Chicago Sinfonietta Selects New Music Director

August 4, 2010

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The Chicago Sinfonietta, which bills itself as the nation's most diverse orchestra, has picked a new music director.

Mei-Ann Chen says she knew she wanted to conduct at age 10. She was shy and was amazed a conductor could inspire so much sound with body language.

Chen sees music as a way to communicate and connect.

CHEN: Every time I'm on podium, and I mean every time, including rehearsal, I treat it as it's my privilege to be standing there and create something beautiful for life.

Chen plans more collaborations, like commissioning new works with other orchestras. She also wants to expand a program that mentors young musicians of color.

Sinfonietta Executive Director Jim Hirsch says Chen stood out for her musicality, communication skills and stage presence.

HIRSCH: When the piece is big and bombastic, she practically levitates off the podium.

And when it's quiet, he says, she still communicates with her entire body.

Chen will take over from founder, Paul Freeman, next year.

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