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Mei-Ann Chen Joins the SSO As Artistic Advisor

By March 20, 2024No Comments
Mei-Ann Chen on the podium

We are thrilled to announce a spectacular addition to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra as renowned conductor Mei-Ann Chen takes on the role of Artistic Advisor upon the start of our 2024-25 season. This exciting appointment comes as the SSO celebrates its 80th anniversary and charts a course for continued innovation under the leadership of President and CEO Paul Lambert.

In her new position, Maestra Chen will serve as the artistic face of the orchestra, taking charge of program curation, guest soloist selection, and other artistic endeavors. Additionally, she will conduct at least two symphonic concerts per season, bringing her unique expertise and passionate energy to the stage.

Maestra Chen shares her excitement with us over taking on this new role as a member of the SSO family:

Your debut with the SSO last fall received high praise. Could you share some highlights from that experience and how it influenced your decision to take on this new position?

The debut with the Spring Symphony Orchestra was one of the most memorable season highlights for me! I felt an immediate and special connection to the wonderful musicians as if we already knew each other; and I was deeply impressed by the extraordinary leadership shown by President and CEO, Paul Lambert, and Board Chair, Paul Friedmann. I loved the friendliness of folks I met in the community and will forever treasure the unexpected reunion with my first conducting teacher Frank Battisti, who has been such a pioneer in the Wind Ensemble world. Returning to the SSO as an Artistic Advisor is truly a dream come true in many ways.

What excites you most about your new role as Artistic Advisor?

I am most excited to share interesting ideas I have explored over the years championing for innovative programming – both contemporary and masterworks; to continue the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s long history of championing for diversity and inclusion, a mission that has been a major part of my career through my works with the Chicago Sinfonietta; to build upon the wonderful legacy the Springfield Symphony Orchestra has achieved in 80 years and to introduce new ways to appreciate music and creativity to this beautiful community.

What do you hope audiences will take away from SSO performances under your direction, and what kind of experience do you aim to create for them?

My goal is for the performances to take the audience on meaningful journeys through sounds, to have them hear and see stories told through incredible sonic experiences. Regardless of various expectations of what a classical symphonic concert would provide, I hope the music-making can transport and uplift listeners through the unique communal experiences only possible with live music performances!

Creating memorable moments through sounds was what drew me to want to become a classical musician in the first place,
and I hope to always try to recreate magical moments when music touches our hearts and gives us the emotional depth only possible through the universal language of music!

In your opinion, what are some of the most significant challenges facing orchestras today, and how do you plan to address them in your role at the SSO?

Demonstrating our relevance to everyday life. Bringing in new audiences, maintaining current audiences,
and having what takes place onstage reflect the community and the everyday world, while still being entertaining, moving and unforgettable. We do this via innovative community engagement programs, creative programming, and unique collaborations on stage!