Praised for her dynamic, passionate conducting style, Taiwanese American conductor Mei-Ann Chen is acclaimed for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm and high-level music-making, galvanizing audiences and communities alike. Music Director of the MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, Ms. Chen has been named Chief Conductor of Austria’s recreation - Grosses Orchester Graz at Styriarte beginning fall 2021 after two seasons as the orchestra’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor, making her the first female Asian conductor to hold this position with an Austrian orchestra. Since September 2019, she also serves as the first-ever Artistic Partner of Houston’s ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra). Ms. Chen also has served as Artistic Director & Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival since 2016. Highly regarded as a compelling communicator and an innovative leader both on and off the podium, and a sought-after guest conductor, Ms. Chen continues to expand her relationships with orchestras worldwide (over 110 orchestras to date).
Upcoming engagements include serving on the jury for the prestigious Malko Competition for Young Conductors in 2021, Carnegie Hall’s NYO2, concerts with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival, and the highly anticipated return of Chicago Sinfonietta to the renowned Ravinia Festival. In addition to subscription performances with Chicago Sinfonietta, recreation - Grosses Orchester Graz at Styriarte, and ROCO, highlights of the 2021-2022 season include return engagements to England’s BBC Symphony in London, Finland’s Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Liechtenstein Symphony Orchestra, Norway’s Oslo Philharmonic, Het Residentie Orkest in The Netherlands, Malmö and Norrlandsoperan in Sweden, and Taiwan Philharmonic, and a debuts with Santa Fe Pro Musica and Spain’s Basque National Orchestra. Amongst postponed dates due to Covid-19 are debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Germany’s Staatsorchester Darmstadt, and Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra, returns with San Francisco Symphony, Netherlands Philharmonic, and Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Recent guesting highlights include Austria’s Tonkünstler-Orchester, Finland’s Tampere Filharmonia, Germany’s Musikalische Adademie des Nationaltheater-Orchestesters Mannheim, and NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover, Sweden’s Gävle and Helsingborg Symphonies, Switzerland’s Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra at Weiwuying (the world’s largest performing arts center since 2018), in addition to return engagements with symphonies of America’s Atlanta, Detroit, Pacific and Toledo.
Other North American guesting credits include appearances with symphonies of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, National, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle, Toronto, Tucson, and Vancouver, to name a few. Amongst her overseas guesting credits are the symphonies of BBC Scottish; Brazil’s São Paulo (OSESP); Denmark’s National, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen Philharmonic; Germany’s Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe; Mexico’s National; Norway’s Trondheim; Sweden’s Gothenburg and Norrköping; Switzerland’s Basel; and Turkey’s Bilkent in Ankara.
As Music Director of Chicago Sinfonietta, Ms. Chen has made two recordings for Cedille Records: "Project W - Works by Diverse Women Composers" (March 2019, nominated for GRAMMY® Award for Producer of the Year, Jim Ginsburg) and "Delights and Dances" (June 2013). In 2018, Innova Records released River Oaks Chamber Orchestra's debut album "ROCO: Visions Take Flight” (recognized with a GRAMMY® Award for Producer of the Year, Blanton Alspaugh) featuring 5 commissioned contemporary works conducted by Ms. Chen.
Past honors include being named one of the 2015 Top 30 Influencers by Musical America; the 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras; Winner, the 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship founded by Marin Alsop; and 2005 First Prize Winner of the Malko Competition (she remains as the only woman in the competition history since 1965 to have won First Prize). Ms. Chen is Conductor Laureate of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra after serving as Music Director 2010 – 2016. Born in Taiwan, Ms. Chen came to the United States to study violin in 1989 and became the first student in New England Conservatory’s history to receive master’s degrees simultaneously in both violin and conducting, and she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting at the University of Michigan.