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Grand Rapids Symphony Announces Duo Shen as Assistant Conductor 

A strong advocate for new music, Mr. Shen has performed  and premiered numerous newly composed pieces both as a conductor and violinist. 

Grand Rapids Symphony Announces Duo Shen as Assistant Conductor 

The Grand Rapids Symphony has announced that Duo Shen has been chosen as its next Assistant Conductor, occupying the Maggie Coleman Chair. In this capacity, he will also serve as the Conductor of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra. He will begin his duties on July 25.

Shen, originally from Beijing, came to the United States in 2008 to pursue his musical dreams. He is an accomplished violinist and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. Additionally, he obtained a Professional Studies Diploma in Orchestra Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music. As an assistant conductor, Mr. Shen has worked closely with renown conductors such as Marcelo Lehninger, JoAnn Falletta, Carlos Kalmar and Vinay Parameswaran. A strong advocate for new music, Mr. Shen has performed and premiered numerous newly composed pieces both as a conductor and violinist.

"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."

Following the retirement of longtime Associate Conductor John Varineau in May 2021, a search committee was formed to find a replacement. The search was narrowed down to four exceptional candidates who accepted an invitation to come to Grand Rapids to audition and interview last month.

"The Search Committee conducted an extensive public/private search process to evaluate our talented finalists' skills and experience on and off the stage," said Mary Tuuk Kuras, Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO. "Duo will be a wonderful addition to our Symphony family and community. His artistry, deep knowledge and focus on music education catalyzes our mission to serve all members of our community."

Each of the four candidates spent a week in Grand Rapids familiarizing themselves with the community and working with both the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. They also had a chance to interact with audience members who enjoyed a sneak preview of the candidates during a free Grand Rapids Symphony performance on May 12. This search process was designed to engage a conductor who created the best mutual match with the organization and our community.

Shen said, "I am absolutely honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the amazing musicians and administrative team of the Grand Rapids Symphony. I was greatly inspired during my audition week by the passion of the musicians, Music Director Maestro Lehninger and Principal Pops Conductor Maestro Bernhardt-as well as the great support coming from the administration, Board members and Grand Rapids community. 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."



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