Chief Guest Conductor of Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra
Kaohsiung-born Conductor Christopher Chen, a distinguished Thousand Talents Plan of China awardee, earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestra Conducting from Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University in the US. His extensive conducting career, which began with winning the Karajan Fellowship Prize, has taken him to major orchestras in Europe, the US, Australia, Russia and Asia. When not conducting, Dr Chen is Director, Centre for Innovation in Music Research, Production and Performance, Communication University of Zhejiang, Vice Director, Culture and Arts Committee of “The Thousand Talents Plan” of China, and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Festival at Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts.
As Artistic Director of the Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts, Dr Chen masterminded one of the most impressive theatre launches in China history, introducing to Nanjing such distinguished artists and ensembles as Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Andris Nelsons, Anna Netrebko (in her Chinese debut), the Vienna Philharmonic, the China National Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. Since then, Chen has invited such distinguished guests as the Philharmonia Orchestra London, the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Alexander Sladkovsky, Krystian Zimerman, Leonidas Kavakos and Alexander Toradze among many others. In 2018 he introduced the yearly Mariinsky Festival to Nanjing.
In 2002, Chen was Assistant Conductor at the Baltimore Opera and later at the Finnish National Opera. From 2007 to 2011 he was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Jiangsu Symphony Orchestra, professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Artistic Director of the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre. In 2013 he became Dean of the Academy of Music, Suzhou University of Technology, and led the Baroque Camerata Orchestra in Taiwan and the Tapiola Youth Symphony Orchestra in Finland. He has worked with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Athens State Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, NTSO Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra in Fukuoka, Japan, and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in the US. In 2018 Chen was invited to conduct the festival performance in South Africa at the BRICS Summit, representing both Russia and China. In 2019 he made his debut with the Svetlanov State Academic Symphony Orchestra Moscow and the Mariinsky Orchestra St Petersburg, both featuring Denis Matsuev as soloist. In 2020 he returned to St Petersburg to conduct Puccini’s Turandot at the Mariinsky Theatre. Most recently he was invited to serve on the jury of the inaugural Rachmaninov Conducting Competition, held in Moscow in June 2022.
Primarily resident in China, Chen divides his extremely busy schedule between homes in China, Finland and Australia.