MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Seattle Symphony Names Sunny Xuecong Xia as New Assistant Conductor

Sunny Xia conducting the Arizona State University Studio Orchestra in the Andante cantabile from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony 5

This morning Seattle Symphony announced that Sunny Xuecong Xia has been named the Douglas F. King Assistant Conductor. She will begin her appointment in September 2022. Meanwhile, the search for a new music director since the sudden departure early this year of Thomas Dausgaard is underway. Lee Mills will continue to serve as Associate Conductor through the current 2021-2022 season, until Xia succeeds him at the start of the 2022-23 season.

Currently, Xia is Assistant Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra and Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra. The selection process for the SSO position involved a working rehearsal session with SSO musicians as well as an interview with a panel comprising musicians, board, and staff. Xia is also pursuing a doctorate in Orchestral and Opera Conducting at Arizona State University.

Here’s the full bio from Xia’s website:

Recognized for her innate musicality, compelling presence, and technical precision, conductor Sunny Xuecong Xia’s ability to forge an immediate and captivating connection with orchestras and audiences alike has led to engagements around the country. Sunny currently serves as Assistant Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra and Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra while pursuing a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting under Dr. Jeffery Meyer. In the 2021-22 season, she was invited to lead a production of La bohème with the Chandler Opera Company and serve as cover conductor for Arizona Musicfest. She recently appeared with double bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Eunice Kim in a performance of Foley’s poignant For Justice and Peace at Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center. In the 2020-21 season, she appeared as guest conductor with the MusicaNova Orchestra and was invited to serve as Assistant Conductor at the National Music Festival and Pierre Monteux Music Festival. In January 2020, she made her successful debut with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. 

Highlights of the 2019-20 season include being selected by Marin Alsop as a Conducting Fellow in the Peabody Conducting Workshop. She was also appointed Apprentice Conductor at the North American New Opera Workshop (NANOWorks) and served as Cover Conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Firelands Symphony Orchestra. Chosen from a pool of 75 first-round competitors, she was one of ten semifinalists in the NRTA Conducting Competition in Tirana, Albania. Additionally, she led the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra in the 2019 Benefit Concert “A Legacy in Bloom: Celebrating Clara T. Rankin” with violinist Caroline Goulding.

As Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater from 2017 to 2020, Sunny assisted Maestro Harry Davidson in productions of Die ZauberflöteThe Juniper TreeLe Rossignol, and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. A dynamic advocate for contemporary music, she has led the CIM New Music Ensemble in music series such as the Cleveland NEOSonicFest and CIM New Music Series. She also served as a Conducting Fellow in the 2020 Cortona Sessions for New Music Conductor and Advocate Virtual Summit. Dedicated to bringing music to unconventional and diverse locations, while in Cleveland, Sunny organized and led concerts in retirement communities and elementary schools, including an interactive presentation of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in East Cleveland for an audience of 4th and 5th graders. 

Sunny holds a dual master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting and Violin Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied under the tutelage of Carl Topilow and Jan Mark Sloman. She has had the privilege to be mentored by a number of prominent conductors, including Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falleta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Tito Muñoz, Ludovic Morlot, Larry Rachleff, Robert Spano, Carl St.Clair, and Thomas Wilkins. For two summers, she attended the Monteux School and Music Festival as a Kurt & Torj Wray Conducting Scholar. An accomplished violinist, prior to becoming a conductor, Sunny performed as a soloist with orchestras in China and Australia, including the symphony orchestras of Harbin, Zheijiang, Hunan and Guangxi, and the Concertante Ensemble. While attending Cleveland Institute of music, she served as concertmaster of the CIM Orchestra. 

Originally from Guangzhou, China, Sunny relocated to Sydney, Australia at the age of 14 on a sponsorship from the Australian String Academy that allowed her to further her violin studies with Peter Shi-xiang Zhang and Charmian Gadd. A talented basketball athlete, she competed in the semi-professional New South Wales Metro Junior League before focusing primarily on her musical pursuits. When not performing or enjoying a pick-up game, Sunny can be found reading, kayaking, or learning languages. She speaks Cantonese, English, German, Mandarin and Teochew, and is improving her French and Italian.

Filed under: music news, Seattle Symphony


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