Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chicago Sinfonietta extends Music Director Mei-Ann Chen's contract by two years

Mei-Ann Chen, Music Director

Chicago Sinfonietta SCORES TWO Additional SEASONS WITH
CHICAGO (May 18, 2016)—Chicago Sinfonietta, the nation’s most diverse orchestra dedicated to pushing artistic boundaries, is proud to announce Music Director Mei-Ann Chen will continue leading the orchestra through its 2018-2019 Season, adding two years to her current contract and insuring her place on the podium for the upcoming 30th Anniversary season, 2017-2018. Chen will continue to conduct four out of five subscription concerts each season, as well as special added concerts. Recently named among Music America’s 2015 Top 30 Influencers, she has served as Music Director of Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011.

Chen’s charismatic podium presence and innovative programs have resulted in growing audiences and ticket sales for Sinfonietta, more than doubling single ticket revenue since 2012 and increasing subscriptions by 13% in the last 4 years, even at a time when nationally most orchestras are experiencing a steady decline in subscription revenue. The first woman to win the prestigious Malko Competition in 2005, Chen has become one of America's most dynamic and popular conductors. She is a sought after guest conductor at orchestras around the world and will soon begin work with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. During her time as Music Director with Chicago Sinfonietta, she has received an ASCAP award for innovative programming and the Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras.
“We are delighted to announce the extension of Mei-Ann Chen’s contract through the end of the 2018-2019 Season,” said Maurice Smith, President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and CS Board Chair. “Mei-Ann has thrilled our audiences since her first season in 2011-2012 and has helped raise the profile of the Chicago Sinfonietta locally and nationally.  Her commitment to our mission of diversity and inclusion is exemplified by her groundbreaking work on our Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellowship program and through her personal support of diverse musicians, soloists, and composers.  Our recent successes are attributable in large part to Mei-Ann’s brilliant conducting and programming along with the great work of our musicians, staff, board, and volunteers.  We look forward to working with Mei-Ann as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the orchestra in 2017-2018 and beyond.”
Some of Chen’s most celebrated concert moments include:
·         A mock “battle of the bands” with Chicago-based punk marching band, Mucca Pazza
·         A re-imagining of Swan Lake with the internationally renowned hip-hop dance troupe FootworKINGZ
·         The U.S. premiere of Jacob TV’s Martin Luther King video mash-up, Mountaintop
·         An epic do-it-yourself audience play-along featuring 1,500 audience members joining the orchestra during the Malambo movement from Ginastera’s Estancia Dances
"At the age of 10 I dreamed of becoming a symphonic conductor. I wanted to connect to as many musicians as possible, and be part of an instrument so incredible and powerful as an orchestra,” stated Chen. “Never had I imagined that my career path would one day lead me to such a unique organization like the Chicago Sinfonietta and its meaningful mission—to champion diversity and work for inclusion through innovative symphonic programming and the universal language of music. It is an honor to be a part of this organization.
I can't think of a more ideal city than Chicago to expand on Maestro Freeman's pioneering legacy of promoting musicians of diverse background, especially with the new addition of the Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellowship. Chicago has such a rich cultural heritage, and boasts some of the best musical talents in the world. Through the dedication of our family of terrific musicians, committed board members, hard-working staff, and an enthusiastic audience that is growing by the season, the Chicago Sinfonietta will further secure its unique place locally and nationally as a leader in diversity for the symphonic world and a jewel among the art scene in Chicago.”
The Chicago Sinfonietta was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award recognizes nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. Chicago Sinfonietta will use its $625,000 MacArthur Award to establish an operating reserve and to underwrite critical technology upgrades.

About the Sinfonietta
Entering its 29th season, Chicago Sinfonietta has pushed artistic boundaries to provide an alternative way of hearing, seeing and thinking about a symphony orchestra and is dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusion, racial and cultural equity in the arts. Each concert experience blends inventive new works with classical masterworks, each from a diverse array of voices, to entertain, transform and inspire. In 2016, Chicago Sinfonietta was the proud recipient of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI). This award recognizes exceptional organizations that are key contributors in their fields. Learn more at
About Mei-Ann Chen
Innovation, passionate and dynamism are the hallmarks of conductor Mei-Ann Chen.
Recently named Artistic Director and Conductor for the 2016 National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival, and one of Music America’s 2015 Top 30 Influencers, she has served as Music Director of Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, and of the Memphis Symphony (2010 – 2016) infusing both orchestras with energy, enthusiasm and high-level music-making, galvanizing their audiences and communities alike. A sought-after guest conductor, Ms. Chen’s reputation as a compelling communicator has resulted in growing popularity with orchestras both nationally and internationally. Distinguished orchestras and opera companies with whom she has guested internationally include Sweden’s Gothenburg Symphony and Norrlands Opera, the BBC Scottish Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Austria’s Grosses Orchester Graz, and Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony and Minas Gerais Philharmonic, Denmark's Danish National Symphony and other principal orchestras, Germany’s Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, Finland’s Tampere Philharmonic the Netherlands Philharmonic, Norway’s Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Trondheim Symphony, and Taiwan’s National Symphony. North American guest engagements include the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Colorado, Detroit, Fort Worth, Houston, Nashville, Oregon, Pacific, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among others.
For more information on Chicago Sinfonietta, please visit 

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