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An innovative and passionate force both on and off the conductor’s podium, Mei-Ann Chen is one of America’s most dynamic young conductors. Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011 and of the Memphis Symphony since 2010, she has infused both orchestras with energy, enthusiasm, and high-level music-making, galvanizing their audiences and communities alike.
One of the most dynamic young conductors in America, Mei-Ann Chen recently concluded her first season as Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta. Appointed in August 2010 as Music Director Designate, she led the Sinfonietta in a concert attended by over 7,000 people in Millennium Park in August of 2011 to introduce her to the people of Chicago, followed by four highly praised subscription season concerts. Her debut season was marked by two awards from the League of American Orchestras, her Helen M. Thompson Award for an emerging music director, and the Sinfonietta’s First Place ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Also Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Chen’s charismatic podium style, musicality, and personal warmth have helped fuel her meteoric rise to the top ranks of conductors in the U.S.
In great demand as a guest conductor, Ms. Chen has appeared with the Alabama, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Edmonton, Fort Worth, Naples, Nashville, National, Oregon, Pacific, Pasadena, Phoenix, Sarasota, Seattle, and Toronto Symphonies. Worldwide engagements include all the principal Danish orchestras; BBC Scottish, Bournemouth, Graz, and Trondheim Symphonies; Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Tampere Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, National Symphony of Mexico, and the Netherlands Philharmonic at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
The first woman to win the Malko Competition (2005), Ms. Chen has served as Assistant Conductor of the Oregon, Atlanta, and Baltimore Symphonies. The positions in Atlanta and Baltimore were sponsored by the League of American Orchestras. Recipient of the 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship, she has appeared jointly with Marin Alsop and Stefan Sanderling in highly acclaimed subscription concerts with the Baltimore and Colorado Symphonies and the Florida Orchestra.
Born in Taiwan, Mei-Ann Chen has lived in the United States since 1989. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Michigan, where she was a student of Kenneth Kiesler. Before that, she was the first student in the New England Conservatory’s history to receive master’s degrees simultaneously in violin and conducting. Ms. Chen also participated in the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. and the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen Orchestras.