Mei-Ann Chen

2007 Fellow

  • Music Director, Memphis Symphony Orchestra
  • Music Director, Chicago Sinfonietta

One of the most dynamic young conductors in America, Mei-Ann Chen is currently in her second season as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The impact of her energy, enthusiasm and high level of music-making has already been felt by the orchestra, audiences and entire community. In July of 2011, she also assumed the music directorship of the Chicago Sinfonietta, only the second person in the orchestra’s history to hold this position.

Among Ms. Chen’s upcoming highlights are debuts on the Chicago Symphony subscription series, the Netherlands Philharmonic at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Aspen Music Festival.  Other debuts include the symphonies of Jacksonville, Naples, North Carolina, San Diego, San Francisco, Sarasota and Tucson, as well as the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony and the Tampere Philharmonic in Finland. 

Ms. Chen recently stepped in on short notice for a very successful debut with the Cincinnati Symphony. She has also appeared with the Rochester Philharmonic and the symphonies of Alabama, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Edmonton (Canada), Florida, Fort Worth, Nashville, National (Washington, DC), Oregon, Pacific, Pasadena, Phoenix, Seattle and Toronto. Worldwide engagements include all the principal Danish orchestras, BBC Scottish Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Graz Symphony, National Symphony of Mexico, Norrlands Opera Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Trondheim Symphony. Festival appearances include Grand Teton, Chautauqua, Wintergreen and the Texas Music Festival in Houston. 

The first woman to win the Malko Competition (2005), Ms. Chen has served as Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta, Baltimore and Oregon 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 Symphony, Colorado Symphony and Florida Orchestra.

In 2002, Ms. Chen was unanimously selected as Music Director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic in Oregon, the oldest of its kind and the model for many of the 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 members. She was honored with 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 holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Michigan, where she was a student of Kenneth Kiesler. Prior to that, she was the first student in New England Conservatory’s history to receive master’s degrees, simultaneously, in both violin and conducting. Ms. Chen also participated in the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. and the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen.

About the League of American Orchestras’ American Conducting Fellows Program

A national conductor-training program developed and managed by the League of American Orchestras, the League’s American Conducting Fellows program supports the musical and leadership development of exceptional talented conductors in the early stages of their professional careers. Aiming to improve the qualifications of American conductors to assume leadership roles as music directors of American orchestras, the program is funded by major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.