Meet Memphian no. 222, Mei-Ann Chen
Meet Memphian no. 222, Mei-Ann Chen, the conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. She was kind enough to take a few minutes to let me interrogate her over the phone about her work, her favorite music, and how many instruments she plays:
Name: Mei-Ann Chen
Occupation: Conductor, Memphis Symphony Orchestra
Hometown: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Neighborhood: Mud Island
My favorite piece of music to conduct is: That’s a tricky question because I have so many. One that has changed my fate is a piece about fate – Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It’s played an important part in my musical journey.
I play: my main instrument is the violin. I also play piano, trumpet, trombone and guitar. I’m sure I can make a simple melody out of just about anything.
My favorite place to eat is: This is a challenge – there are so many good places. I’ll have to say that my favorite place close to my office is Napa Cafe.
The most interesting show I’ve conducted in Memphis was: a concert we did last year that featured a never before performed piece by one of the hottest composers of our time. The piece was Osvaldo Golijov’s “Sidereus”. It was so special for us to be the attention of the musical world. The piece is going to 35 other orchestras and will be performed for the next two years.
My favorite non-classical music is: At any given time, I’m listening to a lot of different things. My favorite group, Pink Martini, interprets classical music in a really smart way. They were my friends when I worked in Portland, and I collaborated with them quite a bit.
I hope that during my time with the MSO: that the orchestra becomes one of the city’s hottest cultural institutions and becomes the best in its class nationally. We’re already getting attention for being one of the most innovative orchestras in the country.
I love Memphis because: it has the best people I’ve ever met. It’s also the place that gave me my first opportunity to live my dream as a professional conductor. I want to make the city a better place with our music.