Mei-Ann Chen Makes History With New Position at Grosses Orchester Graz

By David Salazar

Mei-Ann Chen has been announced as principal conductor of recreation of the Grosses Orchester Graz at Styriarte, beginning this fall.

The Taiwanese American will become the first female Asian conductor to serve as chief conductor of the ensemble. She is also among the first female Asian conductors to hold a major position with an Austrian orchestra.

Chen was signed on to be the organization’s first-ever principal guest conductor just two years ago.

“Appointing one of the first Asian woman conductors in Austria to the post of chief conductor is just another example of this 21st century orchestra’s leadership in the field. I am deeply grateful for the trust that Mathis Huber and his incredible team at Styriarte have placed in me,” said Chen in a press release. “Every return to Graz during the past decade has always been a highlight in my guesting schedule and working with the Styriarte team feels more like being in a musical family over time. With its diverse pool of musicians of 20 plus nationalities and such a friendly atmosphere, it was literally ‘love at first sight!’ since 2011.

Chen has made a tremendous amount of history throughout her career. Among her major feats was becoming the first female music director and conductor laureate of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra; she was also the first woman (and still the only woman) to win First Prize at the Malko Competition.