Boston Symphony Orchestra appoints Earl Lee as new assistant conductor

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra has appointed Korean-Canadian conductor Earl Lee as the orchestra’s new assistant conductor for a two-year term beginning with the 2021–22 season. He will join the Boston Symphony Orchestra for his first podium appearance as assistant conductor during the 2022 Tanglewood season, followed by subscription concerts at Symphony Hall during the 2022–23 season. He succeeds former Assistant Conductor Yu-An Chang whose term with the BSO ended in 2020. Mr. Lee will be one of two assistant conductors; he joins Anna Rakitina whose tenure continues through 2023.

In addition to leading his own performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Earl Lee will assist BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons and guest conductors in their work preparing the orchestra for performances at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood and on tours, nationally and internationally, as well as for their annual appearances at Carnegie Hall.

Earl Lee is completing his tenure this month with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he has held the position of associate conductor since September 2018. Previously resident conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 2015 to 2018, Mr. Lee has performed for audiences worldwide as both a conductor and accomplished cellist. His conducting engagements have included appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, New Japan Philharmonic, Gangnam Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.

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In all of his professional activities, Mr. Lee seeks ways to connect with fellow musicians and audiences on a personal level. His concerts to date have often been accompanied by outreach events beyond the concert hall in the community at large. He has taken great pleasure in mentoring young musicians as former artistic director and conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as music director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.

“I feel very lucky to become a part of such an exceptional musical ensemble as the BSO,” said Earl Lee. “I am honored and look forward to beginning work with the amazing Maestro Andris Nelsons and all the terrific musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.”

“All of us at the BSO are thrilled to welcome Earl Lee as our new assistant conductor,” said Anthony Fogg, William I. Bernell Artistic Administrator and Director of Tanglewood. “Earl’s impressive background as both conductor and cellist is matched by his commitment and dedication to connecting with fellow musicians and audiences beyond the concert hall. We look forward to his first concerts with the orchestra next summer at Tanglewood and introducing him to Symphony Hall audiences in 2022–23. I’m sure Earl will be a wonderful addition to the BSO family.”

For more information about the BSO, please visit www.bso.org.

EARL LEE, Additional Bio Details

Mr. Lee received the 2021 Solti Foundation U.S Career Assistance Award and, in 2018, the 50th Anniversary Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council. In 2013, he was one of two recipients of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship, chosen by renowned conductor Kurt Masur to study Mendelssohn’s music and life in Leipzig. That same year, Lee was awarded the Ansbacher Fellowship by the American Austrian Foundation and members of the Vienna Philharmonic and spent six weeks at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.

As an accomplished cellist, Mr. Lee toured with the acclaimed duo of Gary Burton and Chick Corea as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet in 2012, performing in notable venues including Boston’s Symphony Hall, Maison symphonique de Montréal, and the Blue Note jazz club in New York City. He has also toured the United States with a variety of ensembles, including Musicians from Marlboro, and is currently a member of the conductorless East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO). For further information about Earl Lee, visit www.earlleeconductor.com.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Program

The BSO’s longest-serving assistant or associate conductors were concertmasters Richard Burgin and Joseph Silverstein. Michael Tilson Thomas earned instant fame when he replaced an ailing William Steinberg (BSO Music Director, 1969–72) mid-concert and, following his BSO tenure, has earned international acclaim for his artistic leadership of the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, and London Symphony Orchestra. Many of the BSO’s former assistant conductors have gone on to careers with major symphony orchestras, including Shi-Yeon Sung—the BSO’s first female assistant conductor—who is formerly the artistic director and chief conductor of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, and Ken-David Masur, who now holds the position of music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

BSO Assistant Conductors

Richard Burgin 1934-1943 (Associate Conductor, 1943-1966)
Charles Wilson 1966-1969
Michael Tilson Thomas 1969-1970 (Associate Conductor, 1970-1972; Principal Guest Conductor, 1972-1974)
Joseph Silverstein 1971-1984
Carl St. Clair 1986-1990
Pascal Verrot 1986-1990
Grant Llewellyn 1990-1993
Robert Spano 1990-1993
Thomas Dausgaard 1993-1995
David Wroe 1993-1995
Richard Westerfield 1995-1997 (Associate Conductor, 1997-1998)
Federico Cortese 1998-2002
Ilan Volkov 1998-2001
Jens Georg Bachman 2004-2007
Ludovic Morlot 2004-2007
Julian Kuerti 2007-2010
Shi-Yeon Sung 2007-2010
Marcelo Lehninger 2010-2013 (Associate Conductor, 2013-2015)
Sean Newhouse 2010-2012
Andris Poga 2012-2014
Ken-David Masur 2014-2018 (Associate Conductor, 2018)
Yu-An Chang 2018-2020
Anna Rakitina 2019-
Earl Lee 2021-

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