Jindong 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 three international tours – to Australia and New Zealand in 2005, China in 2008 as part of Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival, and central Europe in 2013 as part of the Beethoven Project. 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.”
Anna Wittstruck is Assistant Conductor for the Orchestral Studies Program at Stanford University, where she helps direct the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, and Stanford New Ensemble. She has conducted the Summer Stanford Symphony Orchestra for the past four years. She is also the Assistant Conductor and Academic Coordinator for the Stanford Youth Orchestra, an international program for advanced high school students, whose inaugural series took place last summer in the Bing Concert Hall. She has served as Music Director of the Stanford Waltz Orchestra and conducted the San Jose Youth Symphony Concert Orchestra. Last spring she conducted concerts at the Rudolfinum in Prague and the Musikzentrum Augarten (home of the Vienna Boy’s Choir) in Vienna, as well as concerts in Berlin, Bad Elster, and Teplice, as part of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra tour of Central Europe.
Ms. Wittstruck holds a B.A. in Music from Princeton University with certificates in orchestral conducting and creative writing. There she spent two years as Assistant Conductor of the Princeton University Orchestra and as Associate Conductor of the Princeton Sinfonia. She has attended the Pierre Monteux School of Conducting in Hancock, Maine, where she studied with Michael Jinbo. Other conducting teachers include Michael Pratt, Stephen Sano, and Jindong Cai.
Ms. Wittstruck is also an active orchestral musician whose performances as a cellist span from the Beijing Modern Music Festival to the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. She won a blind audition at the age of fourteen to become the youngest contracted member of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, and has participated in orchestra festivals such as Tanglewood, Round Top, and the National Symphony/Kennedy Center Institute. She has appeared as a soloist with the Charlotte and Hendersonville Symphonies, on the Public Radio International show, “From the Top,” and most recently with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.
At Stanford, she is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology, a Ric Weiland Fellow in the Humanities and Sciences, and a recipient of the Hume Graduate Fellowship Fund in the Arts. This past spring she completed a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. She is currently writing her dissertation on neoclassicism in music-dance collaborations between the two world wars.