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Francesco Lecce-Chong, Music Director and Conductor

The Santa Rosa Symphony proudly announces Francesco Lecce-Chong as its fifth Music Director beginning with the 2018-2019 season, "As we welcome Francesco Lecce-Chong, it signals a new era in our organization’s 90-year history," said SRS President and CEO Alan Silow. "Francesco’s talent and engaging exuberance, combined with his rising national stature, are sure to take our orchestra to new heights and strengthen our position as one of the nation’s leading regional symphony orchestras."

Francesco will conduct the October, November and January SRS classical concert sets in the 2018-2019 season, assuming a fuller presence beginning in the 2019-2020 season. He will continue to serve as Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Eugene, Oregon. 

"I am thrilled to join the Santa Rosa Symphony and become a part of its vibrant arts community," said Francesco. "The passionate musicians, dedicated staff, engaged board, and enthusiastic patrons have created an enriching environment for music to thrive, so it truly is an honor to be chosen to continue the great legacy of this orchestra. I look forward to sharing my belief in the transformational and community-building power of music with both the Eugene Symphony in Oregon and the Santa Rosa Symphony."

Francesco gained this position by a unanimous vote of the SRS Board of Directors. "Francesco represents the total package - bringing fresh energy, innovation and a tested commitment to artistic excellence, music education and community engagement,” added Alan Silow. Music Director Search Committee chairperson Jim Hinton said, "We found excellence, passion and dynamic style in his conducting, a background of superior training and broad musical knowledge, genuine sincerity and humility, and a respectful and collaborative interaction with our professional musicians." 

SRS Principal Oboe and Search Committee member Laura Reynolds said, "Francesco is an inspiring presence on the podium, with deep commitment to the craft and a musical sense, or spirit, if you will, that invites players into a collaborative space to create our sound. I very much look forward to working with him!"

Read full press release here.

Francesco Lecce-Chong

A captivating presence on the podium, American conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong has garnered acclaim for his dynamic performances, commitment to innovative programming and passion for community engagement. Lecce-Chong begins his post as Music Director and Conductor of the Eugene Symphony, in Eugene, Oregon, in the 2017-2018 season, following in the path of renowned predecessors including Marin Alsop and Giancarlo Guerrero. In addition, he holds the positions of Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Active as a guest conductor, he has appeared with orchestras around the world including the National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic and collaborated with renowned soloists including Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman.
Lecce-Chong is equally at home in opera, having built his credentials as a staff conductor with Santa Fe Opera. At the Florentine Opera, he conducted Madama Butterfly with the Milwaukee Symphony, where he has been invited to close its 2018-2019 season with Carmina Burana. Additional highlights for the 2018-2019 season include subscription debuts with the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisiana Symphony. In Europe, he has taken part in master classes at the Lucerne Festival under Bernard Haitink, as well as with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich.
Also trained as a pianist and composer, Lecce-Chong champions the work of new composers and the need for arts education. As Associate Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) from 2011-2015, he curated and presented the works of both active and lesser-known composers, including two works commissioned by the orchestra, as well as two U.S. premieres. He also helped create the first MSO Composer Institute, providing performance opportunities for young American composers. Demonstrating his commitment to arts education for all ages, Lecce-Chong provided artistic leadership for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s nationally lauded Arts in Community Education program – one of the largest arts integration programs in the country. His dedication to connecting orchestras and communities continues in Pittsburgh where he gives preconcert talks, conducts concerts for school audiences, and leads specially designed sensory-friendly performances.
Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of sixteen. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music and Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. He has worked with many internationally-celebrated conductors, including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart and Manfred Honeck. 

Lecce-Chong is represented by IMG Artists, one of the premier global artist management firms, representing artists such as vocalist Renée Fleming, violinist Joshua Bell and conductor André Previn.

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