Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong is the Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon and the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing at the Green Music Center in Northern California. The press has described him as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift” and recognized his dynamic performances, fresh programming, deep commitment to commissioning and performing new music as well as to community outreach. Lecce-Chong has appeared with orchestras around the world including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic and collaborated with top soloists including Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman.
Following the paths of renowned Music Directors of the Eugene and the Santa Rosa Symphonies including Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero, and Jeffrey Kahane, Mr. Lecce-Chong has quickly made his mark with the two orchestras introducing a series of new music and community initiatives. During the 2021–22 season, both orchestras will continue the four-year “First Symphony Project” that is commissioning a symphony each year from a young American composer including multiple residencies in the community. The Eugene Symphony will embark on a three-part concert presentation of Wagner’s epic opera Tristan und Isolde and the Santa Rosa Symphony will begin a cycle of the large orchestral works of Rachmaninoff paired with legendary film composers entitled “Rachmaninoff and the Hollywood Sound.” Across both orchestras in just a single season, Lecce-Chong will lead the world premieres of five major orchestral works including an ecology-inspired work by Grammy-winning composer Michael Daugherty, a work for mariachi and orchestra by Enrico Chapela, and a dramatic work with actors based on the life of Olympic athlete Steve Prefontaine by David Schiff.
Lecce-Chong is the recipient of several distinctions, including the prestigious Solti Foundation Award. Trained also as a pianist and composer, he completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller after attending the Mannes College of Music and Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy. He has had the privilege of being mentored and supported by celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, Manfred Honeck, Donald Runnicles, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Louis Schwizgebel has been described as “a genuine virtuoso, a spirited young genius with real depth” (Fono Forum) and an “insightful musician” (The New York Times). He is praised repeatedly for his poise, elegance, imagination, expressive lyricism, and crystalline articulation. He performs regularly in recital and with the finest orchestras across the globe and has received critical acclaim for his recordings.
In recent seasons, highlights have included performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, National du Capitole de Toulouse, Danish National Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Utah Symphony, Nagoya and Shanghai Philharmonic orchestras. Conductors he has worked with include Gardner, Gražynite-Tyla, Krivine, Collon, Fischer, Dutoit, Luisi, Shani, Ticciati, Langrée, Wilson, Gaffigan, Rouvali and Gabel amongst others.
Schwizgebel’s 2021–22 season includes debuts with the Oslo Philharmonic (Gershwin Piano Concerto under Vassily Petrenko), Orchestre National de Metz (Saint-Saëns No. 2 under David Reiland) and Royal Northern Sinfonia in Europe, with Richmond Symphony and Sacramento Philharmonic in the US and with Singapore Symphony in Asia. He will return to the Royal Scottish National Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra (performing their 2022 New Years Concert), Utah Symphony and perform Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 at the closing concert of Septembre Musical de Montreux-Vevey together with the Lucerne Symphony under the baton of Michael Sanderling.
Schwizgebel was born in 1987 in Geneva. He studied with Brigitte Meyer in Lausanne and Pascal Devoyon in Berlin, and then later at The Juilliard School with Emanuel Ax and Robert McDonald, and at London’s Royal Academy of Music with Pascal Nemirovski. At the age of 17, he won the Geneva International Music Competition and, two years later, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. In 2012 he won second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition and in 2013 he became a BBC New Generation Artist.