Hailed by Musical America for the "depth and sincerity of his musicality", and revealing "a talent ready for international exposure", Kahchun Wong drew international attention as the winner of the 5th International Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition 2016, and almost immediately made a string of sensational debuts with the China Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony and Guangzhou Symphony, replacing Jesús López Cobos for three subscription weeks at short notice. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has appointed him as a Dudamel Conducting Fellow for the 2016/2017 season, and from September 2018, he will assume the position of Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra for an initial 4-year term.
Highlights of Wong's current and future seasons feature European debuts with the Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre Capitole du Toulouse, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Staatskapelle Weimar, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Orquestra de València, as well as Asian debuts with the Tokyo Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Kanagawa Philharmonic, Kansai Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony and Kunming Symphony. He has additionally been invited to return to the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Wong has also been engaged to assist Valery Gergiev and Yannick Nezet-Seguin with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and Ivan Fischer with the Budapest Festival Orchestra on its North American tour in January 2018. As Nuremberg’s Chief Conductor Designate, he will embark on an extensive tour of China in December 2017, as well as leading Klassik Open Air, the largest European outdoor festival of classical music in summer 2018.
A strong advocate of music education, Wong is the co-founder of Project Infinitude, a grassroots initiative for children from diverse backgrounds to inspire their first musical steps. He feels strongly about giving back to the community which has raised him, and has initiated the pilot program in his home country of Singapore at the Enabling Village, a space where people with different abilities can feel accepted for who they are. He and his co-founder Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the composer Gustav Mahler, look to expand the project in a sustainable and thoughtful way to more communities in the future.
A protégé of Kurt Masur, who was a profound figure in his musical development, Wong had the privilege of sharing the podium on multiple occasions together with him in his last years, in cities such as Leipzig, New York and Tokyo. Over years of musical training, he has been mentored by leading figures in the classical music world such as Gustavo Dudamel, Bernard Haitink, Heinz Holliger and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Born in 1986 in Singapore, Wong began learning the trumpet at the age of 7. After serving as a military musician in the Singapore Armed Forces, he read composition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (National University of Singapore), before continuing his studies in conducting with Christian Ehwald, Hans-Dieter Baum and Manuel Nawri at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He has studied with Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival and School for two consecutive summers as a conducting fellow, and is a recipient of the Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music.