlabys made his concerto debut at the Salzburg Festival performing Mozart’s Concerto K.467 with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra conducted by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla.

He has also appeared at numerous festivals, including the Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Lockenhaus Festival and Caramoor music festival, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at the Isaac Stern Auditorium with the New York Youth Symphony conducted by Misha Santora in 2001 in a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. He was also invited the following season as soloist with Kremerata Baltica to perform Benjamin Britten’s Young Apollo at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall.

A multifaceted musician of wide-ranging repertoire, Andrius Žlabys holds a special reverence for J. S. Bach, while remaining a strong advocate for the contemporary stage with numerous works commissioned by and written for him. Andrius Žlabys has enjoyed collaborations with several esteemed musicians, including violist Yuri Bashmet, violinist Hilary Hahn, and an enduring collaboration with violinist Gidon Kremer with whom Žlabys has toured extensively in Europe, Japan, South America, and the U.S.

He is a featured soloist in “Between two Waves” by Victor Kissine for piano and string orchestra released on ECM in collaboration with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica. Žlabys received a Grammy nomination for his recording of Enescu’s Piano Quintet with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica.

He was a winner of the 2000 Astral Artists National auditions. Andrius Žlabys began piano studies at the age of six in his native Lithuania with Laima Jakniuniene at the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art, and continued his studies in the U.S. with Victoria Mushkatkol (Interlochen Arts Academy), Seymour Lipkin (Curtis Institute of Music), Sergei Babayan (Cleveland Institute of Music), and Claude Frank (Yale School of Music).

View Andrius Žlabys’s Website


Want to get to know the conductor and learn about the music before you experience it? Join Geoffrey Robson and Greenville Symphony Executive Director Jessica Satava for a pre-concert chat about the program.

This concert is complete. Don't wait to secure your seats for next season!