Santa Rosa Symphony music director Francesco Lecce-Chong wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award
Responsibilities with your company: As music director, I serve as the primary conductor for the Santa Rosa Symphony - conducting the orchestra in rehearsals and concerts.
I am responsible for the programming of all the music the orchestra performs including classical, family, community, and education concerts - this includes guest soloists and conductors that we feature during our season.
I also work with personnel-related issues and decisions regarding our 81 musicians in the orchestra. Outside of conducting the orchestra, I provide support and visibility to the Santa Rosa Symphony in the community through public speaking engagements, arts education, marketing events, and donor development.
In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?
In my work and decision-making, I always seek to have a positive impact on the community through innovation, collaboration, and inclusion.
Years with company: 2
Length of time in current position: 2
Number of companywide employees: 100
Number who report to you: 81
Greatest professional accomplishment: First Symphony Project - a joint project between the Santa Rosa Symphony and Eugene Symphony to commission and perform four major new symphonies over the next four years. It is the only project of its kind in the country and the largest commissioning project ever undertaken by either orchestra.
Greatest professional challenge: Changing the misconceptions that 1) classical music is elite, 2) the listener needs to understand the music in order to appreciate it, 3) and everyone is expected to like everything we perform.
The Santa Rosa Symphony and our audience are a single welcoming community of music lovers enthralled by the unparalleled excitement and visceral power of a live orchestra - you only need to come once and you will be caught up in it!
Best advice received: Be willing to trust the work of those around you and delegate - I have gotten a lot of different versions of this advice over the years, but it applies both to the administrative and performance aspects of my position.
I am a perfectionist at heart as a conductor, so it can be difficult to stop trying to control everything around me. Fortunately, I have an amazing team of staff and musicians!
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: I made my conducting debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and the New York Philharmonic last year.
What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?
We believe that the arts are one of the ways we build a stronger community and we are always searching for new ways to bring people together.
Like all orchestras, a majority of our budget comes from the support of generous donors, businesses, and foundations. They help us serve the needs of our community like offering free concerts for schools, a free summer community concert, and we even held a concert to raise funds for fire relief organizations after the 2017 Tubbs fire. As a service organization, we become even more essential in uncertain times as we build for a brighter future.
Next professional goal: I am working on bringing opera to the North Bay with the Santa Rosa Symphony. As it gets more difficult to travel to downtown San Francisco, there are less opportunities to experience this incredible art form in our area. Our hall, the Green Music Center, is perfect for singers and most of my early conducting training was with opera.