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Francesco Lecce-Chong

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

In 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 include the Seattle Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Utah Symphony, North Carolina 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. In 2019, he also debuted with the New York Philharmonic as part of the legendary Young People’s Concert Series.   
Lecce-Chong’s debuts in the 22-23 seasons include performances with the Kansas City Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Knoxville Symphony, as well as a European appearance at the renowned Enescu Festival with the Romanian Radio Orchestra. He continues a Rachmaninoff symphonic cycle in Santa Rosa, presents the second act of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in Eugene, and leads the world premieres of new major orchestral works by Ellen Taafe Zwillich and Angélica Negrón.

In the previous seasons that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, Lecce-Chong created and led a series of virtual performances with both the Santa Rosa and the Eugene Symphony. The full season of performances was streamed for free to thousands of enthusiastic viewers around the world. The Santa Rosa Symphony also reached over two million households in the Bay Area through its “Santa Rosa Symphony Presents” TV broadcasts through local PBS. The programming included over 20 works by living composers and a groundbreaking partnership with the Pulitzer Prize winner Zwillich, culminating in a recording of her music by the Santa Rosa Symphony released in September 2022 on the Delos label.

­During his tenure as Music Director of two orchestras, Lecce-Chong has introduced several ambitious projects. He launched the “First Symphony Project” that consists of the Santa Rosa and Eugene Symphonies co-commissioning a large-scale work from a young American composer each season, complete with residencies in the community. The Eugene Symphony has embarked on a three-part concert presentation of Wagner’s complete Tristan und Isolde and the Santa Rosa Symphony launched a cycle of the large orchestral works of Rachmaninoff paired with legendary film composers entitled “RACH and the Hollywood Sound”. Last season, Lecce-Chong lead the world premieres of five major orchestral works including an ecology-inspired work by Grammy-winning composer Michael Daugherty, a work for mariachi and orchestra by Enrico Chapela Barba, and a dramatic work with actors based on the life of Olympic athlete Steve Prefontaine by David Schiff. He continues to build partnerships with local art institutions, schools and businesses to create original, multi-disciplinary experiences for his audiences.

Before his music directorships, Lecce-Chong served as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck. He has also been building his opera credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florence 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 Insitute 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.




Photos by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography

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