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Assistant Professor Ching-Chun Lai joined the Crane School of Music as conductor of the Crane Symphony Orchestra in 2011. A former faculty member at Mount Holyoke College, she has conducted orchestras and ensembles in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Her symphonic and operatic repertoire ranges from the Baroque to the contemporary. A committed educator and experienced ensemble clinician, Dr. Lai has worked with youth orchestras and school ensembles in Taiwan, Canada, and United States.
Dr. Lai made her conducting debut at the age of 19 with Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University Wind Ensemble and was appointed conductor of that ensemble after her first engagement. During her tenure, this ensemble won numerous competitions in Taiwan, became one of the top university wind ensembles in the country, and was invited by the Asian Pacific Band Festival to perform in the Sydney Opera House in 1998. Dr. Lai simultaneously served as conductor of the University's String Orchestra and assistant conductor of its Symphony Orchestra. As her professional career has progressed, she has conducted performances of works such as Bach's St. Matthew Passion (Madison Bach Musicians), and, as assistant conductor, Debussy's Pellèas et Mèlisande, Donizetti's Don Pasquale and Maria Stuarda, Handel's Alcina, Massenet's Thaïs (UW-Madison), and Britten's Turn of the Screw (New England Conservatory, 2004).
As an advocate of contemporary music, Dr. Lai has premiered numerous works, and conducted an extensive amount of contemporary repertoire. Performances, such as Maura Bosch's opera, Art and Desire (world premiere 2009, a University of Wisconsin-Madison commission), Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King, and Rome-Prize winner Nathan Currier's Looking Out (world premiere 2010), have been acclaimed by the press and the audience.
Dr. Lai came to the United States to study conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music. While in Boston, she studied with Gunther Schuller. She has also studied conducting with James Smith, Charles Peltz, and Yu-Hsian Chang. Master classes include work with Gustav Meier, JoAnn Falletta, Ken Kiesler, and Frank Battisti. Dr. Lai holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was twice recipient of the Church Memorial Conducting Award, given to young conductors who show great professional promise; Master of Music degrees in Conducting and Music Education with Distinguish Performance and Academic Honors from the New England Conservatory of Music; and a Master's degree in Aeronautics and Aeronautics Engineering from the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan.