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Monday, December 22, 2008


Maestro and MD

BRADFORD, Pa. – Maestro Samuel Wong, a former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic who has recently relaunched his medical career, will lead the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s College-Community Choir next semester.

Wong said the choir’s program for its March 18 program will be famous opera choruses, including Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Wagner’s “Lohengrin.”

“I welcome all voices to join in this exciting program,” Wong said. “It will be a chance to delve into the drama of great operas as well as review language pronunciations in Italian, German and French.”
First Rehearsal
The first rehearsal will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 6, 2009, in the Webb/Bradford Forest Rehearsal Hall, Room 138 in Blaisdell Hall. No auditions are required, and all young adult and adult singers are welcome.
Dual Career
Wong’s dual career as maestro and medical doctor began with a degree in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he also studied composition, tuba and violin.

He moved on to Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in applied mathematics. He remained at Harvard for medical school, graduating with honors in ophthalmology, neurology and psychiatry.

While pursuing a residency in ophthalmology at Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, he continued to pursue his passion for music by conducting the New York Youth Symphony.

It was in this role that he was “discovered” by New York Philharmonic music director Zubin Mehta, who offered him the philharmonic’s assistant conductor position.

He first came to international attention when he made his New York Philharmonic debut in December 1990, stepping in for the late Leonard Bernstein, and then, in January 1991, replacing Mehta. Over the years, he has led more than 35 performances with the New York Philharmonic in New York City and in Washington, D.C.

Frequently in demand as guest conductor, Wong has appeared with the major orchestras in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Seattle, Houston, London, Brussels, Prague, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand.

Active in new music, Wong has led significant first performances with many orchestras, including 15 premieres in Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Yo-Yo Ma, André Watts, Marilyn Horne, Federica von Stade, Renée Fleming and more.

At the peak of his music career, Wong decided to return to medicine, accepting a position with Seneca Eye Surgeons Inc. in March to serve offices in Bradford, Warren and Jamestown, N.Y.

Wong takes over direction of the choir from Dr. Lee Spear, who led it for a decade and retired at the end of the fall semester.

“I am really delighted that fate has brought Sam to Bradford at exactly the right moment,” Spear said. “It is a pleasure to know that the choir will be in the hands of such an accomplished conductor.”

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