A prizewinner of the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition, Tong Chen has become one of her generation’s most promising and exciting young conductors. In the 2023-24 season, she will make her conducting debut with the Minnesota Orchestra. Recent season highlights include concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and Rochester Philharmonic.
Chen was a proud participant in the 2022 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. From 2021 to 2023, she served as the assistant conductor of the New Jersey Symphony, working closely with music director Xian Zhang and sharing podiums with her on many occasions. She made her subscription concerts debut with them in 2021 and conducted the world premiere of Fantasia on Sae Taryeong at their Lunar New Year concert in 2023. During her tenure, she brought many education concerts to young people throughout the state of New Jersey.
Chen has worked with numerous orchestras across the globe, including the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, Mikkelin Kaupunginorkesteri in Finland, Besancon Symphony, Leipzig Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Lexington Philharmonic and Richmond Symphony. In 2015, she debuted at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Chen has worked with Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ivan Fischer of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and has been a regular cover conductor for Gianandrea Noseda with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C.
Born in Shanghai, Chen appears regularly with orchestras throughout China, including the Shanghai Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony and Xiamen Philharmonic. She served as assistant conductor for five seasons at the Shanghai Opera House, where she appeared for the first time at age 19.
Founder of the new music project “Now!,” Chen has commissioned and performed new compositions from multiple cultural backgrounds and genres. Recent world premieres include Allen Shawn’s Concerto for Clarinet and Cello, one of the last pieces commissioned by Benny Goodman; Ellis Marsalis’s The Fourth Autumn, arranged by Hannah Yim; Thu Dieu by Viet Cuong, Queenie Pie Suite by Duke Ellington, and the U.S. premiere of Grammy winner Samuel Torres’s conga concerto Regreso.
Deeply committed to education, Chen taught orchestral conducting and led the Copland School of Music orchestral program from 2012 to 2018. She is a regular guest conductor at the Manhattan School of Music and a guest lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
A protégé of the former music director of the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur, Chen was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 2012, allowing her to study Mendelssohn’s music and serve as the assistant conductor for Maestro Masur at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Tong’s primary studies were with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Conservatory, where she received her Master of Arts 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.