Andrés Franco and Francesco Lecce-Chong, who have served as assistant conductors with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since September 2015, will be renewing their contracts and also be promoted to associate conductors.
Franco has agreed to a two-year contract. During the 2016-2017 season he made his subscription concert debut in Timeless Love Songs on the PNC Pops series. In the year ahead, he will conduct the Highmark Holiday Pops concerts in December 2017.
Lecce-Chong has signed a one-year contract as he transitions to his new position as Music Director and Conductor of the Eugene Symphony. He made his subscription concert debut in the 2015-2016 season with The Chieftains, led the 2016 Highmark Holiday Pops and will be conducting the Bernstein Centennial Celebration in the 2017-2018 season. He will also continue in his role as principal conductor for the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.
“We are so pleased to continue our relationship with our two staff conductors, Andrés and Francesco. Both have made a significant impact on the Pittsburgh community during their tenure and we look forward to their next steps both in Pittsburgh and beyond,” said Mary Persin, Vice President of Artistic Planning.
In their roles as associate conductors, both Franco and Lecce-Chong assist Music Director Manfred Honeck and PSO guest conductors, while also leading education, outreach, parks and other concerts throughout the season.
About the Artists
A captivating presence on the podium, American conductor FRANCESCO LECCE-CHONG has garnered acclaim for his dynamic performances, commitment to innovative programming, and passion for community engagement. Mr. Lecce-Chong begins his post as Music Director & Conductor of the Eugene Symphony in the 2017-2018 season, following in the path of renowned predecessors including Marin Alsop and Giancarlo Guerrero. In addition, he currently holds the positions of Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Active as a guest conductor, he has appeared with orchestras around the world including the National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Also trained as a pianist and composer, Mr. Lecce-Chong champions the work of new composers and the need for arts education. As Associate Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) from 2011-2015, he curated and presented the works of both active and lesser-known composers, including two works commissioned by the orchestra, as well as two U.S. premieres. He also helped create the first MSO Composer Institute, providing performance opportunities for young American composers. Mr. Lecce-Chong has complemented his programming with a strong commitment to arts education for all ages. In Milwaukee, he provided artistic leadership for the MSO’s nationally lauded Arts in Community Education program – one of the largest arts integration programs in the country. His dedication to connecting orchestras and communities continues in Pittsburgh where he gives preconcert talks, conducts concerts for school audiences, and leads specially designed sensory-friendly performances.
Mr. Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of sixteen. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music and Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. He has worked with many internationally celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, and Manfred Honeck.
Starting his third season as Music Director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony, ANDRÉS FRANCO continues to delight audiences with his imaginative programming and energetic style. Mr. Franco also serves as Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and continues to appear as guest conductor with orchestras such as the Columbus, Elgin, El Paso, Eugene, Fort Worth, Houston, Mississippi, Springfield, St. Louis and Stockton symphonies; the philharmonic orchestras of Boise and Oklahoma City; and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Outside the U.S., Mr. Franco has conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León/Spain; the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru; in addition to the National Symphony, Bogota Philharmonic, Medellin Philharmonic and EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia. He has also appeared at the Cabrillo, Grant Park, OK Mozart, Oregon Bach, and Texas Music festivals.
A native of Colombia, Mr. Franco is dedicated to preserving and performing the music of the Americas. As principal conductor of Caminos del Inka, he has led many performances of works by Latin American composers, such as Jimmy López, Diego Luzuriaga and the famous Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla.
Andrés Franco formerly served as music director of the Philharmonia of Kansas City, as associate and resident conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and as Leonard Slatkin’s assistant conductor during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Born into a musical family, Mr. Franco began piano studies with his father, Jorge Franco. An accomplished pianist, he studied with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jose Feghali, and attended piano workshops with Rudolph Buchbinder in Switzerland, and Lev Naumov in France. He studied conducting with Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Kurt Masur, Gustav Meier, Helmut Rilling, Gerard Schwarz and Leonard Slatkin.
Andrés Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in piano performance and conducting from Texas Christian University.
He is married to Victoria Luperi, associate principal clarinetist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens.
Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.
HEINZ HALL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.