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Francesco Lecce-Chong, Music Director and Conductor

Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong is the Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon, and the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing at the Green Music Center in Northern California. The press has described him as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift” and recognized his dynamic performances, fresh programming, deep commitment to commissioning and performing new music, as well as to community outreach. Lecce-Chong has appeared with orchestras around the world, including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic and collaborated with top soloists including Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman.

In spring 2019, Lecce-Chong debuted in subscription concerts with the San Francisco Symphony. The San Francisco Chronicle called his conducting “first rate” praising the “vitality and brilliance of the music-making he drew from members of the San Francisco Symphony.” Other recent subscription debuts included the Colorado Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic and Xi’An Symphony Orchestra. Lecce Chong also returned to conduct the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Milwaukee and San Diego Symphony. The 2019-2020 season marked his debut with the New York Philharmonic as part of the legendary Young People’s Concert Series.

In the 2020-2021 season, an unprecedented one for live orchestral music, Lecce-Chong will conduct virtual concerts with both the Santa Rosa and the Eugene Symphony, specifically created for online audiences. The performances will be streamed worldwide and will take a unique form of a cohesive musical journey, complete with interviews with musicians. The programs will include music by living composers Jessie Montgomery, Gabriella Lena Frank and Chen Yi. Santa Rosa Symphony will also celebrate Beethoven’s 250th with performances of his first three symphonies.

Following the paths of renowned music directors of the Eugene and the Santa Rosa symphonies, including Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero and Jeffrey Kahane, Lecce Chong has made his mark with the two orchestras, introducing a series of new music and community initiatives. In 2019, the orchestras announced Lecce-Chong’s “First Symphony Project,” commissioning four major orchestral works by young composers – Matt Brown, Gabriella Smith, Angélica Negrón and Michael Djupstrom - to be performed over several seasons, accompanied by multiple composer residencies and community events. In Eugene, he has reinitiated family concerts and presented a number of innovative projects such as an original multimedia performance of Scriabin’s compositions, engaging light and color.

During his successful tenures as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck, Lecce Chong also dedicated his time to opera, building his credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera, and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florentine Opera with the Milwaukee Symphony.
Lecce-Chong is the recipient of several distinctions, including the prestigious Solti Foundation Award. Trained also as a pianist and composer, he completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller, after attending the Mannes College of Music and Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy. He has had the privilege of being mentored and supported by celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, Manfred Honeck, Donald Runnicles and Michael Tilson Thomas.

"Lecce-Chong left no doubt that the magic of his debut was no fluke.  . . . he proved his mettle by pouring new life into Mozart’s tragic Symphony No. 40 and artfully molding the pacing and phrasing of Mahler’s idyllic Symphony No. 4." ~ Diane Peterson, The Press Democrat
“Francesco Lecce-Chong, the young American conductor…made a first-rate debut with the San Francisco Symphony…There was no mistaking the vitality and brilliance of the music-making he drew from members of the San Francisco Symphony. He’s got a firm but flexible rhythmic control that allows him to shepherd an orchestra at top speed without losing a bit of precision, and he can shape big instrumental textures with a robustness and grace that is inspiring to behold. Perhaps best of all, Lecce-Chong seems to be a resourceful and imaginative programmer.” ~ Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

All photos by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography

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