Symphony names new assistant conductor

Duo Shen. Courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony

Grand Rapids Symphony has a new assistant conductor.

The symphony named Duo Shen assistant conductor and conductor of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, effective July 25.

“We are happy to welcome Duo Shen to our symphony family,” said Marcelo Lehninger, music director for the Grand Rapids Symphony. “He has a good conducting technique, musical insight and great personality. During the audition process, it was evident that he has a nice chemistry with the orchestra, and I’m looking forward to working with him.” 

A Beijing-born violinist and conductor, Shen holds a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also obtained a professional studies diploma in orchestra conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

He was hired as staff conductor at CIM immediately upon graduation and served as rehearsal conductor, assistant conductor and cover conductor. 

As a chamber musician, Shen founded and toured throughout China with the Beijing-based piano trio Tongyan.

Shen has collaborated with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra, University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra, New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria) and Pazardjik Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria).

He also worked professionally with well-known conductors such as Lehninger, JoAnn Falletta, Carlos Kalmar and Vinay Parameswaran in an assistant capacity.

“I am absolutely honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the amazing musicians and administrative team of the Grand Rapids Symphony,” Shen said. “I am also excited to have the opportunity to lead the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra to help shape the future of classical music. I look forward to working and living in such a vibrant city while serving its wonderful people and the community.”

Following the retirement of longtime associate conductor John Varineau in May 2021, a search committee formed to find a candidate for replacement. Four conductors were selected to come to Grand Rapids for an interview and audition process in May before Shen was chosen.

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