December 31, 2022, and January 1, 2023, Taiwanese American conductor Mei-Ann Chen will step in to replace conductor Marin Alsop (who is under doctor's orders not to travel as she recovers from the flu) in the Minnesota Orchestra's New Year's Eve concerts. She will lead the orchestra in a dynamic program of gorgeous melodies and rich colors beginning with Bernstein's lively Overture to Candide, followed by the Minnesota premiere of Jessie Montgomery's Rounds for Piano and Orchestra, written for and performed by pianist Awadagin Pratt. Rimsky-Korsakov's adventurous Scheherazade closes the concert. These performances mark Maestra Chen's debut with Minnesota Orchestra.
"...the music, while of varying qualities, had such an extravagance of inspiration, such pitch perfect artistry (led by the great Mei Ann Chen), and such imagination, that one wanted to yell out, “Stop! Let’s hear this again! Let’s catch our breath.”
New Sounds alert for ACO concert at Carnegie tomorrow night!
Dedicated to achieving gender equality in the music industry, the Donne Foundation creates impact through education and inspiration, and projects such as Donne, Women in Music. The Foundation's latest research "Equality & Diversity in Global Repertoire," on repertoire presented by 111 select orchestras from 31 countries during the 2021-22 season found that of those organizations, Chicago Sinfonietta was "the only orchestra to achieve 50/50 gender equality with an amazing diversity of composers as well."
As a result of the findings, Donne has selected Chicago Sinfonietta as the first recipient of its first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Champions Award.
Music director Mei-Ann Chen and the Sinfonietta landed one of their most sensitive supporting performances in recent memory in Sierra’s concerto.
But there were further heights still to come, like Chen and Sinfonietta’s crisp, striding account of Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” Chen, who tends to fire on all cylinders early on and stay there in extroverted rep, reined in the majestic final movement so the orchestra didn’t fully crest until the piece’s end. The payoff was sublime, as were inner-movement solos by principal clarinetist Leslie Grimm and English hornist June Matayoshi.
"Youthful enthusiasm apart, much of the concert’s success and appeal was due to Chen’s magnetic presence on the podium as much as the programming. The three works—Jessie Montgomery’s Soul Force, George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances—provided ample opportunity for entire sections to shine and soloists to strut their stuff. It was not only a laudable educational project, but highly enjoyable and a lot of fun."
The Northwest Sinfonietta (Tacoma, Washington) today announced the appointment of conductors Mei-Ann Chen and Jeffery Meyer as the two newest artistic partners of the orchestra beginning with the 2022-2023 season. They join award-winning Israeli conductor Yaniv Attar, who has been an artistic partner with the ensemble since 2018.
Northwest Sinfonietta board president Natalie Mayer stated, “I’m very excited about our artistic partnerships with Mei-Ann, Jeff and Yaniv. I can’t wait to see what these diverse conductors bring to our organization and audiences."
Concertmaster Denise Dillenbeck said, “Mei-Ann Chen’s work with us in the spring highlighted her incredible leadership, collaborative and exciting style, and skill with all kinds of music, from Mozart to modern day."
"Meeting Northwest Sinfonietta was literally love at first sight - making music with these wonderful musicians feels so familiar and inspiring, as if I have known them a long time! said Ms. Chen. "It is a unique honor to collaborate with fellow conductors Jeffery Meyer and Yaniv Attar as artistic partners, and to be part of a highly creative team that is driven to explore possibilities and innovations! I am excited to see the interesting collaborations and rewarding musical results of this special partnership!"
"The label [Cedille] has had a commitment not only to boosting local artists and musicians but artists and musicians of color. One Cedille regular has been the Chicago Sinfonietta, which is the most diverse orchestra in the United States."
"Most of this year’s planned tributes to Beethoven’s 250th birthday have been canceled due to the pandemic, so one welcomed the Sinfonietta’s contribution, which proved characteristically unorthodox. Rather than offer something wholly familiar, Chen led the Sinfonietta strings in Jeffrey L. Briggs' arrangement of two movements from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 13, “Pathetique.” This may have seemed like a bit of a stunt, in that this music is so inherently pianistic. But there were new pleasures to be drawn from this arrangement. In the adagio cantabile second movement (mistakenly identified onscreen as the third movement), Chen conjured considerable tenderness and introspection. And in the last movement, the conductor took a slower tempo than pianists usually do, giving the music a degree of grandeur it rarely receives.
The concert opened with Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and included Valerie Coleman’s arrangement of the South African National Anthem. Both works proved the value of elegantly stated populism and underscored the Sinfonietta’s message of optimism in the face of global adversity."