American conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong has garnered acclaim for his dynamic performances combined with a deep commitment to nurturing the art form. Described by critics as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift,” he has appeared with orchestras around the world including the National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic while collaborating with renowned soloists such as Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. Following successful tenures as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck, he serves as Music Director for two North American orchestras, the Eugene Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony, where he has been dedicated to innovative programming, commissioning new music and engaging in community outreach.
In the 2018-19 season, Mr. Lecce-Chong has debuted in subscription with the San Francisco Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic and Xi’An Symphony in China, among others, while returning to conduct the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Milwaukee and San Diego Symphonies. The 2019-20 season will mark his debut with the New York Philharmonic. He is equally at home with opera repertoire, having built his opera credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florentine Opera with the Milwaukee Symphony.
Following in the footsteps of renowned predecessors Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero and Jeffrey Kahane, Mr. Lecce-Chong has swiftly made his mark in Eugene and Santa Rosa with a series of new music and community initiatives. Most recently, both orchestras announced Mr. Lecce-Chong’s “First Symphony Project” commissioning four major American orchestral works to be performed over the next four years accompanied by multiple composer residences and community events. In addition, the Santa Rosa Symphony will present its first ever opera in concert during the 2020-21 season under Mr. Lecce-Chong’s leadership. Mr. Lecce-Chong is also committed to the training and championing of young orchestral musicians, having served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra for three years and working with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the New World Symphony.
Francesco 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.