PT101: “Polishing the Potential in Young Conductors,” with Mei-Ann Chen

Today we’re talking with Mei-Ann Chen, Music Director of Chicago Sinfonietta, about enhancing your rehearsals with Rehearsal Language, how she led the orchestra to win a MacArthur Award for their Theatrical and Diverse Programming, and how her Project Inclusion Conducting Fellows learn and prepare for a professional conducting career.

This interview was originally recorded for the PT100 Livestream Extravaganza to raise money for the Conducting Fellowship through Chicago Sinfonietta. This is the full interview, including over 30 minutes that were cut from the livestream presentation. Please support Project Inclusion and learn more at

Listen above, or watch the video here:

Mei-Ann Chen on:

  • Chicago Sinfonietta and the Project Inclusion Program (6:15)
  • Who should apply to the Conducting Fellowship and what Mei-Ann is looking for in a conducting applicant (15:50)
  • Rehearsal Language and Auditioning with confidence for a Professional Orchestra (21:12)
  • The most important lessons that Mei-Ann learned from her teachers, including Frank Battisti, Marin Alsop, Donald Runnicles, and Robert Spano (41:17)
  • How Chicago Sinfonietta won a MacArthur Award for their theatrical and diverse programming (49:04)
  • Project W and Mei-Ann’s Hidden Gem composers (55:36)
  • Final Advice (1:08:50)

Check out everything that Chicago Sinfonietta has to offer, including Project Inclusion, their virtual Membership, and their recordings for Project W with Mei-Ann Chen on Spotify.

Connect with us on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram at @PodiumTimePod, and continue the conversation in our Facebook Group, the Podium Time Inner Circle. Want to send us an email? Use the contact page on our website! If you’d like to support the podcast monetarily and get bonus content, consider joining our Patreon community at If you’re in the market for a new baton, use our promo code “PodiumTime” at for 20% off your first order.