Mei-Ann Chen, Conductor
Innovation, imagination, passion and dynamism are the hallmarks of conductor Mei-Ann Chen. Music Director of the 2016 MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, and Artistic Director and Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival since 2016, she is acclaimed for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm and high-level music-making, and galvanizing audiences and communities alike. In December 2015, Musical America, the bible of the performing arts industry, named Mei-Ann Chen one of its 2015 Top 30 Influencers (people, described by MusicalAmerica.com editor Susan Elliot as "...folks about whom you could say 'When they speak, we listen.'"). A sought- after guest conductor, Ms. Chen's reputation as a compelling communicator has resulted in growing popularity with orchestras both nationally and internationally.
Among her guest engagements in the 2016-2017 season are debuts and returns to the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw, Sweden's Malmo SymfoniOrkester, Austria's Orchester Graz, Finland's Tampere Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, as well as both the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan (Taipei) and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (Taichung).
Recent performance highlights include leading the Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Germany's Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra, return engagements to symphonies of Grand Rapids, Toledo and Tucson, and making debut appearances with Santa Rosa Symphony and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as the Netherlands Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw, Canada's Calgary Philharmonic and Edmonton Symphony, Brazil's Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Orquestra Filarmonica de Minas Gerais, and the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Oregon, and San Diego. Among her many notable North American guesting credits are appearances with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Colorado, Columbus, Florida, Nashville, North Carolina, Pacific, Phoenix, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. Overseas guesting credits include Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestras of Denmark's Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and South Jutland, the BBC Scottish Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico, Norrland's Opera (Sweden), Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Trondheim Symphony (Norway). U.S. summer music festival credits include Aspen, Britt, Grand Teton, Ravinia, National Repertory Orchestra, Texas Music Festival, Wintergreen, and the Chautauqua Institute.
Ms. Chen's skills both on and off the podium have been recognized, as someone who has redefined the orchestra experience and as a music educator. Among her honors and awards are the 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras and First Prize Winner of the 2005 Malko Competition in Copenhagen (the first woman to do so). As recipient of the 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship, she appeared jointly with Marin Alsop and Stefan Sanderling in highly acclaimed subscription concerts with the Baltimore Symphony, Colorado Symphony and Florida Orchestra.
Following a successful six season tenure (2010-2016) as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra Ms. Chen was named Conductor Laureate this past spring. She served as Assistant Conductorof the Atlanta Symphony and Baltimore Symphony under the aegis of the League of American Orchestras, and with the Oregon symphony as well. In 2002, Ms. Chen was unanimously selected as Music Director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic in Oregon, the oldest of its kind and a model for many youth orchestras in the United States. During her five-year tenure with the orchestra, she led its sold-out debut in Carnegie Hall, received an ASCAP award for innovative programming, and developed new and unique musicianship programs for the orchestra's membro. She was also the recipient of a Sunburst Award from Young Audiences for her contribution to music education.
Born in Taiwan, Mei-Ann Chen has lived in the United States since 1989. She was the first student in New England Conservatory's history to receive master's degrees simultaneously in both violin and conducting. She later studied with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting. Ms. Chen also participated in the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. and at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen.