MSOC welcomes new orchestra conductor Cheung Chau

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
October 27, 2011

The Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will open its 52nd season Saturday, Nov. 19 (rescheduled from Oct. 29), with a concert under the baton of new Music Director Cheung Chau.

“Everyone’s really excited about this show,” said MSOC President Pete Bradley. “Cheung is a really exciting conductor to watch, and he’s brought amazing energy to the group.”

Chau’s path to the podium began with his father, who was a cellist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Chau began playing at the age of 7, and by the age of 12 he had won the first of several prestigious awards and scholarships to study cello. It was only after a hand injury temporarily interrupted his cello career that he took up conducting. He earned the first double doctorate in the history of the New England Conservatory in Boston, in conducting and cello.

Chau has conducted orchestras in the U.S., Poland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Russia, and China, and is currently director of orchestra in residence at the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the Atma Trio, an ensemble that includes his wife, violinist Blanka Bednarz.

Chau said he has embraced his dual roles as performer and conductor.

Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau

“Nowadays I enjoy doing both,” he said. “They complement and help each other.”

For the MSOC, finding a replacement for the previous conductor, Lewis J. Buckley, was a challenge.

“Lew came to us after 30 years leading the Coast Guard band and he really moved the group forward, so we knew we had big shoes to fill,” said Bradley.

More than 30 candidates were evaluated, and Chau soon distinguished himself. “Members of our search committee came back from one of his performances and said, ‘You’ve got to see this guy,'” said Bradley.

Violinist Jody Danielson was among the many who voiced support for Chau’s selection.

“He has shown great enthusiasm for this opportunity and is an excellent communicator and musician,” said Danielson.

Chau and the orchestra have been rehearsing for the first concert since the end of the summer. The major work on the program is Beethoven’s “Eighth Symphony.”

The concert also includes selections from Bizet’s opera “Carmen” and the overture to the musical “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein.

While the program was chosen before Chau’s arrival, he has easily taken it in stride.

“I have conducted the Beethoven and Bizet in the past, but Bernstein I have done on many occasions,” he said. “All the works in the program are wonderful music, very different, at the same time very accessible, and I think familiar to the public as well.”

The program also includes the prelude to Wagner’s opera “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” The opera is set in a city with a rich
musical tradition and tells the of a talented newcomer who succeeds in winning the appreciation of the musicians and, ultimately, the entire town.

Saturday’s performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the SBM Foundation Auditorium at Manchester Community College.

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Admission is $18, $15 for seniors and students, and free for those under 18.

For more information, call 860-646-0047, e-mail MusicSix [at], or visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra Chorale Facebook page or the website: