Like most orchestra conductors, Francesco Lecce-Chong uses a baton. But it’s not your typical wooden stick: it lights up in electric blue.
Lecce-Chong, Mannes ’09, loves Star Wars and the music of John Williams, and he shows his fandom by conducting the Eugene Symphony Orchestra with a baton modeled after a Jedi light saber.
Lecce-Chong recently joined the Eugene Symphony Orchestra as conductor and music director after working with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, among others.
“Being a conductor brings together two of my passions: collaborating with musicians and bringing together a community through music,” says Lecce-Chong. “One of the most beneficial aspects of Mannes is its small size, which meant I received lots of personal attention from teachers and there was not a single class where I was not pushed to the limit of my abilities.”
Lecce-Chong follows in the footsteps of many influential composers who have worked with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, including Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. In true New School fashion, he works with interdisciplinary groups to bring new experiences to the audiences and orchestra.
“Over my time in Eugene,” he says, “I hope to expand our offerings to families, introduce audiences to a new generation of young, exciting composers, and partner with multi-disciplinary arts organizations in the city.”