"Masterfully presented the Mendelssohn's Fifth Symphony," described the Leipzig Times. A prizewinner of the prestigious International Malko Conducting Competition, Tong Chen, current assistant conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, has quickly established herself as one of her generation's most promising and exciting young conductors.
Highlights of the 2021-22 season include subscription week with the New Jersey Symphony orchestra, debut with St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic, and engagements with National Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Chen is a proud participant of the 2020 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, postponed to March 2022.
Tong Chen has worked with numerous orchestras across the globe, including the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo; Mikkelin Kaupunginorkesteri; Besançon Symphony Orchestra; Leipzig Symphony Orchestra; Alabama Symphony Orchestra; Charleston Symphony Orchestra; and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, she made her Lincoln Center debut at David H. Koch Theater with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and Orchestra of St. Luke's. In addition, Tong has worked for Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Ivan Fisher of the Budapest Festival Orchestra as a cover conductor.
Born in Shanghai, China, Ms. Chen is a regular guest conductor with orchestras throughout China. Including the Shanghai Philharmonic, Xia Men Philharmonic, Qing Dao Symphony Orchestra, Guang Zhou Symphony Orchestra, and the Shanghai Opera House, where she worked as the assistant conductor from 2004-2009.
The founder of the new music project, "NOW!", Tong has commissioned and performed new compositions throughout different cultural backgrounds and genres. Recently world premieres include Allen Shawn's Concerto for Clarinet and Cello, one of the last pieces commissioned by Benny Goodman; Ellis Marsalis' "The Fourth Autumn," arranged by Hannah Yim; "Thu Diếu" by Viet Cuong and many works by Jessie Montgomery. This season, Tong teamed with composer Huang Ruo and Manner Opera to work on a new production of Huang's Dr. Sun-Yat Sen.
This season marks Tong Chen’s 7th and last season as the Music Director of the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra. A strong believer that music is an important connection to bring people and the community together, during her first year as the Music Director of YPO she introduced a Beethoven Festival, which sold out five years in a row. Due to the global pandemic in the 2020-2021 season, she created YPO@Home, an online streaming music program to bring music to the community. Ms. Chen also started an online weekly rehearsal and education program for local musicians and music students.
An education advocate, Chen taught orchestral conducting and led the Copland School of Music orchestral program from 2012-2018. She is a regular guest conductor at the Manhattan School of Music and a guest lecturer at Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
A protégé of the former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur, Ms. Chen was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 2012, which allowed her to study the music of Mendelssohn and serve as the assistant conductor for Maestro Masur at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
Tong primary studies were with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Conservatory, where she received her Master's Degree in conducting. In addition, she attended the Aspen Music Festival, where she worked with David Zinman, and the Cabrillo Festival, where she studied with Marin Alsop.