Francesco Lecce-Chong takes the podium for his first concerts as Santa Rosa Symphony‘s new Music Director this Saturday through Monday. The 31-year-old is only the fifth conductor to occupy that post in the 90 years of the orchestra’s history. In April, after the announcement was made, an audience at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall at Sonoma State University had a chance to begin to get to know him.

There’s more information about the upcoming concerts at the Santa Rosa Symphony website.

“This was the most beautiful hall I’d ever conducted in in my life, and now it’s to be home for me. And it’s unbelievable, really. I’m so grateful, and so thrilled, and truly humbled to have an opportunity to be here with you all, make music, and connect with you all.” Community is very important to Lecce-Chong, who also conducts the Eugene Symphony. “Making great music is one of the great joys obviously of being a conductor. But for me, I can make great music by myself, I can listen to great music. But what really is great about [being] a conductor is the people that you get to make it with, and the people that you get to share it with. And that to me is always the number one thing that brings me back to what I do… I want people to come to concerts not in spite of the fact that they have to sit there with a thousand other people, because they get to experience music with a thousand other people.” He says having to wait from October, when he auditioned (and his final concert was cancelled because of the fires) until the Spring was very difficult, because he immediately felt such an outpouring of friendship. “You have something exceptional here. It is incredible. It is beyond what I thought was possible, and certainly beyond where I ever thought I would land. You have a community that is so supportive, so generous, and most importantly, so engaged with what is going on with this orchestra.”