American conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Eugene Symphony in the 2017-18 season, and he assumed the Music Director position at the Santa Rosa Symphony this season. His previous posts include associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, principal conductor of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, and associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony (MSO). A native of Boulder, CO, he began conducting at age sixteen. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music and Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. In Europe, he took part in masterclasses at the Lucerne Festival under Bernard Haitink and with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich. He has worked closely with a number of conductors including David Zinman, Edo de Waart, and Manfred Honeck.
Active as a guest conductor, Mr. Lecce-Chong has appeared with the orchestras of Washington DC, Atlanta, Toronto, Saint Louis, and Hong Kong, and collaborated with soloists such as Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. In the coming year, Mr. Lecce-Chong makes his subscription debuts with the Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, and Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, and he returns to the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Milwaukee Symphony. He makes his San Francisco Symphony debut at these performances.
Mr. Lecce-Chong is equally at home with opera repertory, having worked as staff conductor with Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly with the Milwaukee Symphony at the Florentine Opera.
Also trained as a pianist and composer, Mr. Lecce-Chong champions the work of new composers. As associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony, he curated and presented the works of both active and lesser-known composers, including two works commissioned by the orchestra, as well as two US premieres. He also helped create the first MSO Composer Institute, providing performance opportunities for young American composers. Mr. Lecce-Chong has complemented his programming with a strong commitment to arts education for all ages. In Milwaukee, he provided artistic leadership for the MSO’s Arts in Community Education program—one of the largest arts integration programs in the country. His dedication to connecting orchestras and communities continued in Pittsburgh where he gave preconcert talks, conducts concerts for school audiences, and led specially designed sensory-friendly performances.