Press

Terry McQuilkin - The Register Guard (Eugene) - (October 1, 2017)

"A certain amount of buzz always accompanies the appointment of a new symphony conductor, but, the level of enthusiasm for the Eugene Symphony’s new music director has been — in my observation — especially high. It’s clear that our Francesco Lecce-Chong’s evident personal warmth and his supercharged conducting style have helped feed that excitement. Local listeners already have had a couple of chances to watch him in action — at the orchestra’s concert in the park in July and at Sept. 19 concert with Renée Fleming. On Thursday, at the opening concert of the orchestra’s subscription series, Hult Center listeners seemed just as enthused about the 30-year-old conductor."

Tom Manoff - Oregon Artswatch - (March 21, 2017)

"In 15 years observing the orchestra, I’ve never heard the ESO perform with a true Viennese phrasing, melody somehow joyous and bittersweet, leaning here and there on melodic motives and chromatic lines. But on this night, Lecce-Chong brought Vienna to Eugene. Conducting from memory, he led his musicians with apparent ease, shaping lines, balancing timbres and cuing entrances with precision. There were lovely Viennese moments when he expanded a phrase’s rhythm, then pulled it back in. This was the conductor’s real interpretation of the work, not merely a reading from an orchestra he had just met… Lecce-Chong has the real gift. He’s going to be a fast-rising talent in the music world."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (April 22, 2016)

"Conducting without a score, Lecce-Chong led a beautifully shaped performance of the single-movement piece. From the warm sounds of the middle and low strings with which the piece opens, he and the orchestra found the musical core of the piece's many moods, moving easily through its frequent transitions."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (Dec 17, 2015)

"Lecce-Chong, who stood at a harpsichord and played continuo lines as he conducted, gave a take-no-prisoners performance. His tempos were brisk, supported by thoughtful use of dynamics, beautifully crafted and nuanced phrases, and a fine balance among instrumentalists, chorus and soloists. Often segueing from one movement to the next without pause, he took a moment or two of silence only a few times during the performance. This translated not as a rushed, relentless or flippant performance, but as a committed, urgent, dramatic rendering of the piece."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (Oct 17, 2014)

"The second half of the program was devoted to what proved to be a glowing performance of the Tchaikovsky symphony. Lecce-Chong, who conducted without a score, and the players brought a huge palette of colors; exquisite phrasing; sensitive, disciplined use of vibrato; and tremendous energy to the performance. Throughout the first movement, the orchestra delivered long, elegant phrases and gave constant attention to gradual changes in dynamics and textures. The second movement formed a graceful arc, from whispered opening to some stirring playing before returning to its opening sounds and tempo. A lovely, lilting rendition of the third movement gave way, with just a tiny pause, to a big, broad take on the fourth movement. Clean string sounds, fluid combined wind sounds, unapologetically bold brassy passages and some heart-on-the-sleeve musical abandon brought the audience to its feet at the piece's end."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (May 24, 2014)

"The concert's second half was filled by the artfully constructed Cherubini "Requiem in C minor." Lecce-Chong led the singers and players through a decisive, cohesive performance of the piece that drew significant power from its use of dynamic contrasts as well as shifts and contrasts in choral and orchestral color, moving from feathery vocal lines and transparent orchestral sounds to glorious, soaring, forte passages for full ensemble."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (February 1, 2014)

"The three composers, who were trained within a relatively small window of time at the Curtis Institute of Music, wrote with distinct and disparate voices. Their music — programmed for a single concert and conducted by another Curtis alum, MSO associate conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong — was a fascinating look at the variety of style in American orchestral music of the 20th century."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (November 2, 2013)

"The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and associate music director Francesco Lecce-Chong moved their proverbial tent to the Cathedral of St. John on Friday evening and worked the room beautifully with a program of Pärt, Bach and Bruckner that was perfectly tailored to the acoustics and ambience of the space."

Elaine Schmidt - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - (May 3, 2013)

"Reveling in "Till's" rich orchestrations and expansive melodies, Lecce-Chong and the orchestra gave a thoroughly engrossing performance that was built of thoughtful, wonderfully communicative ensemble work across the orchestra... The MSO and Lecce-Chong, who conducted all but the concerto from memory, opened the program's second half with music from Mozart's "Idomeneo," bringing thoughtful music-making and tight ensemble work to the piece, along with a strong sense of drama. The "Rosenkavalier" suite that wrapped up the program was a festival of gorgeous melodies and spectacular orchestrations given a beautiful performance. Lecce-Chong and the orchestra gave a captivating performance of the piece, from the lilting waltz sections to the piece's most delicate, transparent moments. They used broad dynamic contrasts and liberally applied rubati and accelerandi for emphasis and direction, making transitions feel effortless."

Tom Strini - Third Coast Digest - (May 3, 2013)

"Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong introduced violinist Augustin Hadelich as “one of the greatest violinists of my generation” at Friday’s Milwaukee Symphony concert. The 20-something Hadelich proved him right, with a completely engrossing rendition of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. Hadelich didn’t have the chance to return the compliment, and Lecce-Chong of course wouldn’t say such a thing about himself. The MSO’s 20-something assistant conductor didn’t have to – he had just made a strong case with a remarkable reading of R. Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. Lecce-Chong, conducting from memory and supremely confident, led an acutely alert and responsive orchestra through Strauss’ mercurial 15-minute tone poem. Lecce-Chong attended to every strand in Strauss’ densely woven texture, and his players rewarded him by investing all of them with vivid character. This Till Eulenspiegel burst with energy on the large scale and beguiled with subtlety on the small scale.

The same applied to a suite (Opus 59c) from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Like the tone poem, the opera suite is virtuoso orchestra music that showed off the MSO’s dazzling skill. This is glamorous music, and Lecce-Chong celebrated that glamour with extravagant dynamics and phrases that burst into bloom. Glamour is part of the suite and the opera upon which it is based. The other part is a sweet nostalgia, of acknowledgement of the passage of time and of life. Lecce-Chong understood that aspect of the music, too. He lingered and lingered and allowed the energy of the Ochs Waltzes to gather ever so slowly, as if the aging Baron were building up strength for an autumnal run at both the Viennese waltz and the young ladies."