“in Beethoven´s footsteps”

director: Jindong Cai


Jindong Cai
Prose Biography

Jindong CaiJindong Cai joined the Stanford University faculty in 2004 as the first holder of the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies’ Chair and Associate Professor of Music in Performance.  He is Music Director and Conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Stanford New Ensemble.  He is also the Artistic Director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival, which he founded in 2005.  Professor Cai has led the Stanford Symphony Orchestra on two international tours – to Australia and New Zealand in 2005 and China in 2008 as part of Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival. Since 2010, Maestro Cai serves as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. 

Born in Beijing, Mr. Cai received his early musical training in China, where he learned to play the violin and the piano.  He came to the United States for his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.  In 1989, he was selected to study with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and won the Conducting Fellowship Award at the Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992. 

Before coming to Stanford, Professor Cai served on the faculties at the Louisiana State University, the University of Arizona, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and the University
of California at Berkeley.  He held assistant conducting positions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, working closely with conductors Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, and Keith Lockhart. 

Professor Cai has received much critical acclaim for his orchestral and opera performances.  In 1992, his operatic conducting debut took place at Lincoln Center’s Mozart Bicentennial Festival in New York, when he appeared as a last minute substitute for the world premiere of a new production of Mozart’s Zaide. The New York Times described the performance as “one of the more compelling theatrical experiences so far offered in the festival.”  Professor Cai has since conducted Mozart’s Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Puccini’s La Boheme, La Rodine, Madame Butterfly, Bizet’s Carmen, Rossini’s Barber of Seville,  Britton’s A Mid-summer Night’s Dream, deFalla’s La Vida Breve, Johann Strauss’ Fledermaus, Massenet’s Cendrillon,  Lehar’s The Merry Widow, and Verdi’s Aida .    

Professor Cai has guest conducted the Arkansas Symphony, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans, the Lexington Philharmonic, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle, and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra among others.  He maintains strong ties to his homeland and conducted several top orchestras in China including the China National Broadcasting Symphony, the National Opera and Ballet Theater of China, the Shanghai Symphony and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestras, the Guangzhou Symphony, the Tianjin Symphony, the Wuhan Orchestra, and the Sichuan Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2007, Professor Cai won the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.  It is the third time he has won the award.  Mr. Cai has recorded for Centaur, Innova, and Vienna Modern Masters labels.  His recording with the Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra, which contains music by William Grant Still and other African-American composers, was reviewed as “a startling album, both for its professionalism and its sonic excellence” and is widely broadcast on National Public Radio.  He conducted the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in the Chinese premiere of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 — the first major contemporary American work ever performed in that country.

Together with Sheila Melvin, Mr. Cai has co-authored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and a book Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese. The book was reviewed by The China Quarterly of Cambridge Journals, as “a delightful book. It opens up a cultural arena much neglected in scholarship on China.”