Gene Chang is a Korean American conductor of symphonic, opera, and chamber music. His performance experience embraces an extensive span of repertoire from Bach to Ellington, Mozart to Adams, and Stravinsky to Mancini. Honored twice by the Solti Foundation US, Gene was named a Florentine Opera Resident for 2017 and awarded the coveted Career Assistance Grant in 2016. Gene served as Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) from 2015 to 2019.
Gene’s growing schedule as a guest conductor includes performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Savannah Philharmonic, the Malaysian Philharmonic, and the Seoul Philharmonic. He made his podium debut with the Cincinnati Opera in July 2019 leading the Cincinnati premiere of the critically acclaimed opera As One.
Shortly after the conclusion of his tenure at CSO, Gene was asked to step in for CSO Music Director Louis Langrée on two days’ notice for the inaugural concert of the Symphony’s 125th season. The program included a newly commissioned world premiere of “Look Around” by Shara Nova. The composer describes the work “kind of like the Olympics, kind of like a half-time show, part history lesson, part glimpse towards the future.” It demands coordination of nearly 30 different ensembles and several narrators with the orchestra, conducting to a stopwatch as well as by earpiece and hot spot, and incorporates genres from classical to rap. Gene’s ability to bring together all the moving parts with precision and artistry attests to his solid musicianship and leadership, as well as his skill in commanding even the most complex projects.
Gene’s mastery and enjoyment of diverse repertoire are evident. He takes great care in developing programs that feature a breadth of traditional and new works that shed light on contemporary issues, allow for thoughtful reflection, and provide pure musical delight for an audience. He especially appreciates each opportunity to conduct works by Mozart, allowing him to draw on his extensive studies of 18th-century performance practice that includes several years of study with the revered musicologist Wye Allanbrook.
Gene is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he was a student of Alan Gilbert and James Ross, and a recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship. He has also studied with Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, and Kurt Masur. In 2013 he was one of only four finalists at the International Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Competition. An accomplished clarinetist and new music devotee, Gene was a regular performer with the Eco Ensemble based in Northern California. Following early studies on the clarinet and piano, Gene attended the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate, where he studied conducting with David Milnes.
Solti Foundation US Honoree