Music director and conductor, Springfield Symphony, 1536 E. Division, Springfield. The Springfield Symphony started in 1934 as the Springfield Symphony Society and performed its first concert Feb. 26, 1935 at Clara Thompson Hall on the Drury College campus. The Springfield Symphony now performs at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. Hsu began as music director and conductor for the symphony in 1995. She is only the sixth person to hold the position in the symphony's 64-year history. Hsu is a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League, an organization which holds an annual conference for anyone associated with a symphony board members, conductors, artistic directors, etc. The Springfield Symphony is one of the charter members of that organization. She is also a member of the Conductors' Guild, a group for professional conductors, and the American String Teachers Association. Hsu is also the artistic director and conductor of The Women's Philharmonic in San Francisco, Calif., and divides her time between Springfield and San Francisco.
No. of years in Springfield/area: Four. Hsu is a native of Taiwan and became a U.S. citizen in 1996.
Education: Began her musical training at age 7. Earned a bachelor of arts degree in piano from the National Taiwan Normal University, earned a master's degree from the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music and also earned an Artist Diploma in conducting from the same.
Early career: Hsu's first professional full-time job was as a bass player in the Tai Pei City Symphony. She worked concurrently as a music teacher. In 1986, she went to St. Cloud, Minn., as the orchestra director at St. Cloud State University. "I came to realize that I was interested in making the transition to professional conducting," Hsu said. She did so and became the conductor of the Oregon Symphony and, while in Eugene, Ore., also worked with the Oregon Mozart Players. In 1990, she joined the Springfield Symphony and joined The Women's Philharmonic during the 1997-1998 season. In the interim, Hsu has stayed active in guest conducting and has traveled around the country and the world to do so. "After college, I knew I wanted something more artistically, and now I am very happy with where I am. My work is extraordinary because it takes me all over the world. I've guest conducted in Taiwan, Russia; I am privileged to have visited different parts of the world," Hsu said. The challenge of bringing disparate voices together as one is something that keeps her looking forward to each new day, also, she said. "To be able to read people, bring them together as a group and then boost them forward, and the result of that, is what is great about symphonic music. It's something that is good for your soul," Hsu said.
Current projects: Hsu is right in the midst of this season; the symphony's next event is its Dec. 12 Christmas concert, followed by "Russian Passion," with soloist Katia Skanavi, to be held Jan. 16. Hsu is also planning for the next season and working with the Springfield Symphony Board and the Symphony Guild.
Management philosophy: "I do lead, but I like to have everyone come along as part of the process. It's best to communicate so that everyone understands your goal and everyone is working toward that goal together. ... For most musicians, they have trained for maybe 20 or 30 years as a soloist, and it takes great skill and dedication to draw everybody into that one common goal. To hear one voice from all of these individuals is truly rewarding," Hsu said.
Spare-time pursuits: Loves eating good food, getting out among nature with hikes and walks, watching good movies, and enjoying time with friends. She also enjoys traveling at a leisurely pace, so as to enjoy and absorb the setting.
Family data: Her mother, sister and two brothers live in Taiwan, and she sees them one or two times a year. One of her brothers lives in Los Angeles. She also has a cat, Mewomi.
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