American orchestra and opera conductor Channing Yu is Music Director of the Mercury Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Music Director of Bay Colony Brass in Watertown, Massachusetts. He is national winner of the 2010 American Prize in Orchestral Conducting in the community orchestra division.
He has also served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lowell House Opera, the oldest opera company in New England, where he conducted over thirty fully staged performances with orchestra, including Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’s Otello, and Puccini’s Tosca. For his musical direction of Tosca, he was awarded second prize in the 2011 American Prize in Opera Conducting national competition.
His 2013–14 invitational engagements include conducting the Fall River Symphony Orchestra (Fall River, MA) and Berlin Sinfonietta (Berlin, Germany), and adjudicating for the James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition, the Brookline Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Concerto Competition.
Of the Lowell House Opera’s performance of Otello, The Harvard Crimson wrote, “The production’s hero was the orchestra, under the keen direction of Channing Yu. Yu was able to channel all the energy of the 80-member ensemble into moments that spanned the entire emotional spectrum—from sheer joy to complete misery. The sound produced by the orchestra was stylish, heartfelt, and on the whole, refined.” The Boston Musical Intelligencer noted, “The real star of the performance was the orchestra, led with great skill by Channing Yu.”
He served as guest conductor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in its 2008 production of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s baroque opera Les arts florissants. He guest conducted the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and 2009. He was invited as one of fourteen conductors worldwide to work with conductors Neeme Järvi, Leonid Grin, and Paavo Järvi in master classes at the 2009 Leigo Lakes Music Days Festival in Estonia. In 2010, he worked with George Pehlivanian and L’Ensemble Orchestral de València in Spain. In 2013 he worked with Johannes Schlaefli and conducted the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria.
He began formal study of conducting at Harvard University with James Yannatos; there he served as assistant conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and conductor of the Toscanini Chamber Orchestra. Since then, he has worked with a number of conductor teachers in the master class setting, including Kenneth Kiesler, Roberto Paternostro, Diane Wittry, Charles Peltz, and Frank Battisti.
Channing Yu grew up in Pennsylvania. Originally trained as a pianist, he was a divisional grand prize winner of the American Music Scholarship Association International Piano Competition, and he has appeared as piano soloist with numerous orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orchèstra Nova. He has been praised by The Boston Globe for his “imaginative piano work.” He performs with the chamber ensemble sul ponticello, in Cambridge, MA. As a violinist, he has served as concertmaster of the Brahms Society Orchestra and as violinist in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a founding member of the string quartet Quartetto Periodico. As a lyric baritone, he has performed with the Boston Opera Collaborative, in the Richard Crittenden Opera Workshop in Boston, and in the Neil Semer Vocal Institute in Coesfeld and Aub, Germany. He also sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Grammy award-winning chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. He is a member of the faculty of the Powers Music School in Belmont, Massachusetts. Channing Yu lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Photo: Alan Masow