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 the first-ever Principal Guest Conductor of Austria’s Recreation Grosses Orchester Graz and the first-ever Artistic Partner of Houston’s River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), both effective September 2019. She 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 highlights for 2020 – 2021 season include debut at Vienna's Musikverein with Tonkünstler Orchester and opening the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra’s season at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, debuts with Würth Philharmonic in Germany and Helsinki Philharmonic in Finland, as well as return engagements to San Francisco Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic in Norway, Norrlandsoperan in Sweden, Taiwan Philharmonic, and serving on the jury for the prestigious Malko Competition for Young Conductors in 2021. Debuts with New York Philharmonic & Carnegie Hall’s NYO2, Basque National Orchestra in Spain, and Staatsorchester Darmstadt in Germany have been postponed due to COVID cancellations during the spring of 2020.
Recent guesting highlights include England’s BBC Symphony in London, Finland’s Tampere Filharmonia, Germany’s NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover, Netherland’s Residentie Orkest at The Hague, Sweden’s Gävle & 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, and Pacific.
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 Radio and Trondheim; Sweden’s Gothenburg, Malmö and Norrköping; Switzerland’s Basel; and Turkey’s Bilkent.
As Music Director of Chicago Sinfonietta, Ms. Chen has made two recordings for Cedille Records: "Project W - Works by Diverse Women Composers" (March 2019) and "Delights and Dances" (June 2013). In 2018, Innova Records released River Oaks Chamber Orchestra's debut album "ROCO: Visions Take Flight” 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.